When RÖhe & Wright acquired the 24-unit apartment building that would eventually be razed and resurrected as Cheyne Walk, there was one small sticking point: It still had tenants. So the Houston-based builder/developer gave the existing occupants ample notice, served as landlord for one year while its partners replatted the site, and worked with residential designer Preston Wood to conceive the plans for the 14 luxury carriage homes that would take its place.
Nailing the right aesthetic for the infill makeover was paramount, given the site's location in Southampton, an old-growth Houston neighborhood known for its tree-lined boulevards and 1920s homes by famed architects such as John Staub. A London-style townhouse square seemed like the perfect complement. So a small entourage of builders and designers set up a guided tour of residential London with a professor from the London School of Architecture.
Borrowing its moniker from a development on the River Thames, Cheyne Walk makes a striking impression with its austere façades of hand-carved Mexican limestone, wrought-iron detailing, deep-set porticos, and transom-topped doorways. A 100-year-old live oak in the central courtyard was carefully preserved during construction.
Boomer buyers went wild for residences ranging from 3,200 to 4,000 square feet, each with its own elevator, grand staircase, two-car garage, and covered fourth-floor terrace. So much so, in fact, that all 14 units in phase 1 sold out before sheetrock. Röhe & Wright has since acquired an adjacent property to build 11 more carriage homes. At press time, five of the units in phase 2 had already sold before slab. (Some phase 2 units are three stories high; see floor plan at right.)
“Everyone told us we were crazy to design four-story homes for empty-nesters, but it worked,” says Andy Suman, a Röhe & Wright founding partner. “We designed for people who wanted to scale [down from the larger homes] they had raised their families in.”
Proof, perhaps, that city quarters with private elevators are on the up and up. And that more than a few Houstonians are closet Anglophiles. Who knew?
Project: Cheyne Walk, Houston; Size: 3,200 to 4,000 square feet; Site: 1.4 acres (18 du/ac); Price: mid-$600s to high $900s (phase 1); high $900s to $1.3 million (phase 2); Builder/Developer: Röhe & Wright, Houston; Residential designer: Preston Wood & Associates, Houston; Landscape designer: Element Garden, Houston; Interior designer: J. Randall Powers, Houston
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Houston, TX.