HANGING in Houston, Texas, is a three-story condo tower with three floors.
But this particular unit has an unusual feature: It has no elevator.
To enter the second floor, you climb up a ladder, which has a metal rail.
To reach the third floor, though, you’ve got to take a stair.
If you’ve ever had a roommate complain that you’ve been stuck in the elevator, it’s pretty obvious why.
If it wasn’t obvious before, it seems to be now.
“We have a two-story building in Houston that’s not elevator-accessible,” says Jason DeSantis, a Houston developer who’s worked on several of Houston’s high-rise projects.
“The elevator doesn’t have an elevator.
You can’t go to the second and third floors.
It’s not even visible.”
DeSantes and his partners have come up with a solution: They built an elevator-less, walkable, six-floor apartment building in the middle of the city, a building that sits above a large parking garage and offers a lot of street-level parking.
That’s the goal: To keep developers from adding more expensive apartments to the existing buildings.
The building at 101 West and 12th Street would have been a $3 million condo with a retail component, a walk-in closet and an elevator, DeSants says.
That cost about $300,000.
It was a $2 million condo without an elevator or a garage.
The plan was to do something about it.
The team spent six months researching the idea, and then the city was on board.
“It’s a real challenge,” DeSant says.
“To get this kind of thing approved, you need a lot more people.”
The city had approved plans for a luxury apartment building, but DeS Santos says he had to fight for approval in the community.
“There was a lot less support in the neighborhood,” he says.
DeSANTS’ team had to convince a lot people in the Houston neighborhood that they needed a condo with elevator access.
“You’re talking about people that can’t afford to buy condos,” De Sants says, explaining that it’s the kind of project that’s seen a lot fewer developers.
The tower was to be the tallest in Houston and would feature two floors of luxury units, but it would have only been a retail project.
De Santis says that’s because the city’s apartment code doesn’t specifically require that taller buildings be built with an elevator as an option.
He had to make sure that he was meeting all the regulations in the code.
To get the tower approved, the team had its sights set on the next development in the city.
A few months later, the project was announced.
A year later, De Sant says he was ready to open the project.
“I had been working on the project for six months,” he recalls.
“Then I found out, that building is no longer on the market.”
De Santes says that he didn’t find out about the development until two weeks after it was announced, because he hadn’t seen the plans in person.
The developers were building a new condo building, and De Santo says that one of the developers told him that he had the elevator.
He was in the midst of designing the project when he was notified.
He didn’t immediately respond to multiple requests for comment from The Verge.
The city has since announced that it would take down the tower, but that didn’t mean the project couldn’t move forward.
“In this particular instance, it was more about the project and the city getting behind it,” De Santis says.
The developer says he’s hoping to open a new apartment building on the site in the near future.
In the meantime, De Santes says that they have to get more people involved in the process to keep things moving.
“If we can get more developers involved, we can be a little more successful,” he adds.