Venerable high-rise developer Giorgio Borlenghi notes that people have been asking him for years to expand his luxury condominium style to inside Loop 610. At last, he is granting their wishes with announcement of Villa Borghese, a 26-story, 46-unit condo tower located a stone's throw from River Oaks.
Borlenghi, founder of the Interfin group, acquired last year a square block on Bammel Lane just off of Westheimer for the construction of what he calls "a building planned by popular demand."
"We just wanted to do it in a part of town that has asked me for a building there for a number of years similar in concept to the Belfiore," Borlenghi tells CultureMap.
That luxury high-rise, mostly sold before construction began, provides the general blueprint for the River Oaks project, one improved upon from lessons learned over Borlenghi's 35 years in the business. Think 11-foot ceilings, sizable bars, gas fireplaces, ample wall space for artwork, spectacular views of downtown and the Galleria area.
"We wanted to move forward with a similar building because the concept had been so successful for us," he says, "Two units per floor. Large units. Only 46 units. Underground parking. Private elevator lobbies. Storage units . . ."
And that's just the beginning for a building that promises to deliver the ultimate in high-rise luxury living. And well it should with a price tag averaging $680 per square foot, and that is before finishes. Borlenghi doesn't flinch at discussing the $3.2 million price tag for the average unit of 4,820 square feet with 600 square feet of balcony.
"Villa Borghese is built for a specific target clientele," he says gently in his lilting Italian accent. "Homes in River Oaks are still selling reasonably well. The people we are addressing are not as affected by the turmoil in the local economy as other people might be."
For those special individuals who want and can afford more space when moving up, there are two 8,800 square foot penthouses. Traditional units, can be expanded to 5,700 square feet, leaving another space at 3,900 square feet. Since introducing the concept to friends and potential clients in recent days, Borlenghi says "interest in the project is very exciting."
Not unaware of the pitfalls of Houston's energy-based economy, Borlenghi recalls that during the 1980s, he had 400 condominiums on his hands in his Four Leaf Towers development. He prospered when others did not.
"If I may say, I believe there is no one in the entire city that understands better than I do the relationship between the economy, the business environment and residential real estate," he says. "I still believe very much in the city, in the strength of the city the health and wealth of the city of Houston . . . I think we have a great concept. We have a great deal of comfort in this project, this location, this particular clientele and in the future of the city."
While Borlenghi's plan is to begin construction in summer 2017, that is dependent, he says, on pre-sales. He plans to have half of the homes sold before construction begins. "If this doesn't materialize, we will wait," he says with a confident smile.
Joining Borlenghi at Interfin and in this project is his son, Alex Borlenghi, executive vice president.