Downtown Condo Tower Breaks Ground

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Randall Davis and Robert Contreras are moving forward with the 95-unit downtown condominium building they announced more than a year ago when the Houston economy was in much better shape.

“It’s financed and ready to go,” Davis said Tuesday.

Yet after more than a year of selling, fewer than half the building’s 95 units have been spoken for. Other developers are canceling projects as low oil prices have crushed demand for high-end properties.

So why build now?

“We’re almost half sold and we obtained favorable financing that’s just hard to walk away from,” Davis said of the new project, Marlowe. “We feel like the market will be healed in the next 18 months or so and we’ll be delivering product shortly thereafter.”

Marlowe is being developed at the southwest corner of Caroline and Polk across from the House of Blues. Units in the 20-story building range from $375,000 for a one-bedroom unit up to $1.5 million. Many of the 42 buyers that have signed contracts for condos are young professionals who work downtown, Davis said.

“We only need 95 customers in city of 4 million people,” he said.

The bulk of the capital used to launch the project came from a group of international investors through a federal program that allows foreigners to receive green cards if they invest at least $500,000 in a job-creating U.S. business. The tool has been used for a handful of developments in Houston, but it’s funded major projects elsewhere.

Davis said a number of the Marlowe investors are from Mexico and China.

He and Contreras also will receive a tax incentive valued at up to $15,000 per unit through the city’s Downtown Living Initiative. Marlowe is only for-sale condominium project to be approved for the project. Every other building in the program is a rental property.

The building will have a “sky pool,” fitness center, 24-hour concierge and valet parking. Maintenance fees have been set at $725 per month per unit.

Powers Brown Architecture, Contour Interior Design and GT Leach are involved in the design and construction of the building. Centennial Bank of New York is providing construction financing.

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