High-rise buildings generally have a richer blend of amenities, because they contain more residences and are typically marketed as the ultimate in luxury living.
Since a mini-boom of high-rise buildings was built in Houston in the early 1980s, the area hadn’t seen many new residential towers, with the exception of a few in the Galleria and River Oaks areas. Today, the local landscape for high-rise and mid-rise living is changing fast, with a growing population and rising land values again making Central Houston a hotspot for new construction. It’s not just the Galleria and River Oaks: Today, Downtown, Montrose, Midtown, the Hermann Park/Medical Center area and other neighborhoods offer many new options for living “above it all.”
Throughout Central Houston, many older “garden style” apartment complexes – those with two- and three-story buildings grouped around courtyards – are being demolished to make way for mid-rise and high-rise buildings. This is a result of the growing interest in Central Houston living, along with rapidly rising land prices that make it more feasible for developers to “go vertical.”
It’s also happening because the huge Baby Boomer demographic has reached the stage of life where many would like to trade maintaining a house and yard in the ‘burbs for an urban lifestyle. At the other end of the spectrum, many young professionals are also keen on high-rise living, especially if they’ve enjoyed it in other cities.
This chapter explores the exciting appeal of high-rise and mid-rise living – both as an owner or renter – and offers some considerations to help you decide if this is the best lifestyle for you right now.
But what’s the difference between a high-rise and mid-rise? A mid-rise is defined as a building with a moderately large number of stories, usually 5 to 10, and equipped with elevators. A high-rise is generally above 10 stories and is also equipped with elevators.
Beyond height, high-rise buildings generally have a richer blend of amenities, because they contain more residences and are
typically marketed as the ultimate in luxury living. These amenities include concierge services, reserved garage parking, expansive fitness centers, common areas including rooftop decks with swimming pools, and perhaps retail and cafes on the lower level. A mid-rise may well offer some of these amenities, especially a fitness center and pool.
As far as renting vs. owning, the same pros and cons apply to mid-rise and high-rise living as to traditional single-family homes and townhomes. One big difference is that high-rise and mid-rise buildings also include maintenance fees that vary, but can approach $1 per square foot per month in many high-rises. Such fees typically include salaries for building staff, landscaping, insurance and building maintenance. Beyond monthly fees, unit owners can be charged special assessments – sometimes totaling tens of thousands of dollars – for major maintenance items such as elevator repair and exterior renovation.