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Sandra Gunn
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Copyright 2009 Sandra Gunn & Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


Hines' Main Place, circa 2010

Leave it to Hines - the much respected, international real estate firm with its roots entrenched in Houston terra firma - to have plans underway to build the first LEED silver pre-certified high-rise office building downtown.  Debuting in 2010, Hines' Main Place will soar 46 stories above 811 Main, replacing one of the most blighted blocks downtown with an environmentally green building featuring horizontal sunshades made of glass and aluminum, vertical glass fins and a recessed sky garden on the 39th floor.  Designed by the architecture firm Pickard Chilton, the one-million square-foot space will have floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light, not to mention the sweeping views.

Read about Houston's new
Discovery Green Park!


One Park Place is a new high-rise luxury apartment residence development overlooking Downtown Houston's new park.

Click here for more information!! 


Feb. 27, 2007
Ground Broken for $170 Million Downtown Project
Copyright 2007
Houston Chronicle

Houston Pavilions, a four-block shopping, restaurant, entertainment and office development broke ground today in downtown Houston.

The project's developers celebrated the start of construction at a ceremony alongside city, county and other government officials, including Mayor Bill White and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

"This is another turning point in our city's revitalization," said White, adding that the project will attract more visitors and convention business to downtown.

The $170 million project will have 360,000 square feet of retail space and a 200,000-square-foot office tower.

The newest tenants include clothing retailer Forever 21 and Books-A-Million. Both will build urban flagship stores and join House of Blues, Lucky Strike Lanes and seven restaurants, including McCormick & Schmick's, Red Cat Jazz Cafe and Lawry's, The Prime Rib.

"We will be the people place to see and be seen in the city of Houston," said William Denton, who is developing the project with Geoffrey Jones.

The Pavilions will be built on three surface parking lots bounded by Dallas, Polk, Main and Caroline streets.

Buchanan Street Partners of Newport Beach, Calif., provided $47 million in equity for the project, and North Houston Bank provided $120 million in construction financing.

The developers also lined up an $8.8 million development grant from the city and $5.5 million from Harris County in additional funding


October 2004

Houston Redevelopment Efforts Focus on Houston’s Old 'Wards'

By Fred Baca
Chairman of HAR's Commercial Advisory Board
[email protected]

You hear a lot about “wards” these days, as Houston’s real estate community seems to have rediscovered the inner city. Now while many of us who have lived in the Heights or attended the University of Houston never forgot about Houston’s more mature neighborhoods, throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s and most of the 1990’s; most of the focus of Houston real estate has been on the suburban areas.

The economic forces that are driving the property appreciation inside Loop 610 are huge and cut across many traditional demographic boundaries.  The suburbs have always offered a bigger house with a bigger yard, the promise of better schools and the guarantee of a longer commute. But as baby boomers become empty nesters and Gen-Xers become homebuyers, more and more of them want to trade in the commute for an urban experience.  As people ponder moving into historic neighborhoods, they find definite cultural traditions that are associated with these areas.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Much of the current dialogue about these older neighborhoods is discussed in terms of the “ward” in which a neighborhood is located. These “wards” refer to the city council districts established more than 100 years ago.  Although at various times Houston has had as many as eight wards, you typically hear people speak in terms of the six wards.

The First Ward is the area to the northwest of the downtown central business district (CBD). Located in what would today be called the “Heights,” the First Ward was bounded on the east by North Main Street and on the south by a diagonal line extending from the CBD to the northwest. In 1900 it consisted primarily of small farms.

The Second Ward included the bustling waterfront as well as housing, and extended to the east of Main Street and the CBD along the southern bank of Buffalo Bayou. Congress Street is the southern boundary of the Second Ward.

The Third Ward was the more affluent residential area south of Congress and east of Main Street.  In 1906 this area would have included the Houston Country Club's original location that is now the Gus Wortham municipal golf course, as well as the area that is now the main campus of the University of Houston.

The Fourth Ward is west of Main Street and south of Buffalo Bayou. This is the site of Freedman's Town and was one of the original African American communities in Houston.  When contemporary citizens speak about the Fourth Ward they are usually referring to that portion that is east of Taft Street and north of West Gray.

The Fifth Ward
is the northeast quadrant of Houston to the north of Buffalo Bayou and east of Little White Oak Bayou that is close to North Main Street.  The Fifth Ward included several major industrial facilities and was a major center for rail transportation 100 years ago.

The Sixth Ward is located on the north bank of Buffalo Bayou just below the First Ward.  Washington Avenue and Memorial Drive dominate the area.  This was Houston's major traffic artery out to the west until the construction of Interstate 10.

The challenge will be how to manage the process of urban renewal while retaining affordable housing opportunities and some of the cultural traditions that have evolved in these areas.
You can download a digital copy of the 1906 Houston city limits map that shows these historic ward boundaries from a hyperlink located on the homepage of the Commercial Gateway Information Exchange at

If you find Houston’s history to be of interest, then you should make some time to visit the Texas Room and Archives, located in the Houston Public Library's Julia Ideson Building downtown at 500 McKinney Street.  The phone number there is (832) 393-1313 and they are open from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Fred Baca is the Chairman of HAR's Commerical Advisory Board and serves as president of the Houston office of Colliers International.  Baca also serves on the HAR Board of Directors

October 11, 2004

By Peg Tyre

"Who ever thought," asks Ft. Worth developer Fran McCarthy, "that suburban flight would be round trip?"

Seniors & the City: Affluent, educated retirees are forfeiting a regular tee time in favor of loft living, opera tickets and bistros

When vascular surgeon Dr. Mervyn Burke, 75, decided it was time to retire last year, he and his wife Delores, 77, checked out two retirement communities near their longtime home in Marin County, just outside San Francisco. "They were nice enough," says Mervyn, straining for faint praise. But in his heart, he knew he didn't want to live around old people 24/7. So the Burkes sold their suburban colonial and moved to a 10th-floor condominium in the heart of San Francisco. Delores misses gardening but now spends more time at the symphony and the opera, which she loves. After 42 years in a quiet suburb, Mervyn is charmed by the vibrant street life in his new neighborhood. Housing didn't come cheap, he says, but as active, independent seniors, "this was just the kind of retirement we were looking for."

The Burkes, and tens of thousands of retirees like them, are pulling up stakes in suburbia and fashioning their own retirement communities in the heart of the bustling city. They're looking for what most older people want: a home with no stairs and low crime rates. But they're willing to exchange a regular weekly tee time for a different set of amenities-rich cultural offerings, young neighbors and plenty of good restaurants. Spying an opportunity, major real-estate developers have broken ground on urban sites they intend to market to suburban retirees. These seniors are already changing the face of Ft. Worth, Texas, snapping up condos in the revitalized downtown. "Who ever thought," asks Ft. Worth developer Fran McCarthy, "that suburban flight would be round trip?"

The trickle of older folks returning to the city, which began in the mid-'90s, has grown into a steady stream. While some cities, especially those with few cultural offerings, have seen an exodus of seniors, urban planners say others have become retiree magnets. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of 64- to 75-year-olds in downtown Chicago rose 17 percent. Austin, Texas; New Orleans, and Los Angeles have seen double-digit increases as well. In the next six years, as the 76 million baby boomers begin to enter retirement,downtowns are expected to grow even grayer.Cities aren't going to replace the sun belt," says Mark Muro, a senior policy analyst at the Brookings Institution who is studying this urban migration. But for affluent retirees, "city life is an increasingly popular option."

Nobody's calling it the fountain of youth, but there may be hidden health benefits to city living, too. A RAND Corp. study published this month found that suburbanites, who spend long hours in the car, have higher rates of high blood pressure, arthritis and breathing difficulties than their urban counterparts who walk more each day. Ft. Worth banker Tom Lang, 60, moved from the suburbs to the city to ward off another, even more debilitating, byproduct of aging-social isolation. After his son got married two years ago, Lang, who is divorced, realized that he hardly ever saw his suburban neighbors. Lang has many elderly clients and says he's seen firsthand how loneliness can ravage older people as they gradually lose touch with friends and neighbors. These days when he goes to the movie theater near his condo or pops down to the grocery store, "I'm constantly running into people I know." As he ages, Lang says, he hopes the continual interaction will help keep him young.

Retired lawyer Marjorie Watson, 61, says moving to the city kept a health setback from becoming a crisis. Five years after she and her husband traded their single-family home in Chevy Chase, Md., for a two-bedroom condominium in downtown Washington, D.C., an illness left her in a wheelchair. "The stairs in the old house would have been a major disaster," she says. She also found she could get to medical appointments without much trouble.

Major developers are already poised to cash in on the urban migration. Toll Brothers, a company that made billions building luxury suburban housing, is now constructing high-rises in Philadelphia, Providence, R.I., and Hoboken, N.J.; these, they say, will make perfect homes for  aging boomers. Some people want to retire to a slower way of life, says Toll Brothers vice president Fred Cooper. "But the generation that is getting ready to retire is very fit, very educated and very culturally active. Many want to stay connected to a city." Del Webb, which built the sprawling Sun City "active adult" communities in Arizona and Nevada, is erecting two urban versions just outside New York City and Washington, D.C., and more are planned.

A condo downtown costs more, but George Keller, 66, a retired Army physicist, says it's a small price to pay to finally ditch his car. Five years ago he and his wife Alice, 64, a retired schoolteacher, sold their home in suburban Maryland and moved to Asheville, N.C. We were "just flat tired of getting in the car to go anywhere" says George. Since they've moved, they've cut their mileage in half. "It'd be even less," George says, "if we didn't have grandchildren in Maryland." Recently they've discovered that disconnecting from their car may turn out to be a survival skill of sorts. When their suburban friends stop driving, says George, "they're trapped." Although they didn't plan it that way, learning to live without a car means "we can keep enjoying paradise for a good long time." Maybe that's what they mean by the golden years.

April 2003

Dive into Downtown - By: Jacqueline Le Mieux

Houston Chronicle

With social historians working to pinpoint the h in time that loft living in downtown Houston became the new housing "trend," Houston Chronicle real estate writer and observer Ralph Bivins wrote an interesting stinsudy of the Capitol Lofts in a May 23, 1999 special section cover story.

Listed by Sandra Gunn Properties, Capitol Lofts was a study in miniature of how the move to downtown has forever changed the face of real estate in Houston.

Lofty ambitions


How wide? How deep? How ravenous is the demand for downtown lofts?

Consider this case in point. Early this spring, a new loft residential project was unveiled on Main Street - the Capitol Lofts.  There was little fanfare. The marketing and advertising budget was tiny.

And there wasn't anything tangible to sell. All the developers had was a model apartment on the fifth floor of the old 10-story building at 711 Main. The rest of the interior was just an empty shell, stripped back to the concrete skeleton.

With its wide-plank wooden floors and high ceilings, the model residence looked great. Otherwise, all the realty agents had to sell was a 91-year-old building and a plan for 35 condominiums costing from $125,000 up to $270,000.

None of that discouraged buyers. The lofts sold fast. Eight commitments to buy were made on the first day the project was open to the public. Within five weeks, 29 of the units were gone, and there is a waiting list of would-be buyers for space in the building, where construction begins this summer.

"There seems to be a real interest and a need for downtown housing," said realty agent Sandra Gunn of Sandra Gunn Properties, which handled sales in Capitol Lofts.

Capitol Lofts is no fluke. The old building next door is being renovated into 100 units in a rental loft project called the St. Germain.

Across downtown, other old buildings that were given up for dead are coming back to life as loft apartments.

The trend is growing in many cities across the nation. But the change will be more striking here because these units are bringing back night life in what had been an an after-hours ghost town.

According to the Brookings Institution and Fannie Mae Foundation, Houston’s downtown population will increase by 300 percent to nearly 10,000 people by 2010. Other cities may have more of a downtown population, but no other American city will have as large a percentage gain.

"The overall rise in downtown living reflects two trends," said Bruce Katz, director of the Brookings Institution. "The first, changing demographics, could be extremely positive for cities; older Americans, empty nesters and young couples who are having children later in life are all growing segments of the population, and they are very interested in the convenience and amenities of urban life.

"The second trend is the resurgence of downtowns as cultural and entertainment centers. Downtowns have energy and excitement. People are drawn there to work and to live," said Katz.

Being close to work is the No. 1 reason that people move to downtown Houston, according to a survey by CDS Market Research released in May. The survey showed 51 percent of the people who live downtown also work downtown. Being close to downtown theaters and music halls was the second-biggest reason people moved downtown, the CDS survey showed.

Heritage Texas Properties vice president Cheri Fama agreed that many of the new downtown dwellers are seeking to be close to theaters, restaurants and downtown night life, said. "It’s such a striking change from suburbia," she said.

Another factor in the housing move to downtown is the much-anticipated opening of the Enron Field baseball stadium, a plus for another Heritage Texas loft building, The Keystone at 1120 Texas. Floors 1-8 of The Keystone take in the breathtaking vista of the framework of the stadium and retractable roof, now under construction.

Houston Chronicle
May 23, 1999, Special Section

History of Downtown Houston Living

Excerpted from "Lofty Ambitions" by Ralph Bivins

Living in downtown Houston is not new. For years, urban dwellers have been living in mid-rise or high-rise apartments such as the Beaconsfield Condominiums, Four Seasons Place and 2016 Main.

But after the realty crash of the 1980s, downtown was showing a very weak pulse. All the attention was centered on the so-called "Edge Cities" - suburban business hubs such as the Galleria and Greenspoint.

Downtown office vacancies soared. Anybody who would have proposed constructing anything in downtown Houston would have been laughed out of the real estate community. That depressed market offered one advantage: It meant low rents and bargain-priced old buildings - which inspired developers to sniff around for opportunities.

But in the early 1990s, Randall Davis, a young apartment developer, entered the scene. Davis had cut his teeth on developing apartments in Houston suburbs. But after a trip to Portland, Ore., Davis came back to try something he had seen in the Pacific Northwest - urban loft apartments.

The lofts were being built in old office or industrial buildings. The high ceilings, wide-open floor plans and exposed brick walls gave the apartments the same character that artists found appealing when they transformed old buildings in New York City's SoHo district into the first loft apartments.

Air-conditioning ducts and structural beams were left exposed. Old brick walls had more character than walls covered with Sheetrock. The floors were wooden planks or concrete.

On the northern edge of downtown, Davis bought the old Bute paint factory. He transformed the old building built in 1911 into the Dakota Lofts. Its 54 units range in size from 800 to 1,700 square feet.

When it opened in 1993, the Dakota was a big success and that encouraged other developers to try lofts. It was followed by the Hermann Lofts, Hogg Palace Lofts and some smaller projects.

But the real catalyst was Davis' Rice Hotel project. For most of the 20th century, the Rice Hotel was at the heart of the city's social life - a site for debutante balls, political speeches and swing dances in the 1940s.

The hotel closed in 1977 and remained vacant for two decades, a boarded-up hangout for the homeless that was a blight on the neighborhood.

The city bought the hotel, then leased the property to Davis and his partner, Post Properties. The financing package was aided by money from the Market Square tax increment financing district. With the creation of this district, property valuations in the area were frozen. As property values go up with the renovation of nearby buildings, the extra tax income is funneled back into the area.

The city has expanded the district, so it now will be used to pay for improvements, such as street repairs and improved lighting, in the area around the loft projects that are going up near the Rice.

The old hotel was transformed into 312 loft apartments. Not only was an eyesore removed, but the high-profile Rice project helped spawn other development and draw customers for retailers.

The Rice, which opened last year, is now 95 percent occupied, with rents ranging from $650 to $4,000 per month for units ranging from 500 to 2,800 square feet.

The Rice is also an incubator of sorts for downtown dwellers. At least four of the buyers at the Capitol Lofts are renters at the Rice, according to realty agents.

5. 220 MAIN






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2007 Top Production Realtor Award Winner - Houston Association of Realtors
2006 Top Production Realtor Award Winner
- Houston Association of Realtors
2005 Top Production Realtor Award Winner - Houston Association of Realtors
Top Production Realtor Award Winner - Houston Association of Realtors
2004 Sold on My Realtor Award Winner - Houston Chronicle
2002 Top 100 Agents in Houston Award Winner
- Houston Association of Realtors

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All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Broker #0566914.

Sandra Gunn is a Texas Real Estate Broker, licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission.   Texas Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons are licensed and regulated by the TEXAS REAL ESTATE COMMISSION (TREC).  If you have a question or complaint regarding a real estate licensee, you should contact TREC at P.O. Box 12188, Austin, TX  78711-2188 or [512]-465-3960.  If you would like to view the Texas Administrative Code, click HERE.