Illinois-based apartment developer starts first build-to-rent community near The Woodlands

An Illinois-based development company with three downtown Houston apartment complexes is jumping on the build-to-rent trend for the first time with a new community in The Woodlands area.

Marquette Cos., based in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, broke ground in August on The Sylvan, a 22-acre build-to-rent community featuring single-family homes, townhomes and apartments.

It’s located at 1941 Sawdust Road, which is encircled by the Village of Grogan’s Mill but is not part of The Woodlands Township.

Of the 300 units, 68 are single-family homes, 120 are townhomes, and 112 are apartments. The four apartment complexes also feature townhomes on the corners, meant to give the buildings a more single-family-type look.

“That apartment building was designed so the entire community feels like a residential community,” said Chris Yuko, director of development for Marquette.

Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater is the architect, and Houston-based Arch-Con Corp. serves as the general contractor for the community.

The single-family homes will range from 1,495 to 1,805 square feet with three to four bedrooms, and the two- and three-bedroom townhomes range from 1,456 to 1,581 square feet. Both housing types come with attached garages and private yards.

The apartments come in one- to three-bedroom plans, ranging from 650 to 1,574 square feet. The majority of apartment units have garages as well.

Rents range from $1,750 for a one-bedroom apartment to $3,500 for a large four-bedroom house, Yuko said.

All homes will be equipped with smart-home technology, which includes door locks and thermostats. Community amenities include a clubhouse, pool, fitness center, spa with an infrared sauna, and cold-plunge pool.

Marquette also wanted to preserve as many of the old trees on the site as possible, including live oak trees that are over a century old, and worked with the architect, Montgomery County arborists and city of Houston planners to create a plan.

“Rather than come in and clear-cut the site, level the site and then put in homes wherever we could, we identified the topography incline hills that we wanted to keep and identified trees that we wanted to keep and then had to have our civil engineers and our architecture team design everything around those,” he said.

The company estimates the preservation effort will cost more than $1.5 million, an expense it considers worth it for its potential to attract renters, the company said.

The Sylvan marks Marquette’s first-ever foray into the booming build-to-rent market. The company’s portfolio includes 46 multifamily properties totaling more than 15,000 apartment units across several states. In Houston, Marquette has developed Catalyst Houston, at 1475 Texas St. downtown, and Forth at Navigation, at 2404 Navigation Blvd. near where the East End meets EaDo. It has also acquired and renovated East End Lofts at 2115 Runnels St. All are in close walking distance from Minute Maid Park.

In addition, it is currently developing Tempo at White Oak District, a 304-unit apartment complex across from White Oak Music Hall in the Near Northside.

After The Sylvan, the company has more build-to-rent developments in the planning, including in Nashville, Tennessee, and Chicago, both of which should go underway next year, Yuko said.

“We’re big believers in the urban core from the overall development perspective, but we saw post-Covid, that there was a movement out to the suburbs,” he said. “And we also saw that there was this emerging asset class in multifamily, being the (build-to-rent) product, and so we realized that this product was gaining a lot of traction and drawing in a lot of institutional investors.”

Another company known for apartment development and management, Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC, also recently started construction on its first Houston-area community, Summerwell Sunterra in Katy, though it’s not its first in the country.


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