One Hermann Place developers hope park, free rent will lure renters

Houston Chronicle - By Erin Mulvaney - 19 AUG 2016

One Hermann Place, a new luxury midrise apartment, is slated to open in September on 2.5 acres in the Museum District.

Tema Development's seven-story building at 1699 Hermann Drive is an example of the Class A buildings that began construction during high times in Houston's economy, when deep-pocketed renters seeking luxury housing were moving to the city by the thousands.

The building will offer one to two months free rent for new tenants, but developers hope its proximity to the park will help make the project successful. Other developers in Houston have seized upon the idea of  green space as an amenity. Houston-based Midway is developing a project in Upper Kirby in conjunction with improvements to a small neighborhood park.

Other examples of park-oriented developments include Discovery Green and Market Square Park downtown; Market Street in The Woodlands; and Midway's City Centre on the west side of Houston.

Tema Development says it also hopes to entice renters to its new building by integrating the complex with the green space at nearby Hermann Park. The complex will include a resort-style pool, courtyard, dog park and fitness center overlooking the park. The median rent will be $1,500 per month.

The developers used brick and stone matching that of nearby Rice University buildings, removed power lines to improve park views and installed the same street lamps used along Hermann Park roads. 

"One of the key issues is the location next to the park," said Haytham Haidar, director of development at Tema Development. "We took a great deal of our queues from Hermann Park. ... From a design aspect we took a great deal of thought and examination. The park was our stepping stone and inspiration."

Nadim Zabaneh, vice president at Tema Development, touted the building's location near the Texas Medical Center and Rice University. A shuttle will give residents easy access to the Medical Center. 

"Our location will make us a success," Zabaneh said. "We do realize that it is a more challenging market."  

The rental market -- particularly at the high end -- has weakened, and economists have warned of a glut of new construction. The ongoing slump in crude-oil prices paired with plummeting job prospects comes at a time when more than 29,000 units are under construction. Many of the 20,000 or so units set to open this year were built to carry rents much higher than the city traditionally has seen, raising concerns that the demand may lag.