Home > Uncategorized > Development on Waugh heats up

Development on Waugh heats up

Whole Foods and Mandola’s restaurant opened in June

A relatively staid strip of Waugh Drive between Allen Parkway and West Gray has seen an increase in new development this year, and more projects areon the way.

By far the largest development in this area is a Whole Foods Market scheduled  opened June 22 at 701 Waugh.

It has various environmental flourishes such as electric car charging stations, recycling bins and a system that collects rainwater to be used for irrigation.

Also in mid-June, Tony Mandola opened his namesake restaurant in a new 7,000-square-foot building he’s developing from scratch at 1212 Waugh.

Mandola has operated eateries in different locations around the city since 1982, but he plans to be in this location for the long haul. He bought the land in the fall of 2009.

“It’s an investment we’ll be able to turn over to our children,” he said.

To be sure, the new Whole Foods and other retail in the area are driving some of the residential development planned for the area, as are improvements along Buffalo Bayou, including public art and a pedestrian bridge spanning the bayou near Montrose and Allen Parkway.

Houston-based multifamily developer Hanover is proposing plans for an upscale apartment complex on Waugh and West Gray where a sports bar now sits.

The Finger Cos. is also planning a residential project next to the Whole Foods where it owns land.

Entry-level new homes

Neighborhoods of homes aimed at first-time buyers proliferated during the housing boom, but as lending standards tightened, many of those entry-level buyers went away.

At least one builder is back with a new project geared toward that market.

This summer, Centex will open a development of homes south of town starting in the mid-$90,000s.

Located at Airport Road and Highway 288 next to property that will house the Houston Amateur Sports Park, the project will be called Parkside and will have 208 homes.

The company said it was motivated by high apartment occupancies and proximity to employment, recreational and transportation corridors.

“We expect a lot of buyers coming from apartments, especially those from the Gen X and Gen Y generations,” Scott Sim, vice president of sales for the Houston operations of Centex said in a news release announcing the project.

Parkside is expected to open at the end of July. It will have single-family homes ranging from 1,200 to 2,550 square feet with three and four bedrooms and two to two-and-a-half bathrooms with attached garages.

Fewer foreclosures

The Texas foreclosure rate among all outstanding mortgages in the state fell to 1.89 percent during the first quarter of 2011 — the sixth-lowest in the country, according to the Texas Mortgage Bankers Association. A year ago it was 2.08 percent.

Nationwide, the rate is 4.52 percent.

Loan delinquencies continued to fall as well.

The delinquency rate of all mortgages at least 30 days past due in Texas, at 7.91 percent, is at its lowest levels in more than two years. And the 90 days or more delinquent number, a strong indicator for future foreclosures, fell below 3 percent for the first time in nearly two years.

Still, some worry about a “shadow inventory” of foreclosed homes that haven’t yet hit the market.

There could be some lenders in Texas purposely holding back properties as they review their foreclosure procedures, but other states with bigger economic troubles have it a lot worse, said Jim Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.

“Texas probably has some inventory, but we’re nowhere near the magnitude of creating a big problem,” he said.

Reprint from the Houston Chonicle    By Nancy Sarnoff

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