Real Estate Round-up

Endeavour tower ready for its second takeoff — And why aren't things built to last in Houston?

Endeavour tower ready for its second takeoff — And why aren't things built to last in Houston?

The Endeavour high-rise condo tower on Clear Lake is getting a second lease on life.

At 30 stories, it’s the tallest residential building on the shores of Clear Lake and it’s hard to miss its sleek silhouette if you are anywhere near the Gulf Freeway, Kemah or Galveston Bay.

The building had been online less than a year when things got bad in 2008. Hurricane Ike whacked the tower and then the national economy tanked, taking Houston down a notch with it.

The hurricane damage did not turn out to be devastating to the Endeavour tower. But the economic situation was a killer. The new condo building never had a chance get any sales momentum while America was holding on by its fingernails and wondering how bad the economy could get.

To make matters worse, some the Endeavour’s initial marketing materials, featuring sexy color photos of bikini-clad swimsuit models may have missed the mark. The Endeavour’s buyers tended to be more affluent empty-nesters, not single playboys with big bankrolls.

The condo’s developer, Endeavour Highrise, LP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2009. The developer had sold 36 of the tower’s 80 units with prices ranging from $400,000 to $2.5 million, but it wasn’t enough.

Enter John Gilmore and Richmore Properties, which owns a number of apartments in the Houston area. Gilmore and partners purchased the remaining 44 units in the Endeavour for $9.5 million out of bankruptcy court.

Gilmore spent another $2 million making repairs, painting the exterior and adding finishing touches, such as placing fountain statuary in the exterior aquatic-themed entry.

Everything is ready now and the Endeavour is back on the market.

“This is the tallest building within 20 miles,” Gilmore says as he points out the view for the 29th floor penthouse. “You can see NASA over there … and Kemah … and those buildings down there are Galveston.”

The penthouse is admittedly fantastic with ceiling-to-floor glass providing a great view of the sailboats on Clear Lake below.

Gilmore says prices for the remaining units are running about 20 percent less than the pre-foreclosure prices. That means the penthouse — the entire 29th floor, measuring 6,000 square feet — can now be bought for a mere $1.85 million.

Gilmore has enlisted the aid of veteran condo specialist Edith Personette for the new marketing effort at the Endeavour, 4821 NASA Parkway.

The rebirth of the Endeavour can’t come soon enough for the homeowners who have been there from the beginning, Gilmore says. During the financial meltdown, it was a challenge to cover the cost of the project’s basic maintenance, landscaping and utility bills. When a condo developer is in bankruptcy, the stress level is high for the residents.

“The home owners were worried about who was going to pay the electric bill to keep the elevators running,” Gilmore says. “They went through the ringer.”

Hines’ Skyline Addition – Part 23

Hines, the real estate organization founded by master developer Gerald D. Hines, is at it again.

Hines has topped out MainPlace, a 46-story office tower under construction at 811 Main St. in downtown Houston.

The 972,000-square-foot building is the 23rd project in downtown Houston for Hines, which also developed Pennzoil Place, One Shell Plaza and the 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower, to name a few. When you look at Houston’s skyline, one of the most impressive in the nation, you are looking at many of Hines’ best buildings.

The new MainPlace tower, designed by architect Jon Pickard of Pickard Chilton, will certainly be a positive boost for the revitalization of Main Street.

With the completion of the structural skeleton now polished off, the building’s general contractor, D.E. Harvey Builders, is pushing for completion of the entire building by January 2011.

Hines has secured one significant tenant, the KPMG accounting firm, which leased about 100,000 square feet. That leaves a lot of space in the new building available — and that much vacancy will have an impact on the downtown office market.

AstroDomain’s Disposable Society – Parts 2 & 3

The AstroWorld park, which Six Flags Inc. was so eager to shut down and demolish in 2005, remains a huge chunk of emptiness. But at least it has a new owner.

The Mallick Group of Fort Worth recently bought the 104-acre parcel of vacant AstroWorld land. No word from Mallick on what might be planned for the land, which is on the south side of Loop 610, near Kirby Drive.

The AstroWorld site has METRO rail access and was viewed by experts as a good place for office, condo, retail or hotels. But nothing happened since Angel/McIver Interests bought the land in 2006 and now that group has sold to Mallick.

A few hundred feet to the north of AstroWorld’s land, we have the AstroDome — the Eighth Wonder of the World, as they called it when it opened in 1965. The Astros and the Oilers left in the 1990s, so Harris County is now stuck with it.

So the debate is on now. Should the AstroDome become a hotel, an arena or a planetarium? Or  — and the county is considering this — spend $100 million to demolish the old stadium and replace it with a park?

On the positive side, it would be most beneficial to our city if people can ask questions like: Why do we tear stuff down in Houston, instead of keeping buildings around for centuries like they do in Europe? Can’t we build stadiums that will last more than 30 or 40 years? Let the debate begin.

Ralph Bivins, former president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, is editor-in-chief of RealtyNewsReport.com.
 

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The 29th floor penthouse at Endeavour is priced at $1.85 million. Photo by Ralph Bivins
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Palms grace the grounds of the 30-story Endeavour. Photo by Ralph Bivins
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John Gilmore of Wonmore Ltd., which has redeveloped the Endeavour high-rise condo project on Clear Lake, 4821 NASA Parkway Photo by Ralph Bivins
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Gilmore at the infinity swimming pool overlooking Clear Lake Photo by Ralph Bivins