Paul Takahashi, Reporter, Houston Business Journal | Jun 7, 2017, 8:23am CDT

ZG Companies is under construction on a $66 million Class A apartment project near downtown Houston.

The Houston developer broke ground last summer on Residences at Hardy Yards, a four-story, 350-unit apartment complex that officials said will be one of the first truly mixed-income housing projects in the Bayou City.

About half of the luxury apartments — 171 units — will offer market-rate rents around $1.90 per square foot targeting downtown professionals while the remaining 179 units will offer workforce housing rents targeting police officers, firefighters, teachers and nurses making between $35,000 and $45,000.

Construction crews have finished about a third of the project, completing a six-story parking garage and framing the apartment complex, said Lee Zieben, founder of ZG Companies. The apartments are rising on a nearly 5-acre parcel in Hardy Yards, a long-vacant railcar maintenance yard in Houston’s Near Northside neighborhood.

“The Near Northside of town is experiencing a lot of neat growth and expansion,” Zieben, a Houston native and second-generation apartment developer, said. “There’s light rail, bars and restaurants and an outdoor music theater. It’s an exciting time for this side of Houston.”

Residences at Hardy Yards will feature several rail-themed features, including an iconic 100-foot clock tower with a bell and colorful lights. The apartments will feature luxury amenities, including a clubhouse with a resort-style infinity-edge pool on the top of the garage facing the downtown skyline, another resort-style courtyard pool with cabanas, a bocce ball court, horseshoe pit, volleyball court, demonstration kitchen with Wolf appliances, a fitness room with an on-demand fitness system, a movie theater room, a bike storage room, concierge service, valet trash service and a dog park with a pet washing station. The apartment complex also will feature units with alarm systems, card access and cameras, Wi-Fi, LED lights, motion sensor-controlled lights in the garage and energy-efficient appliances.

“The whole property is Class A,” Zieben said. “There’s a misnomer that mixed-income housing has got to mean a low-income project. Here, you’ll have a police officer living next to a lawyer.”

Residences at Hardy Hards is an unique public-private partnership between ZG Companies, the city of Houston, the Houston Housing Finance Corp. and CommunityBank of Texas. The $66 million project is funded in part by a $14.5 million investment from the city of Houston through federal disaster relief funds after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Steinberg Design Collaborative is the architect, ICON Builders is the general contractor, Jones & Carter is the civil engineer, United Engineering is the structural engineer. All four companies are based in Houston. South Carolina-based Greystar is the property manager.

Residences at Hardy Yards — located at North Main and Burnett streets, just north of Interstate 10 near the University of Houston Downtown — is the first project to break ground on the 45-acre Hardy Yards site. City planners and developers hope to transform the brownfield industrial site into a vibrant mixed-use development just north of downtown Houston. So far, there has been a $820 million public investment into the Hardy Yards site, including the installation of a Metro Red Line extension station at Burnett Street, city officials said.

Cypress Real Estate Advisors sold the 5-acre parcel for the Class A apartments to ZG Companies in March 2015. The Austin-based real estate firm has now finished redeveloping an additional 18 acres within Hardy Yards for future projects. The land is pad-ready, meaning all of the infrastructure — utilities, streets, benches and lamps — have been put in.

ZG Companies plans to begin preleasing the Residences at Hardy Yards in March 2018. The first units are expected to deliver in summer 2018 with the entire project completed in summer 2019.