• Plans for Topaz Villas were announced in 2014 but immediately put on hold due to a slowing local economy.
  • The luxury apartments are priced between $900,000 and $1.5 million.
  • Construction is set to begin in August or September and completed in 13 months.

The drop in oil prices halted a lot of development in Houston, but one developer is looking optimistically to the future.

The Topaz Villas will resume construction, according to developer Ron Lozoff.

Lozoff announced plans for Topaz Villas in 2014. Shortly thereafter, though, crude oil prices in the Lone Star State dropped from $100 per barrel to $30, essentially stopping most of its economic growth in its tracks.

Investors balk during oil slump

“We were going to get started at the beginning of 2015,” Lozoff said. “We bought land in January of 2014 and we were analyzing for three, four or five months. We developed plans, which took almost the rest of the year.”

In December 2014, when the plans were finalized, oil prices dropped by 70 percent.

Originally Lozoff was working with many out-of-state investors to generate the equity needed for the project. However, when oil prices dropped and the forecast for job and economic growth was on the decline, investors started backing out.

He recalled the work of Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business, citing an approximate forecast and tracking of employment in the area: Nearly 50,000 new jobs were created in 2014 and 15,000 jobs were created in 2015, but 2016 would see 40,000 jobs extinguished.

However, Topaz Villas has done its best to be insulated from these factors. Lozoff has geared the luxury one-level suites for a demographic that would not be flocking to the city for its growth, but more for the retiree looking for a lock-and-leave apartment central to downtown.

Topaz Villas combines space and exclusivity

Located in the Museum District with easy access to Highway 59, the building is planted on the half-acre property at 4520 Yoakum Blvd. in Montrose. The six-story community will house 15 units ranging from 2,889 square feet to 3,165 square feet.

Topaz Villas

Render of the proposed Topaz Villas. (topazvillas.com)

Offering 10- and 12-foot ceilings (14-foot height in the penthouse), Topaz Villas’ sprawling single-level homes are designed with empty-nesters in mind, according to Lozoff.

Lozoff recently told the Houston Business Journal that “the condo market is strong [sic] than it’s ever been in the last 15 years. The upper end of the market is primarily made up of Baby Boomers who are looking to downsize to a lock-and-leave elevator ride to one-level living. Most of these folks have substantial equity in their single-family homes and are not too concerned about a temporary blip in the economy.”

The luxury units feature hardwood floors in the living room, dining and kitchen areas. Following suit with the demand for technology-ready living, USB ports are installed in rooms throughout, and every unit is equipped with keyless entry. Apartments are accessible via two elevators, and residents have access to on-site storage facilities.

Design and price

Topaz Villas’ website boasts comparison to visionaries Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci: The exterior of the structure is a tasteful nod to Italian renaissance architecture. The three floor plans offered are named after the aforementioned artists, with the da Vinci model offering the largest outdoor terrace with access from the great room and the owner’s suite.

With only three units per floor, the developers were afforded the opportunity to create expansive plans for the three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom apartments.

Prices start at $1.2 million and go up to $1.4 million. Homeowner association fees will run residents about $450 per month. Five of the 15 units are currently under contract.

Lozoff said construction is set to begin in August or September and completed in 13 months.

Email Britt Chester

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