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HOUSTON-Houston’s Morgan Group Inc. and Denver’s Amstar Group Ltd. are partnering on their second high-end multifamily project in Houston. This time, the team gets a piece of the Galleria action as it prepares for a fourth-quarter ground-breaking on 324 units.

The partnership just closed on a 4 1/2-acre project site, one of two remaining tracts in a 22-acre quadrant that’s been parceled off to various developers over the last 14 years. The land along Sage Road near the Hildago Road intersection came to market at an asking price of $40 per sf or $7.8 million. No one’s talking about the selling price or even the construction cost for the tony mid-rise, 3000 Sage.

Stan Creech of Stan Creech Properties tells GlobeSt.com that the remaining four-acre tract won’t be sold by Galaxy Investments for some time. He expects that land will go for $50 per sf by the time the Houston owner’s ready to sell. He believes it too is destined to end up in the hands of a multifamily developer.

In 1988, Galaxy bought the 22 acres in a plan to build a high-end, master-planned project with a hotel, condos, office buildings and retail space. Houston’s post-1988 development in climate changed the development strategy. Now 14 years later, Galaxy’s vision for Sage Road is close to being fulfilled even though it’s being done at the hands of other developers. Genesis Real Estate Group acquired a tract for its 30-story Mark, now under construction on land abutting the 3000 Sage site. Other tracts hold a CVS Pharmacy, ExxonMobil service station and three-story, 10-year-old Gables apartment community.

Allan Patton, the Morgan Group’s president, says 3000 Sage’s design has unusually high finishes for a rental property: slab granite kitchen countertops, hardwood flooring, 10-foot ceilings in some units and CAT 5 wiring for computer, fax and telephone lines. The average unit will be 1,000 sf, leasing for about $1.40 per sf. There will be 133 one-bedroom units, 118 one-bedroom/study apartments, 68 two-bedroom designs and five live/work units with retail storefronts aimed at professional offices.

Creech and Patton agree the strongest dynamic working for the project is the 700,000-sf Galleria IV addition, going up one block west and bringing a Foley’s and Nordstrom to its all-star lineup. The Galleria project delivers in March 2003; 3000 Sage’s first tenants will be moving in a few months later.

Projects under construction in the Galleria and those soon to start, such as 3000 Sage, are breathing “new life into the south side of Westheimer,” Patton says. The 3000 Sage site was once considered the backside of the Galleria, but it’s now a prominent part of the profile with the retail expansion and a new exit off the West Loop onto Hidalgo Street.

Houston’s Wallace Garcia Architects designed 3000 Sage. Morgan Construction Co. will be the general contractor. The Morgan Group will develop, manage and lease the property as it did for the partnership’s Estates at Memorial Heights. Amstar is acting as consultant.

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