Inner Loop - West Central (Area 16)



Afton Oaks

 
Galleria-area location a plus for Afton Oaks
By Katherine Feser 
Houston Chronicle       6/5/94

Residents of Afton Oaks better hope architect Philip Johnson's 64-story office tower by the Galleria is structurally sound. 

"I kid people that if Transco Tower ever fell across 610 Loop, it would land in my front yard," says resident Richard Leader. 

Two-income professional families are buying homes in Afton Oaks. "It's kind of a barbell neighborhood," Leader says. "You've got a lot of young families with kids on one end and a lot of retired people on the other end." 

Location is a major selling point for the neighborhood near Loop 610 and Richmond Avenue. 

Ordinary ranch-style brick homes built in the 1950s are pricey - generally selling from $150,000 to $300,000. Grand old trees along the curvy streets add to the established feel of the neighborhood. 

But the 1950s look has been interrupted recently by a handful of new homes sprinkled throughout the community. Buyers also are updating sturdy, older homes. 
 

Since most of the houses are in such good condition, it's just not cost effective to tear them down. 

Because of its active civic club, Afton Oaks was selected as part of Mayor Bob Lanier's Neighborhoods to Standard renovation program. Under the program, the neighborhood will get new streets and curbs. Storm sewers will be installed as needed. The project is scheduled for completion in four years. 

Afton Oaks Civic Club responds quickly to anything that threatens the residential character of the neighborhood. The association was instrumental in shutting down the bungee jumping operation that was located nearby at Loop 610. Residents also lobbied against the proposed Metro rail on Richmond four years ago. 

"We voice our opinions very strongly," says club President Liz Patton-Estlack. 

Homeowners who violate deed restrictions , such as putting a fence in the wrong place or building a new home with stucco, are subject to lawsuits by the civic club. Residents say crime is minimal. 

"We seem to have a great response time from the Houston Police Department," says Patton-Estlack. "Sometimes we wonder why we're paying for private security." 
 
 

 

Neighborhood facts and map
Number of homes 458
Median price $187,700
Median price per square foot $94.24
Median size 2,074 square feet
Median lot size 8,760 square feet
Median year built 1955
Average number of bedrooms 3.0
Average number of baths 2.3
Median estimated tax $5,010
School district Houston Independent School District
Schools Will Rogers Elementary, Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School
Source: Crawford Realty Advisors

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Arlington Court

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Avalon

 
Avalon Place's old-fashioned charm lingers
By Katherine Feser 
Houston Chronicle       9/15/96

W.M. Dickey's father didn't live to see his dream fulfilled - to subdivide his farmland into a neighborhood called "College Heights." 

But, years later during the Depression, his son developed the land into Avalon Place to generate money to pay property taxes. Since most of the streets continue from those in adjacent River Oaks, W.M. Dickey only got to name one new north-south street - Dickey Place.   "I did get to put my father's name on that," Dickey recalls. 

While houses have been torn down and replaced with new construction in River Oaks and other affluent neighborhoods, Avalon Place still has mostly original homes. In fact, the street scene is so charming that Locke Lane was used as a setting in the movie ``Terms of Endearment." 

"People seem to want to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood," says longtime resident Polly Herring. 

"So far, very few lots have gotten into the hands of the developers." 

Some two-story traditionals have been so lavishly updated they look like new inside. One home on the market for $449,000 features cherrywood cabinets, granite counters and limestone floors in the kitchen. An upstairs bath has green slate floors, pedestal sinks and a glass brick wall. Double-pane windows along the back of the house overlook a brick patio and rose garden. Thick crown molding and plantation shutters are throughout the house. Like many in Avalon Place, the house has servants' quarters in the garage. 

Many houses are redone so that they've got the modern amenities and the old-fashion charm.  This year, 10 homes have sold, ranging from $257,500 to $525,000. 

Across from Avalon Place, River Oaks Elementary recently opened to kindergarten through second-grade students after pressure from parents from surrounding communities to allow neighborhood children to attend the public Vanguard magnet. Other grades will be phased in a year at a time. 

The school offers an alternative to the nearby private schools of St. John's Episcopal and St. Anne's Catholic. 
 

Neighborhood facts and map
Number of homes 230
Median price $365,865
Median price per square foot $115.55
Median size 3,105 square feet
Median lot size 9,308 square feet
Median year built 1940
Average number of bedrooms 3.4
Average number of baths 3.0
Median estimated tax $9,997
School district Houston Independent School District
Schools River Oaks Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Lanier Middle and Lamar High
Source: Crawford Realty Advisors

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Camp Logan

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Cherryhurst/Avondale

 
Community stays true to its roots
By Katherine Feser 
Houston Chronicle 3/20/94 

Back in the 1920s, before air conditioning was common and it was too hot to stay indoors, people in Cherryhurst used to go to the park on Monday nights to watch silent movies. While each reel rewound, they'd eat snow cones and mingle with the neighbors. 

Cherryhurst Park still stands in the heart of Montrose. "The park is a very central aspect. It's like the village square. Neighbors meet there when they're walking dogs. Children play in it," says Arthur Slaughter, a resident since 1973. 

Grand old oak trees frame the neighborhood's small bungalows, many built in the 1920s and 1930s by Houston developer Lillo Crain. Most houses have alley access to garages in back. The neighborhood has a uniform feel since most of the homes are the original construction. A few town houses have been built, but their traditional styles blend in with the existing homes. 

Property values range from $90,000 to $250,000, which might surprise some people, considering some houses are right around the corner from a tattoo parlor.

But, unlike many of the neighborhoods surrounding it, Cherryhurst has retained much of its original character - single-family, residential dwellings. In nearby areas such as Hyde Park, resale shops, beauty shops and law offices are sprinkled in with houses, duplexes and older apartment buildings. Most of the commercial activity in Cherryhurst is confined to its outlying borders on Fairview and Westheimer. 

Cherryhurst has been able to maintain its integrity due to the active involvement of residents and the civic association.  Their efforts led to re-established deed restrictions in 1991. Neighbors watching out for each other and working closely with the police station on Westheimer has helped keep crime in check. 

Cherryhurst, which is located two miles west of downtown, is zoned to Wilson Elementary, Lanier Middle School and Lamar High School. Some parents send their children to River Oaks Elementary, a nearby public school that offers the Vanguard program for accelerated learning. 

Neighborhood facts and map
Number of homes 138
Median price $97,600
Median price per square foot $73.38
Median size 1,569 square feet
Median lot size 5,000 square feet
Median year built 1930
Average number of bedrooms 2.5
Average number of baths 1.3
Median estimated tax $2,639
School district Houston Independent School District
Schools Wilson Elementary; Lanier Middle School; Lamar High School
Source: Crawford Realty Advisors

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Crestwood

 
Few residents ever leave Crestwood
By Katherine Feser 
Houston Chronicle      4/10/94 

Crestwood has something in common with the town of Stepford from the movie The Stepford Wives.  People don't move out. 

"Everybody that moves over here stays, unless they die or for some reason they have to leave town," says Keeter Skelton, 73, who has lived in the neighborhood since before Shepherd Drive was paved. 

Crestwood, located just east of Memorial Park, was developed in the 1940s on the former site of Camp Logan, an army camp during World War I. Armadillos, raccoons and opossums from the park sometimes visit the wooded area, where sidewalks are a rarity. The older homes are mostly one-story frame houses with wood siding. Larger houses built over the past few years are two-story traditional style made of brick or stucco. 

"It's like living in a small community. Everyone knows everyone," Skelton says. 
 

"The neighborhood has certainly held up beyond my fondest dreams," Skelton says. "In fact, I paid $17,000 for my house 50 years ago. Anyone that bought it would tear it down." 

Today, prices range from $120,000 to more than $500,000. "The neighborhood is going through a transformation.  New construction over the past four years is changing the look of the community. 

Large lots, typically 75-by-132 feet, and the close-in location appeal to new home buyers. 

"It's like living in The Woodlands without the commute. The streets are very quiet and it's very private."  Crestwood is five minutes from downtown and the Galleria. 

Schools are probably the weak part of the neighborhood, if there is one. Crestwood is zoned to Houston Independent School District's Memorial Elementary, Hogg Middle School and Lamar High School. Many children attend private schools such as Kincaid or St. John's. 

The nice thing about the neighborhood is that you have a lot of the original residents. These people planted the trees and selected the lumber to build the house. People get in here, they just don't want to get out. That's what's attracting the new construction. 
 

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Greenway Plaza Area

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Montrose / Museum District

Long gone are the days of "cruising Montrose" - for all of those who found sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic exciting on a given Friday or Saturday night in the early 1980's. Today, Montrose is still the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night. What with all the numerous and eclectic types of entertainment in the form of bistros, cafes, diners, outdoor patios, coffeehouses, brew pubs, art galleries, antique shops, clothing boutiques and bookstores.

The Montrose area is home to the "Antique District" where you can find some really great items at, pretty good prices, to adorn your abode. Feeling a little daring? You can get a tatoo (ouch!) in the "Tatoo District ."

Montrose is an older neighborhood of Houston, although many new townhomes and apartment complexes are being constructed. You'll find some quaint lofts and studios here for those "young artist" types. The homes are older and have alot of character to them.

Montrose is host to the bi-annual Westheimer Colony Arts Festival held in April and October. You can join hundreds of Houstonians as they peruse through the different art genres and food carts. And don't forget your roller blades!!

Montrose is for the "culturally hip!" And for the culture of Houston, Montrose is the place to visit!

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Oak Estates

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River Oaks

With its spacious, meticulously landscaped lawns, River Oaks has long been known as the most exclusive residential area in Houston. Conveniently located just a few minutes from the downtown business district, River Oaks is the address for the elite.

River Oaks was developed in the early 1920s by Will Hogg (son of a former Texas governor) and his associate, Hugh Potter. The residential area measures about 1,200 acres, with home sites ranging in size from acres to small lots. The Hogg family gave an additional 1,000 acres to the city of Houston for use as a park and today Memorial Park benefits all residents of Houston.

Traditional architecture prevails in River Oaks, however many different architectural styles can be found here as well. In fact, many of the homes in River Oaks were designed by nationally recognized architects of the era. One such home, "Bayou Bend," was built by Will Hogg's sister, Ima. She later donated the magnificent Greek Revival property to the Museum of Fine Arts, along with its extensive collection of early American furniture and antiques. Another River Oaks landmark, the River Oaks Country Club, is one of Houston's most prestigious country clubs.

River Oaks is bordered by Buffalo Bayou to the north, on the east by Shepherd Drive, and on the west by East Briarhollow Lane. Its close proximity to Downtown, as well as its easy access to the Greenway Plaza area, The Galleria, and various museums, theaters, and other cultural events give River Oaks a distinct advantage for the upscale home buyer.

Many of Houston's business, professional, political and social leaders make their homes in River Oaks. They provide the city with much of its civic, cultural, philanthropical and social direction. With its rich history and beauty, residents of River Oaks enjoy a comfortable, gracious lifestyle unequaled in the Houston area.


River Oaks still most prestigious

By Katherine Feser 
Houston Chronicle   8/7/94



The gap between the esteemed River Oaks and some other Houston neighborhoods is narrowing. 

"River Oaks will always be probably the most desirable place to live," says Realtor John Daugherty, who sells upscale residential properties. 

"I think River Oaks has more competition than it's ever had," Daugherty says. 

New construction in Tanglewood, Memorial, West University Place and Bellaire, where the lot values are lower, now competes with low- to midrange properties in River Oaks. 

Some of Houston's finest homes are tucked among the beautifully landscaped gardens and expansive lawns of River Oaks. River Oaks was developed by brothers Will and Mike Hogg and lawyer Hugh Potter in 1924. 

The mix of homes includes New England, Georgian, Spanish and French chateau style. Several homes were designed by noted architects such as John Staub and Birdsall Briscoe.

High grade homes are being torn down and replaced by larger ones. "That sort of mystique is what supports the property values in River Oaks," resident Deanna Murphy says. 

The construction includes what will be the biggest home in River Oaks, with 38,000 square feet of space. 

"They look like the administration buildings for small colleges," Murphy says. "They're huge Georgian cubes." 

Unusual features in some houses include indoor swimming pools, racquetball and basketball courts as well as basements and wine cellars. 

Home prices in River Oaks are lower than they were a decade ago. "During the boom years, prices got way out of line," Daugherty says. "It's just had to adjust a little bit." 

Prices generally start around $300,000 and go up into the millions. So far this year, 22 homes priced over $1 million have gone into the sale pending category. That compares with 12 homes in 1993. 

Property taxes are high. The 1993 taxes on one house that's listed for $5 million were $104,302.55. 

River Oaks Property Owners provides police protection and back-door trash pick-up.

 
Neighborhood facts and map
Number of homes 1,578
Median price $632,950
Median price per square foot $170.43
Median size 3,861 square feet
Median lot size 12,472 square feet
Median year built 1940
Average number of bedrooms 3.8
Average number of baths 2.8
Median estimated tax $17,494
School district Houston Independent School District
Schools River Oaks Elementary, Will Rogers Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Lanier Middle, Lamar High
Source: Crawford Realty Advisors

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Royden Oaks

 
Thriving in shadows of River Oaks
By Katherine Feser 
Houston Chronicle          3/12/95 

Royden Oaks doesn't really have its own identity. There are no signs marking the entrances to the small subdivision near Willowick and San Felipe. 

"I tell people I live in Royden Oaks and they give you this blank stare," says resident Mark Hobson. "Unless you live here, you really don't know it's a distinct neighborhood." 

But it's hardly a crisis, since the neighborhood is often associated with adjacent River Oaks. 

Royden Oaks was developed in the late 1940s by Frank Sharp, with mostly ranch style houses, but about a third of the homes have been replaced with new construction. Newer homes usually cost between $600,000 and $700,000. 

The new two-stories mesh well with the grand old homes found on Ella Lee Lane, which leads into River Oaks. The street lamps in Royden Oaks are the same as those throughout River Oaks. Street signs are made of black and white mosaic tiles. 
 

It's the best neighborhood outside of River Oaks that's had any continual trend toward tearing down. 

In nearby areas such as Oak Estates or Afton Oaks, which are closer to major transportation arteries, construction has been slower to catch on. 

Building has stalled lately because of competition from new homes on the resale market. 

Older houses go from $220,000 to $350,000, while homes near apartments or busy streets sell for less. 

As in River Oaks, residents have back-door trash pick up. The area is patrolled by constables hired by the property owners association a few years ago. With the beefed-up security, annual maintenance fees have risen to $520. 

"Our crime rate has dropped to almost nothing since we've had that," says association President Gordon Sorrells. 

Most children attend private schools, residents say. River Oaks Baptist School and St. John's School are close by.
 

Neighborhood facts and map
Number of homes 212
Median price $303,450
Median price per square foot $132.62
Median size 2,738 square feet
Median lot size 8,627 square feet
Median year built 1951
Average number of bedrooms 3.3
Average number of baths 2.9
Median estimated tax $7,305
School district Houston Independent School District
Schools Will Rogers Elementary, Lanier Middle and Lamar High
Source: Crawford Realty Advisors

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