Urban living is not for everyone. Having everything you own neatly stored within the confines of your one-, two-, or three-bedroom apartment, the sounds of the city, neighbors sleeping one wall away, no yard and commerce happening right outside your window — it’s just not for everyone.

  • Surge Homes is developing 14 micro condos in Parc at Midtown, a development located at 2401 Crawford St.
  • Surge Homes VIP certification program enrollees have already purchased all 14 units.
  • Micro condos are classified as units under 500 square feet in most cities.

Urban living is not for everyone. Having everything you own neatly stored within the confines of your one-, two-, or three-bedroom apartment, the sounds of the city, neighbors sleeping one wall away, no yard and commerce happening right outside your window — it’s just not for everyone.

But where some see a hassle, others see an opportunity. Surge Homes, one of Houston’s many developers helping prepare the city for inevitable growth, is thinking small in a big way with micro condos.

micro condos

Front of the Hadley Building, where the micro units are located.

Micro condos and the future of urban living

Micro condos are classified as living spaces confined to less than 500 square feet. This is not a new phenomenon around the world, but it has infiltrated the American real estate market recently as buzz word of sorts.

The limitations of what can be classified as a micro apartment change from city to city: In Seattle, a micro apartment must be smaller than 285 square feet, while in San Francisco, the unit must be at or below 485 square feet. Most cities classify anything below 500 square feet as a “micro.”

Surge Homes micro condos at Parc at Midtown range from 414 square feet to 485 square feet. VIP buyers were able to purchase the units for $147,000 thanks to their participation in the program and feedback during the design process.

Parc at Midtown is a development located at 2401 Crawford St. in the Midtown neighborhood. The Hadley Building is one of three located on the site.

Surge Homes’ VIP certification program is successful

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When Inman News spoke with Surge Homes co-owner Louis Conrad back in April, he talked about the company’s reliance on market research.

“We wanted to grow with friends of our buyers, those who are interested in our product,” he said at the time.

That model seemed to work. The VIP certification program that started late in 2014 allowed potential buyers first access to the properties with a down payment of $1,900 that would be applied to the final purchase price.

“All these people lined up in front of our sales center one year and two months ago… people purchased the right to purchase for $1,900, 13 months prior to the launch of Parc at Midtown,” he said. “They were rewarded with exactly what we promised them.”

Those involved with the VIP certification and the extensive market research remained engaged with the entire design process, he said.

“They followed us, and they interacted with us. We showed dozens of floor plans, innovative ideas, ideas from Europe,” he said. “These VIPs helped us create a product for which there is a tremendous demand, which was unproven in Houston.”

Conrad and fellow Surge Homes co-owner Ben Lemieux are not native Texans. Lemieux has been working in Texas since 1988, and Conrad began working there in 2000, so their approach to design is somewhat different than their peers.

“One of the things that’s been important, is we had the chance to travel in the U.S. and Canada and Europe,” Lemieux said. “We are always surprised to find what people like… we try to push the envelope in Houston. [If] it makes sense in that city, why not try it in Houston? We aren’t surprised, but other people are surprised.”

Conrad hails from Paris, where he grew up in an 800 square foot condo. The idea for dense living, or micro condos, is not foreign to him.

micro condo

Kitchen layout with flush refrigerator option.

“Houston had to bring people from around the world in order to feed the machine of growth,” Conrad said. “All of these people from around the world have lived in things other than your typical single-family home. They know more about dense product. They want to walk to the services. They want the walkable lifestyle that they had back at home.”

This is one reason he attributes Parc at Midtown’s early sales. The development is currently 72.4 percent sold, and, as of this writing, one buyer backed out of the last available micro condo and opted for another unit at Parc at Midtown. Two potential buyers are eyeing the micro condo, Conrad says.

Email Britt Chester

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