Mark Davis of Davis Commercial Real Estate started acquiring the properties five years ago, which were originally comprised of The Hollyfield Laundry building built in 1929 and The Old Antique House constructed in 1930.
“I’m so excited that we were able to preserve these cool buildings and find tenants that appreciate and embrace both the history and architecture of the structures,” said Davis.
“Being a relatively new city, Houston does not have that many older buildings, and so to be able to retain some of Houston’s history while bringing some neat tenants to the neighborhood is a real win-win.”
The Hollyfield Laundry building at 1731 Westheimer, now home to Barcelona Wine Bar, originally opened February 9th, 1930 as a commercial laundry facility. In an article in the then Houston Post Dispatch, J.H. Hollyfield was quoted as saying “ For its cash and carry patrons, a feature in which the new laundry will specialize, is that the customers’ room is large, light, and supplied with an unusual number of receiving and delivery bins that make for the quick and satisfactory handling of all personal laundry bundles brought in by customers.”
Interestingly, Mr. Hollyfield told the mayor at the time, Oscar Holcombe, that he needed to be able to park his delivery trucks in the street in front of the building in order to proceed forward and buy the property. So to this day, that is why you can park on the south side of Westheimer.
The former Old Antique House building at 1719 Westheimer, now Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams flagship Houston location, was formally The Old Blue Antique Shop for decades. In 2016 the New York Times wrote “you could spend a good while picking your way through the tiny, jam-packed rooms at Old Blue House Antiques, which offers everything from chunky silver cuff bracelets to sleek Murano glass and even the odd 19th-century cabinet bronze tucked into an old nightstand.” Linda Mann, the owner of The Old Blue Antique Shop, relocated directly across the street next door to Agora Coffee Shop.
Tim Cisneros, the architect on both projects who specializes in the redevelopment of older unique structures, commented “Re-positioning these neighborhood landmark buildings so they remain part of the Montrose fabric is our intention in keeping the buildings, rather than replacing them. It’ll provide familiar destinations for the customers to enjoy outdoor seating areas for eating, conversing, and observing the street life so vibrant in this part of Houston. A great commitment on behalf of the Landlord and Tenants to promote our inner loop lifestyle.”
In order to make the redevelopments work, Davis faced some real challenges. In order to meet city parking requirements, he had to acquire adjacent land parcels at over $100 psf. Plus, to make the numbers pencil out, he constructed six micro-unit apartments adjacent to Jeni’s (now 100% occupied). “This was a demanding project,” said Davis. “With land costs so expensive, not only did we have to find tenants who could do the volumes to pay the rents, but also had to find a way to add building square footage to the smallish sites. Fortunately, Tim Cisneros did a fabulous and creative job of coming up with the micro-unit solution, which allowed things to make financial sense at the end of the day.”