Real Estate / High-Rises

Pioneering Houston High-Rise Reimagined as a Modern Marvel — Inside The Parklane’s Mega Makeover

Groundbreaking Museum District Tower Gets a Complete Condo Land Renovation

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Not every pioneer is destined to be cast aside. Or torn down for the latest and greatest. Some things endure — and get better. Even in Houston, a city where the wrecking ball often rules.

Take The Parklane. When it was first built in 1983, The Parklane stood out as the tallest residential tower in Houston. Thirty five stories proud. But a lot has changed in high-rise living since.

“Really, it’s just an awesome building,” Mirador Group lead interior designer Erica Baumgartner tells PaperCity. “It just needed some love.”

To bring this proud old building (by Houston high-rise standards) back in the spotlight, Tema Development has turned to the Mirador Group for an extensive makeover. Tema’s played the long game with its eight plus acres of land around Hermann Park, only opening One Hermann Place (a seven-story mid-rise) in 2016, and moving toward starting to build Two Hermann Place (a new 32-story high-rise) now. Converting their predecessor, Parklane, from a rental tower into a to-buy condo wonderland is just as thought out.

While no one expected a global pandemic to take hold during the extensive renovation, The Parklane will emerge reimagined at a time when high-rises are embraced more than ever in Houston. It is certainly another world from when The Parklane first opened 37 years ago.

“It’s the right time to renovate,” Tema vice president Nadim Zabaneh says. “What’s changed is that high-rise living’s become more and more prevalent in Houston. There’s a demand for it.”

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The Parklane’s pedigree gives it some built-in advantages many newer high-rises cannot match. Every unit boasts at least one balcony. A number have multiple balconies. And the tower’s curved corners open up another world of views. Both of these features would be prohibitively expensive for most new construction high-rises.

“The views are pretty unmatched,” Baumgartner says.

With that in mind, The Mirador team largely went about making an already good building more conducive to the expectations and demands of high-rise living in 2020. That means taking full advantage of a three story lobby — something else you would not see in a new tower — and turning it into a modern oasis.

The Parklane will gain a wow factor — and sense of arrival — that’s been lacking when this mega makeover is complete.

The Parklane high-rise lobby
The Parklane’s new lobby will provide a real sense of arrival.

Mirador Group has addressed everything from the building’s drive to its landscaping in its full plans. This is not about making a few cosmetic changes for marketing’s sake. It’s about raising The Parklane into another stratosphere — even if it’s still 35 stories high.

“I think the best part, as the saying goes, is seeing is believing,” Zabaneh tells PaperCity.

With that in mind, Tema committed the time and expense to do four different full model units highlighting the high-end European cabinetry, hardwood floors, recessed LED lighting systems and more that now will be part of living at The Parklane. Each of the model units show off a different floor plan, shining a light on the extent of the ongoing renovation.

With these reimagined Parklane condominiums starting in the $300,000s and going all the way up to prime penthouse pricing, the type of buyer drawn to this sky-high land will want to see the full range of possibilities. The Parklane’s sales and marketing are being handled by the Elevated Group at Compass, another indication of its high-end luxury cred and aspirations.

A number of residents acquired about buying their rental Parklane condo over the years, but Tema always resisted, being committed to finding the right timing — and the chance to bring the tower into a new age.

Now — with Mirador changing even the layout of some units — that time is here.

“You’ll find furnishings and flooring that are equal or better than in brand new buildings,” Zabaneth says. “But much better priced than brand new buildings.”

Mirador Group principal Jerry Hooker marvels over The Parklane’s ceilings (besides the soaring lobby, they average nine feet in the condos) in his own remarks about the renovation. Of course, Mirador’s involvement brings its own set of expectations. This is the firm behind The Giorgetti and The Sophie — two of the most distinctive new buildings Houston has ever seen.

“To get to work on The Giorgetti and Sophie and then this, really has been like a dream,” Baumgartner says.

The Parklane brought its own set of challenges. Transforming an existing building is different than a complete new build. For one, you do not decide where the walls are in most cases. Converting a once pioneering high-rise brings its advantages as well.

“It really has great bones,” Baumgartner says. “It’s a wonderful building that gave us a lot to work with.”

That includes a third floor amenities level where one of its two tennis courts could be removed to create a more modern, comfortable lounging pool scene complete with cabanas, grills and outdoor exercise equipment (to go with The Parklane’s already large and soon-t0-be-revamped indoor exercise center).

Of course, sometimes simpler perks matter even more.

“Sitting in your bedroom or living room, you can look out onto the balcony and get those unobstructed views,” Zabaneh says.

Having Hermann Park as your backyard brings its own advantages. The Houston Museum District has changed tremendously since The Parklane first opened in 1983. Now, the building has its own complimentary shuttle for residents that will take them everywhere from the Medical Center to museums to Rice University.

There is a whole world outside this new reimagined world. Houston’s clearly caught up to The Parklane now.

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