Apartments in the new Market Square Tower will have wood floors, oversized bathtubs and custom closets. But what will stand out most about the building isn’t in any of the units.
When it opens later this year, the 40-story tower will have a rooftop pool with a see-through bottom that extends 10 feet beyond the building’s southern facade.
“We had a lot of debate whether we should do something that bold,” said Philip Schneidau, CEO of developer Woodbranch Investments Corp. “It’s been done in Europe and a couple places in the U.S., so we said, ‘Yeah, lets do something with a little extra appeal.’ ”
The tower at 777 Preston will actually have two pools, as well as a theater-inspired screening room, an indoor basketball court and a children’s room that will look like “Disney designed it,” Schneidau said. A game room geared more for the adult residents will have shuffleboard, Skee-Ball and other arcade games. On a recent construction tour of the building, a leasing manager likened it to a smaller version of Dave & Buster’s.
Despite the building’s over-the-top extras, the developer could have a tough time filling up the property’s 463 apartments with the Houston economy much weaker than it was when the project was announced two years ago.
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With a number of new buildings coming online, average occupancy in downtown’s rental market is 67.6 percent, according to data from Transwestern, a commercial real estate firm. By comparison, occupancy for all of greater Houston is 90.3 percent.
The leasing office for Market Square Tower opened a few weeks ago, and 18 units have been rented. Current specials include two months free on a 12-month lease.
“When we built this, we were kind of pessimistic in our rents. We wanted to make sure if the market flattened out we’d be OK, so we’re all right with the market,” Schneidau said.
About 60 percent of the units will be one-bedrooms averaging around 1,000 square feet. Rent for a studio starts at $1,805 per month, and one-bedrooms start at $2,135. On the top end, a penthouse is priced at $16,100.
Jackson & Ryan Architects designed the building, which is just off Market Square Park on the southern half of the block bounded by Preston, Louisiana, Milam and Congress. An exiting garage on the northern half of the block connects to the tower and will serve its residents.
The first units will be ready in October.