Tough-Sell: Unicorn Lot In Uptown Seeks New Owner

Share News:


What do you do when every lot around you is redeveloped? In a single-family neighborhood, you hold out for last, assuming your lot gets more valuable with each sale and rebuild. However, when you’re in a commercial area, waiting too long often has a price, not a reward.

As you can see highlighted above, one lot is surrounded by the Gables Uptown Trail apartment building. You know that Gables tried desperately to acquire that Uptown parcel well before it came online in 2011.

Today, a new Marriott is under construction by Alamo Manhattan. When it was first announced, there was a lone holdout on the corner of their half-block parcel. It was an old house-turned-art gallery. Ultimately Alamo Manhattan persuaded the owners that selling was better than being an orphan on a tiny, un-developable lot.

Recently, the highlighted holdout lot came on the market, located kitty-corner from the Marriott at 3104 Fairmount at Carlisle Street. The 5,968-square-foot lot, including a 1,534-square-foot home built in 1945, currently house a framing and rare maps business. The plot is listed with Patrick Harris of Briggs Freeman for $2.2 million (pardon Ebby link, it’s not on Briggs site). A build-to-suit arrangement is also possible, as is owner financing.

The now commercially zoned house is a fanciful reminder of what Uptown used to look like before the car dealers, tarot card readers, and its most recent gentrification push. There are precious few of these bygone reminders dotting the area.

Gables apartments have become trees

The listing patter talks about its proximity to the Marriott and one image reimagines the existing house as a restaurant with Gables apartments seemingly becoming a forest. The problem I see (besides the trees) is that it’s a tiny lot with virtually no parking.  Restaurant use is hugely parking intensive, and given it’s cheek-by-jowl with the Gables, noise from any outdoor-enabled business would be a constant issue.

Underground parking would be fabulously expensive. Plus coupling the needed ramping and turn arounds with the small lot and I don’t see that as an option.  Above ground puts anything on stilts requiring elevator access.

Clearly, Gables has no need of the property now, having built around it. Marriott also seemingly has little use for it (although with valet parking likely has the space).

I may be completely wrong, but I think this lot stayed too long at the party and the lights have come on. The listing agent calls it a “unicorn” whereas I see an orphan.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

Posted in

Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

Reader Interactions


  1. mmCandy Evans says

    Timing. Real estate is all about timing. Great quote at the NAREE conference in Miami a few years back, something about how real estate is like getting on a staircase and knowing which step to be on, which one not to be on, when the earthquake hits. That charming little house is claustrophobic but would make a cute little museum to yesteryear.

  2. FestinaLente says

    That picture frame lady should’ve sold a long time ago. Greed is good to a point, after which it just becomes dumb. Good luck getting that price for that postage stamp sized lot. Be real interesting to know how much Alamo paid for the condos and couple other houses on that block that were all torn down for the Marriott…

  3. plsiii says

    $2M seems a bit ambitious… however parking shouldn’t prohibit its development if the building is preserved. There’s plenty of parking that could/should be able to be shared with all the surrounding (new) development…

  4. Robert W McAtee says

    Isn’t that garage half a block away open?

    A restaurant/bar would do well… you have the hotel traffic along with the residents in the apartment complexes nearby. Even the average Chili’s does about 6k a day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *