June 23, 2017 | Houston Chronicle
By Katherine Feser
The new 2929 Weslayan high-rise south of River Oaks and The Rice, a redevelopment of downtown’s Rice Hotel, earned top honors at the Houston Apartment Association Honors Awards.
The two Cornerstone Award winners were among 19 properties to be recognized by the Houston Apartment Association, which divided properties by age, size and type. The winners were selected from 117 communities that applied for the awards, which were determined by committees from HAA after visiting the sites. The winners scored high on factors such as service, operations, design and impact on the community.
The Rice, which opened as the Rice Hotel in 1913, recently underwent a major renovation after being converted to apartments in 1998. It sits on the former site of the Capitol of the Republic of Texas on Texas Avenue at Main Street and is managed by Greystar.
“Old meets new throughout this beautiful historic landmark,” the judges commented, noting that the property commands rents of $2.60 per square foot.
“They’re able to lease units without giving specials in a market that’s giving specials right now,” said Tina DeFiore, a staff member with the Houston Apartment Association who coordinated the awards.
Standout amenities at 2929 Weslayan, a 254-unit high-rise managed by PM Realty Group, include elevator access directly into selected apartment units, full-time valet and concierge services, and a full-time pool attendant. Roka Akor, a Japanese sushi and steakhouse, recently opened on the first floor of the 40-story tower.
Among recently built properties that made the list are Cottages at South Acres, Lafayette Plaza for seniors, and Hanover Southampton in Rice Village.
Many of the complexes feature amenities such as movie rooms, resort-style pools, outdoor kitchens, fitness studios, sand volleyball, children’s playgrounds and on-site doggy stations.
Older apartments with modern amenities made a strong showing in the judges selections. Many of the nominations were for communities with fewer than 100 units or between 100 and 150 units.
“Most of our nominations this year were in smaller properties,” DeFiore said.
“There are a lot of independent owners going in and buying multifamily properties and doing the renovations and bringing them up to code and then leasing them, probably at higher rate and to a different clientele.”