Houston’s Surge Homes: Good Condos Come in Small Packages

Conrad & Lemieux are ready to deliver Houston’s first micro condominiums in a thriving submarket.

by Jeffrey Steele

Louis Conrad and Ben Lemieux (right), partners, Surge Homes

Louis Conrad (left) and Ben Lemieux (right), partners, Surge Homes

HoustonSurge Homes will deliver Houston’s first micro condominiums—defined by their diminutive size of less than 500 square feet—with the completion of the Hadley Building in 2017.  The property will include 14 micro condos among its 28 homes.

The micro condos are part of Parc at Midtown, a $22 million, 80-home community of one-, two- and three-bedroom condos; two-story, two and three-bedroom penthouses; two-story, two-bedroom “Sky Townhomes”; and three-bedroom townhomes.

The apartments, which range in price from $157,680 to $432,260, afford buyers the distinctive opportunity to own entirely new homes in the trend-setting, pedestrian-friendly Houston neighborhood known as Midtown.

The European-inspired micro condo floor plans range in size from 414 to 498 square feet, yet are large enough to offer a closed master bedroom with space for entertaining in the living areas.  The condos feature windows on both front and back exterior walls, ensuring every residence benefits from natural lighting.

Houston-based Surge Homes partners Louis Conrad and Ben Lemieux, along with the Lemieux family, have acquired sites for 16 years in Houston’s Inner Loop, and predict a coming massive wave of demand for urban land development in Houston.

Parc at Midtown, Houston

Parc at Midtown, Houston

“The specific site of Parc at Midtown was purchased about eight years ago when people did not know yet how great and in-demand the Midtown neighborhood would be in Houston,” Conrad told MHN.  “It is by far the hottest neighborhood for Millennials and in the top three of the most walkable areas of the whole city. The minus of the site was that the Lemieux family had to hold on to it for so long before it was developed. There was not much competition at the time to purchase the site because it is hard for a developer to predict so many years ahead of time what’s going to be the best area of town. And you also must be willing to carry the cost of undeveloped land until it is ripe.”

The fastest absorption in new residential development is obtained when a developer proposes a product for which there is a pent-up demand, because no one else has offered that product, at that price, at that location, Conrad continued.

“Catering to a pent-up demand creates extraordinary absorption,” he added. “But it is much easier said than done because America is a free market and there are plenty of intelligent developers and builders always looking for the next best thing. However, by doing things totally differently, one can achieve surprisingly positive results.

Parc at Midtown townhomes, Houston

Parc at Midtown townhomes, Houston

In terms of their approach, the firm invested time and money “into a very large market research analysis of 3,400 future homebuyers in Houston’s Inner Loop and neighbors of these communities. We proposed new ideas, new floor plans, architecture, types of building and interior finishes, as well as traditional ideas that our competitors offer. The ideas were taken from experienced developers, each with 28 years of experience in residential developments, as well as concepts from other cities around the world that are more urbanized,” Conrad explained.

The information and data was then compiled to brief architects, interior designers, engineers and the Surge Homes team.

“The result is that Parc at Midtown is the third fastest-selling residential subdivision in all of Houston—including all master-planned communities and smaller neighborhoods—and number one in the Inner Loop market,” Conrad said.

The biggest challenge the developers faced was earning a reasonable return on equity in spite of the fact the condominium interiors include expensive European designs and imported cabinets from Italy and Germany. Surge Homes discovered through its market research that Houstonians were much less traditional and more cosmopolitan than local real estate experts were suggesting. “Therefore, we struck an exclusive deal for unique, European, award-winning cabinetry,” Conrad said.

“It is made of advanced synthetic materials yet still provides a very sophisticated style that makes the compact homes in the community much more luxurious.”

Images courtesy of Surge Homes