Current Properties

The following is a complete inventory of the properties that I currently own (or, in a few cases, previously owned).

There is a short synopsis by each property and a link that will take you to the details of that property. There is also a separate email address for each property which will route you to the person who manages that property.


I own properties in both Houston and Salt Lake City so please note the location of each property to make sure it is in the city that you are searching for.

Currently I have properties in Montrose, the Heights, Oak Forest, Afton Oaks, Eastwood, Upper Kirby, Midtown, and the Museum District (in Houston) and in the Avenues, Liberty Park, and the 9th & 9th area (in Salt Lake City).

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Classic 1920s Montrose 4-Plex (Houston, TX)

Classic red brick 4plex in the ever popular Montrose area of Houston. Circa 1920s.

Built like a Sherman tank but with looks like Marlene Dietrich.

Easy walking distance to Whole Foods (@ W Dallas & Waugh) and a host of other great shops, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, etc.

Tall ceilings, original hardwood floors, original Art Deco hex-tile in the bathrooms, original cast iron sinks and cast iron tubs... this property has all the details that make these old buildings classics.

Additionally, every unit has been fully outfitted to modern standards underneath the skin of the building--with central air and heat, full-size appliances, new water heaters, etc.

There is also ample off-street, gated, covered parking--a MUST inside the loop.

This is a clean, quiet, peaceful building with great vintage architecture & detailing; the antithesis of "big box" apartment living. If you are looking for a home inside the loop and you love pure vintage but don't want to make the sacrifices that it often entails--this might be the perfect place for you.

I'm pet friendly in general but in these units I prefer no dogs upstairs (units #3 & #4). That's not iron clad but in the 14 yrs I've owned this building, I think I've had maybe one or two tenants with dogs in those upstairs units. So, never hurts to ask but don't be mad if I say no. :) Most dogs not a problem in the downstairs units (#1 & #2).

See pics below for more visuals. Click on any thumbnail to enlarge.

(Project Resources)

M&M Lighting: fixtures
Thorntree: stone flooring & backsplash materials
Yellowstone Marble & Granite: stone countertops
The Detering Company: trim, moulding, doors
Custom Precision Stainless: custom sinks, misc. stainless detailing
Montalbano Lumber: misc. building materials
Trinity & Klassic Hardwood Floors: new & recycled hardwood flooring
DalTile & Emser Tile: ceramic & stone
Custom Cabinets Houston: vintage cabinetry, custom closets & built-ins

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W. Gray St
Houston, TX 77019



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Mid-Century Modern in Galleria / Highland Village (Houston, TX)

Bored with doing the same "Turn-of-the-Century" restoration projects for the previous five years, in 2002 I decided to mix things up bit with a little Mid-Century Modern.

This classic 1950s 8-plex is one of only a few remaining, original, small complexes built in Afton Oaks in the 1950s (before the Galleria was even a twinkle in Gerald Hines' visionary eye. (

Because of its excellent in-town location, unusually large lots, and strictly enforced deed restrictions, the prevailing model in Afton Oaks is to tear down the existing 1950s ranch style houses (@ $600-$700k a pop) and replace them with faux French McMansions and falso Italianate Villas (@ $2 million + a pop). Most of the original, smaller, vintage 4plex, 6plex, and 8plexes like this one have been laid low by that same paradigm shift in recent years.

As tempting as that might be to me financially, I kinda liked Afton Oaks the way it was--quaint and unpretentious--so I decided to recycle this classic building instead of sacrificing it to the gods of consumption.

This project was fun mainly because we got to work and re-work the same basic floor-plan eight times. This allowed me to tweak the scope & look of each unit, improving the functionality and aesthetics of each as we moved through the building. (My own mini Case Study project.) My goal was to end up with eight unique units--and I think I achieved that goal. No two units in the building are exactly alike. Some lean more toward the Vintage and some more toward the Modern--but they are all Vintage Modern.

Aside from the common floor plan of two bedrooms and one bath--and some shared color schemes--every unit has its own personality. Sometimes the differences are subtle. Sometimes they are drastic. But each has its own individual character.

The tenants are generally an eclectic mix of young professionals (25-45). Probably owing to the central courtyard, this property has more of a community feel to it than any other property that I have owned--which I like--and which is why certain types of people prefer a small complex like this over 200, 300, 400 unit complex.

If you work or play inside the loop, this location is hard to beat. "Galleria" is an oft over-used reference point in Houston real estate--especially in apartment listings. This property is literally three blocks due east of the Galleria shopping centers--tucked just inside the 610 loop. You could walk out your front door & be trying on shoes at Neimans in about five minutes. There is also a Central Market, Best Buy, Target, Spec's, and three Starbucks within easy walking distance.

There is also great freeway access to 59, 610, and I-10. And the shopping is the best in the state. (Where else in Houston can you live close enough to walk to Crate & Barrel, Central Market, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie?)

For what they are (700 to 800 s.f., Mid-Century, two bed / one bath flats) these are about the nicest units in this price range that you are going to find anywhere near this location--possibly anywhere inside the loop. They are what they are. If you are looking for shiny new pennies, you'll have to live in a 400 unit property and park in a parking garage. This is eight units. Killer location. Two bedrooms. (Most of the tenants there use them as 1+ study / guest bed set ups.)

See unit details below for pics & info on each individual unit. Click any thumbnail to enlarge.

(Project Resources)
Thorntree (quartz & slate), DalTile, ICI Paints, K&N (appliance), the Detering Company (trim & moulding), Custom Precision Stainless (custom kitchen sinks & other stainless details), Ferguson (misc. plumbing fixtures), Trinity Hardwoods, Klassic Hardwoods (recycled flooring), Custom Cabinets Houston (, M&M Lighting, Bobbitt Glass, Emmanuel del Angel (sheetrock, paint, tile), Morales HVAC, St Charles Electric.

For more info about renting one of these units (policies, procedures, showing dates & times, etc.) send and email to

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Oakshire Drive



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Turn-of-the-Century Mansion (now 6-plex) - (Avenues - Salt Lake City - UT)
Built in 1905 as an enormous single family residence, this classic Avenues mansion was converted into 6 large units at some point over the past 100 years.

My aim when taking on these projects is not to "remodel" these old buildings but to restore them. This may seem like the same thing to a layman but if you have ever sunk your teeth into a 100 yr old building, you understand the difference. (And if you have been looking at apartments in the Aves for very long you will definitely SEE the difference in these units.)

Restoration involves stripping off years of cheap, ill conceived & trendy "updates", poorly done repairs ("handy man" specials), pulling off the old doors, moulding & hardware, stripping off the many, many coats of paint & flooring--the tacky finishes du jour that have been grafted onto the building over the years, upgrading the infrastructure (plumbing, electrical, HVAC)--then put the old doors, fixtures, moulding, and hardware back on.

Invariably some of the original fixtures have been damaged or lost. So that takes me to places like Georges Architectural Salvage to track down replacement doors, knobs, and fixtures.

As you can imagine, this process takes a LOT of time and energy--and of course, plenty of cash money. But the end result is the essence of what makes these old buildings so much more liveable than most of what's been built after the 1940s: original hardwood floors from old growth forests, tall ceilings, big windows with the original art glass, subway tile & mosaic floors, cast iron fixtures, claw tubs. In a word: Vintage.

Another great feature of this building is the original wrap-around front porch--great for chilling out and watching the world go by, studying, surfing the web, or just practicing your bongos or guitar (as a former tenant, Josh, was fond of doing).

There is also plenty of extra storage space in the basement for bikes, kayaks, ski & snowboard stuff, camping gear, suitcases, boxes, seasonal items, or that ugly lamp that you just cannot seem to part with. (Each tenant gets their own dedicated area in the basement and we have never run out of space--it is a BIG basement.)

For the eco friendly tenant the city bus stops right out in front for easy access to the U of U, TRAX, the hospitals, and downtown SLC. And we have a pretty comprehensive recycling center set up on site--including bins for paper, plastic, & glass.

I have also installed a high speed internet connection in the building for the tenants to share (Ethernet & WiFi)--which saves everyone about $60/month--which is nice. We can all use a little extra coin in the pocket these days!

When I see what else is out there for rent in the Aves it kind of makes me sad. So many landlords buy these great old buildings and "remodel" the history and charm right out of them. They end up looking like the latest Home Depot displays. But the sad reality is that it is easier, faster, and a lot cheaper to go to Home Depot and buy junk fixtures & plastic "laminate" floors than it is to spend a month on your hands and knees stripping off paint, and scraping and sanding on the orignal hardwood floors. But man, once you get through the four layers of linoleum and tar paper, and you smell that virgin fir that was hand felled and hand milled by the Pioneers... and a big drop of sweat slips off your brow and hits the floor and soaks in and you know it is gonna be there for another 100 years... man, that's something.

(Project Resources)

- LeDel Pace Plumbing
- Jean Flesher Construction
- Daltile & Contempo Tile
- Kingdon Sheet Metal
- Glidden Professional Paints
- Georges Architectural Salvage
- Rich Heating & Air

So, click on any thumbnail below to see the full sized pic and shoot me an email if you like what you see.

See individual units below for appropriate contact email for that unit.

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SLC, UT 84103



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SOLD! Craftsman Bungalow in the Heights (Houston)
Classic 1920s Bungalow in Woodland Heights.

This sweet Arts & Crafts Bungalow was my home off & on for about five years while I restored it. I spent enough on this project to build an entire house from the ground up--$23,000 in paint alone. (What? Is that a lot?) But in the end I made a few bucks & made a very cool couple from Colorado very, very happy.

My thanks to the many great craftsmen that helped on this project... Eddie Figueroa (floors), Custom Cabinets Houston (, Spencer Elliot & Jayson Morgan (steel fabrication), Emmanuel del Angel (drywall, paint & tile). In any creative endeavor you are only as good as your crew (a blessing and a curse). And I'm fortunate to have some great guys to collaborate with.

Other resources: ICI/Dulux (paints), Thorntree (stone), John Pfister (pier & beam leveling), The Detering Company (moulding & doors), M&M Lighting (fixtures), K&N Builder sales (appliances), Hewitt Airtex (HVAC).

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811 Ridge
Houston, TX 77009



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Liberty Park * Victorian Duplex (SLC, UT)

This duplex was originally built as a single family home back in the late 1800s by the city's first fire chief. It was subsequently split into TWO units sometime around the 1940s.

The upstairs is one unit. The downstairs is another unit. Both units have:

- Tall ceilings.
- Original fir hardwood floors.
- Lots of large windows.
- 1/4 acre lot (twice the size of a normal city lot).
- Large rose & vegetable gardens + fruit trees (plum, apple, pear, peach, apricot, cherry).

Old houses like this have a ton of charm and character... but they may also be a little drafty in the winter and the floors may be a bit wonky and creak a bit here and there. Nothing in life is perfect... especially not a 125 yr old house. For me the trade-offs have always been worth it: aged wood floors, wavy window glass, rich soil under your feet. Some folks get it. Others are better suited for shiny new econobox apartment living with carpet, vinyl, and plastic. Such is life.

Pet policy for this building: Cat(s) or small to medium dog allowed in the downstairs unit. Cat(s) only in upstairs unit.

The two tenants at this property split the utilities. (Gas+Electric+Water+Internet run about $125/month/person (averaged over 12 months)).

See details below for availability. Click on any thumbnail to enlarge.

Reply to with any questions not covered here on in the postings (Craigslist / KSL / Rentler).

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1372 south 300 east
Salt Lake City, UT 84115



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SOLD! Historic Avondale - Houston, TX (Montrose)
IT IS OFFICIAL: As of 26 April, 505 Avondale has a new owner. Congrats Elena & Andre!

One of the original Montrose houses circa 1910, in one of the oldest Montrose neighborhoods--Avondale.

The original 2700 s.f. house was converted a commercial space in the early 1970s by Gary Alan BeBout, who produced Southwest Art Magazine out of this building until the mid-70s. Sometime after that it was leased by Mike Rezoffi, who ran "Rezoffi's" a hair salon, out of the downstairs--while living in the upstairs--for the 20 yrs prior to my purchasing the property in 1999 and converting it back to a single family residence.

The house has been completely updated mechanically, with all new copper water lines (from the meter to every fixture in the house), new gas lines, new drains, new wiring and a 200 amp electrical service, 9 tons of new central air (split system; 4 up 5 down), and new hot water systems.

The house has also been wired with coax cable & cat-5 to all the rooms, surround sound, and a tricked out alarm system with keypads on both floors, motion sensors, glass break detectors, etc.

The "look" of the space is a fusion of early 1900s with some elements of a more modern style, reminiscent of clean, geometric Art Deco lines in the trim and cabinetry, with some definite Craftsman inspiration. I certainly didn't reinvent the wheel here but I think I created something original but that is still derivative of the original architecture.

The floor plan on the main floor is now totally open and very loft-like with the kitchen, living room and dining room all connected in a big L shaped space that takes up about 3/4 of the main floor. The upstairs is pretty traditional in plan. Big master bedroom with a big master bath (with large walk-in shower + claw tub), smallish walk-in master closet with laundry built in, plus a nice sunroom off the master bedroom that has been converted to a kind of dressing room / with additional hanging space by the new owner. There are also two more bedrooms plus a large Jack & Jill or "Hollywood" bath between them.

There are a lot of custom stainless details in the baths & kitchen. The floors are all hardwood up and down, except in the wet areas, which feature period correct hex-tile + custom basketweave & checkerboard patterns in Empress (black) and Carrera (white) marble.

Too many features to list here. I had five years to agonize over the details--and believe me, I did.

Major shout out to Andre and Elena for being even more detailed with their finishes and selections than I am... love the new $2500+ front door! And to Scott Hogue for executing those plans in a way so that the new porch and other details look completely original to the house. Great job one & all.

Historic Avondale Association Vintage Houses Houston

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505 Avondale Street
Houston, TX 77006



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SOLD! Vintage Avenues Four Square (SLC, UT)
O.K. So I sold this house a couple of years ago... but I am leaving it up because I love it so much and am extremely proud of the work we did there.

Talk about your international team of experts... My uncle Keith and two cousins helped me out a lot ("Um... I think you can back off with the phone and cable, Nick... I dont need Cat-5 & ethernet in the bathrooms...")

Emmanuel del Angel and various other crew members flew up from Houston four times over a two year period to rip the roof off and re-build it, strip off the many, many layers of paint, repair and refloat the plaster walls, and install the tile and stone work, re-wire, re-plumb, etc.

Brian Joseph (The Joseph Company) contributed the super tricked out, plush, velvety, reversible, extra comfy window seat cushion for the 9 foot bay window. Jean Flescher (Heber) made the glass doors for the cabinets in the entry. Corey at Elegant Hardwoods (Draper) did a truly amazing job on the floors. And Jose dug up the foundation and re-pointed the 100 yr old sandstone.

And Victor, my Venezuelan electrician flew up to finish the wiring and hang all the fixtures. (It was his first (and only) time on a snowboard--his first time ever in the snow period.)

The only subs that get bad marks are good old GUS LAZARAKIS, the Greek bandit, who has to have the WORST painting crew ever assembled! :) Thank God I only let him paint the outside (which I subsequently had to repaint myself)--thanks a lot GUS! I want my $2500 back!!!) Talk about a bunch of crooked gypsies.

Next, Manwill Heating & Air Conditioning--probably the sloppiest, most apathetic HVAC crew that has ever worked for me or anyone else. They cut holes in my (new) roof about 3x larger than they needed to be--then never even bothered to flash or foam up those holes (big enough to put your arm through). Then, the chucklehead installer hooked up 220v to a 110v air handler... duh! How stupid can you be??? Fried my brand new Trane blower motor--which, after replacing it, left the original burned up motor in the attic, along with a trash bag full of other installation materials and garbage. Oh, and did I mention that they pulled large sections of insulation out of place and did not put them back--and then refused to come back & fix any of the above? But, hey, I am not bitter! :)

And, of course, there were the many, many, many good parties that were thrown in this house along the way... especially during the 2002 Winter Olympics when just about every country was represented at one party alone! (22 different friends stayed in the house over that two week period.)

So, for now, bittersweetly, 1165 Third Ave maintains its place in Medusa Properties history...

(Sold for about $585,000.)

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1165 3rd Avenue
Salt Lake City, UT 84103



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I bought this space a couple of years ago with the intention of dozing it to build three nice Craftsman style houses on the corner lot but I got shanghaied by the City and my "neighbors" and the zoning got changed on the lot between the time I bought it and the time I applied for a replat. Doh! Shit happens.

The building was originally a commercial space of some kind--probably a corner / general store type set up. Some people have suggested that it might have been a post office but the location doesn't seem to support that theory. It's too far off the beaten path to be a post office from that era.

I toyed with the idea of opening a methadone clinic at this location... just to annoy the "neighborhood association"... but more than likely I will bulldoze the house once the land value gets high enough and build a large single family house on it.

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Baylor St
Houston, TX 77009



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Mid-Century Lofts & Flats (Upper Kirby - Houston - TX)

I rescued this little gem from the chopping block in August of 2006. The tenants had all been evicted... the gas meters had pulled out of the ground & the main lines terminated... and the water to the property had been shut off at the main by the city: the wrecking ball was on its way !

But I felt like she had a lot of life left in her. So I got out the pencil & pad and started sketching. Then I got out the sledgehammer and starting demo-ing. And then I got out my checkbook and started writing checks... very big checks! :)

14 months later the first new tenants started moving in... and I've barely had a single day of vacancy since.

Before I bought the property the building had been owned by the same family since it was built in the late 1940s. The entire street used to have many similar properties on it; all but this one had been torn down over the years. (Well, actually Twin Peaks down the street is actually two fourplexes like this one--combined into one big building--then wrapped in a commercial facade. So, technically, it is an original structure.)

The 70 yr old woman who sold me the property had lived there with her family when she was a child; it had remained in her family ever since. Fortunately for me she had no interest in restoring the building. Getting on in years, she had been living off the rents & letting the property run down for the past few decades... (the classic "slumlord" scenario).

This property is just off Kirby, between 59 & Richmond--making it one of the shortest commutes you will find to just about anywhere in the city. 10-15 minutes from every university and college in town; 5 minutes from the Medical Center; walking distance to River Oaks, Greenway Plaza, movie theaters, shopping, and many great restaurants. (Japon & Miyako are both across the street... mmm... sushi!) (Haven, a new, mulit-million $$$, "green" / "farm to table" restaurant went in next door a couple of years ago.

The property has six units total: four larger one bedrooms in the main building (two lofts and two flats) and two one bedroom apartments over the garage.

The look inside is 50/50 "vintage/modern"--but definitely not "traditional", "contemporary", or any other easy / predictable style. I guarantee that you will not find ANY units at ANY property, in ANY price range that have the kinds of fixtures and finishes that I have in these units. I did not have a budget when I restored these units. I just did what needed to be done--and used materials and processes that would last a lifetime. Steel. Wood. Glass. Brick. Stone. Cement. The basic elements.

The two lower units in the main building (#1 & #2) have stained concrete floors & very large private patios in the front. The two upper units are all hardwood floors with nice private decks off the kitchen. The baths & kitchens are all completely custom & high-end with stainless steel appliances from Bosch (dishwashers), Siemens (dual fuel ranges), GE (microwaves fridges & washers & dryers) + natural stone counters, and built-in / under-counter laundry. Overall the look is very modern but with a shout out to the building's 1940s pedigree.


(Project Resources)
- M&M Lighting - fixtures & fans
- Thorntree - natural stone (Quartz countertop material)
- Detering Company - trim, moulding, doors, & windows
- Custom Precision Stainless - custom stainless sinks, sink bases, shelving, etc
- Montalbano Lumber - misc building materials
- DalTile
- West End Roofing
- Ferguson Plumbing Supply
- Custom Cabinets Houston (
- EnergyGuard - expanding foam insulation

For more details about these units send an email to:

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Algerian Way
Houston, TX 77098



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SOLD! 1940s Bungalow In Oak Forest (Houston, TX)
Clean lines and a very human scale are the hallmarks of this 1940s bungalow in the historic Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

I know "BIGGER is better" in today's world but I lived in this 1100 s.f. two bedroom one-and-a-half bath house for nearly five years and loved every minute of it. (My previous two houses were 2500+ s.f. projects from the 1920s in Montrose and the Heights.)

Great location. Close to schools and shopping. Large fenced lot with big detached two-car garage + (my version) of a "dacha" in the back yard.

$10,000 in new driveways and sidewalks--including a big turn-in / circular drive in the front. (off-street parking for 5+ cars)

Great starter home for young professional or small family. Lots of schools and parks close by. Deed restricted neighborhood with very active association keeps the area looking great.

Oak Forest is being called "the new Bellaire" due to the large lots & new houses going up all over the area. But there are plenty of well-kept and thoughtfully restored original houses in the area as well.

Click on thumbnails below to enlarge and scroll through the pics.


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Saxon @ Rosslyn
Houston, TX 77018



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1930s 5-PLEX * INNERLOOP (Houston, TX)

Meticulously restored 1930s fourplex + garage apartment near the Eastwood area of downtown Houston, inside the 610 loop.

All units are 1 bed / 1 bath flats with hardwood floors, central air & heat, vintage style kitchens with high-end, full-size appliances, and vintage style baths with pedestal sinks, subway tile, overhead rainshowers, etc.

This property recently underwent a $230,000 restoration from the foundation to the roof. Though the "look" is vintage and period correct, the mechanicals (plumbing, electrical, hvac) are all new.

The Eastwood area is an up-and-coming, hike and bike friendly, vintage neighborhood just east / southeast of downtown Houston with many original properties built from the early 1900s thru the 1940s. Super short commute times to downtown Houston, both University of Houston campuses, the Medical Center, Rice University, etc--but about 15-20% lower rents than my properties in Montrose, the Heights, Upper Kirby, etc. Same era architecture, same quality restoration... just cheaper dirt (and therefore, more affordable rents).

The city is currently working on a new light rail line connecting the East End to downtown (and thus, the Medical Center & Rice University). This property is two short blocks from this new line. (More info & maps of line here: )

More info about the area:

Project Resources: Olshan (framing, roofing, & sheetrock materials), Bison (doors, trim, moulding), Chesley (plumbing supplies), Crawford (electrical supplies), Custom Cabinets Houston (all interior cabinetry & trim work), Houston Hardwood Floors, Thorntree countertops), Custom Precision (custom stainless sinks)

Click on thumbnails below to see full size images.

Shoot email to with questions or to find out about upcoming vacancy.

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Houston, TX 77011



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Classic 1940s Duplex in 9th & 9th area (Salt Lake City, UT)
Clean simple 1940s duplex in the super popular 9th & 9th area.

Killer location. Close to shops and cafes and restaurants, a Smith's grocery store, Great Harvest, yoga, bike shop, the Tower Theater, etc.

Currently we only rent the downstairs apartment for shorter terms 2 months, 3 months, 4 months), and only FURNISHED. So, if you're looking at an extended stay in SLC (2 months or more) and don't want to stay in a hotel, this might be a great option for you.

All utilities included.

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Herbert Ave
Salt Lake City, UT 84105



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Bungalow in the Heights (circa 1940) (Houston, TX)

Cute little Bungalow in the Heights. Built 1940.

When I bought this house it was the worst house on the street. My goal was to make it the best house on the street. And I think I succeeded. Since that time there has been quite a bit of new construction and some other renovations on the block. The whole area has really come up. (It's that "rising tide lifts all boats thing": As the houses in the Heights proper keep getting more and more expensive--frequently into the millions--the adjacent cute older neighborhoods get pulled up as well.)


- 2 bedrooms + 1 bath
- 1 car garage
- 2 x 3000 s.f. lots (fully fenced)
- large back yard with alley access (great for a future big garage)
- original hardwood floors
- nice kitchen with Stickley style cabinets & high-end appliances
(Bosch stainless d/w; Jenn-air side by side counter depth fridge)
- fresh paint with great colors inside and out (no beige, no tan, no bone, no off-white)
- great Sunset Heights location
- new washer & dryer
- most pets OK with deposit

Did I mention that this place has big screened-in porches in the front AND the back?! (Back porch is 10x18--a huge space--fantastic for grillin' & chillin' with friends or just hangin' out and reading a good book on a breezy fall afternoon. Completely screened in so the skeeters can't get ya.)

New fences, pergola, custom wrought iron gates, & cute landscaping in the front as well.

Custom built-ins in the living room will accommodate up to 60" flat screen.

If you're looking for a solid, cute, affordable, original little house in the Heights, touch base with me at

You won't see another vintage bungalow this tight anywhere in the Sunset Heights area.

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28th St
Houston, TX 77008



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We are a few months into a frame-off restoration of this 1930s Dutch Revival (a rare "Cape Ann" style) two-story house in the Montrose / Museum District of Houston.

Converted to a dark paneled / green shag office space back in the 1960s, we spent the better part of 2010 tearing out miles of phone wire, serial cable, and fluorescent lighting, uncovering original elliptical arched openings, converting closets into bathrooms and bathrooms into closets, enlarging the kitchen, adding wainscoting, crown moulding, ceiling details, recessed lighting and sconces, removing fireplaces, restoring / re-hanging / re-counter-balancing / weather-stripping the original double hung wood windows, restoring the original hardwood floors (long leaf pine (upstairs) and quarter sawn oak (downstairs)), etc.

Will be priced in the $700K range when we're done.

Final layout will include three bedroom (including very large master suite), two and half baths, large formal dining, large formal living, large eat-in kitchen with breakfast area, and a formal study with big bay window. +/- 2400 s.f. of air conditioned interior space + the 1600 s.f. workshop / garage (that has 3 phase power).

Click on thumbnails below to enlarge and scroll through.

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Houston, TX 77006



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Late in 2012 I bought two adjacent properties in Midtown that spanned Holman and Francis streets.

The houses on those two lots--though salvageable--were pretty far gone and functionally obsolete. (A bit too small. 100 yr old plumbing. 100 yr old electrical. No central air or heat. Termites. Rot. General decay. The usual stuff I have to deal with when restoring these old buildings.) But when everything around you has been torn down--or is being torn down--and replaced with new houses and townhouses... there's really not much point--and no particular honor--in being the last man standing... yet again.

Since 1995 I've been buying, restoring--sometimes selling, (but mainly leasing out) historic / vintage properties inside the loop. And one of the reasons I have done this is because I've hated most of what I've seen built in the city of Houston from the 1960s through today. The vast majority of it has been--and still is--cheap, generic crap.

Renovating and restoring is one thing. You take someone else's original ideas... assuming they are decent ideas... and you preserve them (and hopefully improve on them whenever possible). But building from scratch is REALLY putting your money where your mouth is... because you are now putting your own original ideas out there in the forefront and opening yourself up to the same types of criticisms that you've been heaping on other builders for years.

A lot of design work is reductive. In Midtown, we began with 10,000 s.f of land that is 50 ft wide x 200 ft long. That's the starting point. We can't change that size or shape. So we apply the City Planning Ordinance to that lot, in that particular location, with those particular limitations... and from all of the above we end up with a basic site plan... and that site plan gives us the specific footprints for each house.

Step two is taking those specific footprints--in this case roughly 30 feet wide x 30 feet deep--and figuring out how to make all the "necessary things" fit into that footprint. Like a garage. And a front entry. And the stairs. And the mechanical systems. And when it comes down to it, there are only so many ways you can lay out each floor--given the basic site plan and footprint limitations. That's where the reduction comes into play. You place the main / crucial / required elements first... then just fill in everything else around them as functionally, interestingly, and beautifully as possible.

The next big consideration--after you've worked out the site plan and the footprint and the basic layout of each floor--is the "style" issue... which goes hand in hand with the "elevation"--or what the outside of the building will look like. If you're an inexperienced builder--or just a douchebag who doesn't give a damn--you really don't pay much consideration to this question. You build what's easiest and / or what's cheapest to build. Or you build what you "think" will sell--or what you "think" the market wants... or worse yet--what your Realtor tells you is "hot" right now. You don't pay any mind to the houses around you or the neighborhood in general. You build Spanish style villas 5000 miles from Spain. You build Modern / Contemporary style houses in historic, bungalow-filled neighborhoods--or Craftsman reproductions in mid-Century modern neighborhoods.

If you've driven around Houston's inner loop much and seen the new construction of the past 20 to 40 years you will see this type of insanity in every neighborhood--some worse than others. (The Heights, for example, has managed to stay pretty close to its original Arts & Crafts / Bungalow style. Montrose has not been nearly as lucky.)


Back in 1997 I moved to Atlanta (from Salt Lake City) to build houses with a high school friend of mine, Tony Tripoli.

Since high school (mid-80's), our paths had diverged greatly, putting us literally on opposites sides of the country. Tony moved to Jacksonville (FL) in the late 80's (and later to Naples in the early 90's) and got into the home building business almost immediately. I moved to Utah to go college right around the same time. After college I moved to San Diego to start a mortgage company with another friend from Houston.

In the mid 90's, a home building boom in Atlanta brought Tony up from south Florida. By the mid-to-late 90s, Tony had built hundreds of houses for several different big builders and was itching to get out on his own. On the other side of the country, interest rates had ticked up a bit and the refi boom of the 90's was over for a while. And I never really like the mortgage business anyway. So I was looking for a change. I visited ATL for the summer Olympics of 1996 and stayed with Tony and hung out for a couple of weeks. We talked about building houses together and by December of that year I was en route to ATL. Over the next two years we bought infill lots in Midtown and a couple of outlying suburbs and built several houses together that all sold quickly and for a nice return.

Then, in late 1998, on a trip back home to Houston, I bought a 1920s 4-plex in Montrose. (The second Montrose 4plex that I bought in the 90s.) And since the 4-plex needed a LOT of work, I decided to move back to Houston for a while to work on it, restore it, and get it leased up. I kept my house in Atlanta for the time being and figured I'd go back at some point.... I never did. :)

Tony continued building homes in ATL and started doing larger land development deals as well. He went on to be recognized by the local press and his peers as a premier, multi-award winning builder and developer.

Jump forward 10 yrs to 2008 and the financial collapse--and subsequent real estate / construction collapse. Around that time I started talking with Tony about coming back to Houston and picking up some lots here and building some houses together again. But it took almost another five years before things got bad enough in Atlanta--for long enough--to finally get him to pack up and head to Houston. By then the recovery here was in full swing and we were in the middle of another construction boom.

In 2013 we formed The Fine Art of Construction--a joint venture between my main gig (Medusa Properties) and his main gig (Homes by Design). Between the two of us, we've built, renovated, restored, and remodeled well over 500 houses and small apartment buildings--and a few commercial spaces as well. We have over 40 years of continuous real estate, construction, development, and property management experience between us. So I felt pretty confident that these six houses would turn out VERY cool. :)

Over the past few years I've been quietly buying up lots around town as I've had the spare cash and as I've run across great deals. Currently I have four buildable lots in the Heights and six in Midtown. Between those--and the occasional custom build--and misc renovation projects we pick up--we should stay pretty busy.

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Holman / Francis
Houston, TX 77004



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