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Old 07-17-2013, 10:32 AM   #1
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Champions Forest Area neighborhoods & Homes-Greenwood Forest Huntwick Ponderosa

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Old 07-17-2013, 10:35 AM   #2
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All those homes are in America
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:41 AM   #3
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All those homes are in America
Thats the best part about them
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:44 AM   #4
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fancy taste from someone who claimed....nevermind.
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:50 AM   #5
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Thats the best part about them
The government taxes and patrols there
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:54 AM   #6
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Don't forget to factor in electricity costs for a home that size. I had a 3,600 sq/ft house with a pool and was pleasantly suprised with $1,000 electricity bills the first summer I lived there.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:08 AM   #7
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we need a lot of room. this looks like the cheapest way to achieve it and still be reasonably commutable to westheimer / I-10. From what Ive seen the structural integrity (2x6 exterior framed walls) and quality of these architect designed homes far exceeds the newer cookie cutter cheap labor built homes. These were built back when skilled craftsman were building homes. some of the carpentry and cabinets ive seen in these houses are exceptional....

I imagine double pane windows, radiant barrier in roof and maybe new insulation will be needed...
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:10 AM   #8
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Most those homes are pretty dark inside with chopped up floor plans.

We looked at a few like that with the larger sqft, but it would have cost another 100-150K just to upgrade to what we would have liked. Plust the yards are small

Floor plan is just as important as sqft.

If you like that style check out lakes of Rosehill

I'd go with a newer house, especially with somthing that big....lots of repairs
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:10 AM   #9
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The government taxes and patrols there
I heard this area has some of the lowest taxes around
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:12 AM   #10
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Don't forget to factor in electricity costs for a home that size. I had a 3,600 sq/ft house with a pool and was pleasantly suprised with $1,000 electricity bills the first summer I lived there.
this is our biggest issue I think... right now my cardboard cookie cutter 1600 SF rent house costs 500-550 a month to cool to 70 degrees

I imagine high efficiency upgrades and new HVAC will be in order....
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:13 AM   #11
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I'd go with a newer house, especially with somthing that big....lots of repairs
thats the problem... for the same sq. footage and build quality we would be looking to pay a custom home builder well over a million dollars.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:54 AM   #12
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Take those six homes and put them individually on six pieces of paper. Now place them on a wall and take ten paces away from them. Turn and face them. Take a blind fold and cover your eyes. Now take a dart and toss it at the home you want. Whatever you hit is your answer to your dilema.



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Old 07-17-2013, 11:56 AM   #13
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Consider electric bills. A close friend recently moved away from Champions Park in a home built in the early 80's. With a pool I recall he had an electric bill of $700 in one month a couple years ago.
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:12 PM   #14
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I found some good review info from a guy on city-data.com...

His name was "greenwood_insider"

Quote:
I have been undergoing a very dedicated and focused housing search in the North Houston area between 249 and I-45 along 1960 for the last 9 months. I am new to the area and relocated here from New York City. I have become quite familiar with NW Houston since I am currently living in a temporary apartment in the area. After 9 months of searching across the entire Houston area for a house, I have continued to return and focus on these beautiful neighborhoods along 1960. Likewise, I've come to realize that 1960 is not much better or worse than most 'commercial corridors' in unzoned Houston. Yes, it is a sprawl and generally not pretty. I have absolutely had second thoughts, but once you are beyond it and within the neighborhoods themselves---it is truly not an issue. Truth be told, suburban sprawl is 'suburban sprawl' and 1960 is not much different than parts of Westheimer or Hillcroft in West Houston. I've even warmed up to it a bit--since sometimes you can find some great ethnic restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops along 1960. That said, the commercial areas in the vicinity of 1960 and Champion Forest Drive (Champions Village) are definitely the best of 1960 between I-45 and 249. Willowbrook Mall has an Apple Store, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Dillard's--all indicators of buying power in the area.

Regarding the residential neighborhoods of FM1960, many are gorgeous and the houses are far more spacious and affordable than anywhere else in the Houston metro area. Single-family neighborhoods of comparable architectural and master planning qualities along FM1960 include: Ponderosa Forest, Olde Oaks, Oak Creek Village, Greenwood Forest, Champion Forest, Huntwick, Woods of Wimbledon, and Memorial NW. Of these, I would place Champion Forest, Huntwick, Greenwood Forest, and Memorial NW at the upper end.

I'm an architect and generally impressed at the quality of materials and detailing for 'builder' homes in Greenwood Forest, Huntwick, Memorial NW, and Ponderosa Forest. I am also impressed by the way in which most homes have been maintained. These houses were designed in distinct 1960s/70s interpretations of 'historical revival' classic architectural styles. Many houses are 'period' detailed to reflect Georgian, English Tudor, Norman French, Louisiana French styles--most are very well articulated. Street networks and 'corner lot houses' are exceptionally well-sited, garages are 'screened', and back yards are very private. Mature trees were reserved, so the neighborhoods feel established. It's almost like 'living in a park'--truly idyllic. The newer neighborhoods in Houston cannot hold a candle to the well-planned and forested beauty of these 1970s neighborhoods along FM1960.

After initially being very interested in Ponderosa Forest, I ultimately decided to stay west of Kuykendahl and focus on Greenwood Forest, Huntwick, and Memorial NW--these neighborhoods feel more established and supported by better retail and greater consistency. The most 'aesthetically challenged' eyesores of FM1960 are located between I-45 and Kuykendahl. The best neighborhoods are strung along the Champion Forest Parkway which is the most cohesive and elegantly planned part of the area. It's a gorgeous forested parkway with good retail, elegant homes, and attractive landscaping. The houses are really quite fantastic--interior wainscoting, upscale woodworking details, double height spaces, gracious foyers, detached/hidden garages, and 'private' and very manageable backyards. Many houses have pools and mature custom/professional landscaping.

From a qualitative standpoint, it all feels very 'upper middle class'. In comparison, a house like these would be 800K and up in the Northeast Corridor suburbs of Philadelphia, DC, New York, Boston, and about 350-500K in Midwestern cities like Chicago, Cleveland, or Minneapolis. For people from outside of the region, these FM1960 residential neighborhoods 'feel' like places such as Mineola, NY; Shaker Heights, OH; Glencoe, IL; Westchester, NY; Bethesda, MD; NW Washington, DC; and parts of the Philadelphia Main Line. Likewise, for people from major coastal cities and the Northeast, the diversity will seem natural and not 'undesirable' as noted in the 'coded' wording of many of these posts. These are diverse communities, well maintained, and gorgeously forested. The houses stately and elegant. Most need updates, but the bones are good and the construction quality far exceeds newer houses from the 1990s and recent decade. My workplace is in downtown Houston, and the timed commute leaving Greenwood Forest at 9.00am gets me downtown in 35 minutes.

After an extensive housing search that initially focused on Ponderosa Forest, then Spring, along Louetta, and Memorial NW, I ultimately decided on Greenwood Forest. I purchased a 3500 square foot, all brick, Georgian/Tuscan 'mini-mansion' for 160K. Priceless. The house is absolutely gorgeous. I would have had to pay a million bucks for this in Westchester County, NY! Greenwood Forest is an area that 'feels' like an upscale 'Northeastern' suburb. Just wonderful and I love it. It is also the 'closest' neighborhood to the 'city', allowing a reasonably direct connection down Champion Forest and Bammel N. Houston road to Beltway 8. While I do not have children, I do think my neighborhood is certainly well suited to families--but perhaps even better for people relocating from dense/expensive cities--people that will appreciate the value and beauty of this special place. Empty nesters and single people that like to entertain will love these houses with their wetbars, double formals, game rooms, terraces, and in-ground pools. Larger families will have space to spread out and communal neighborhood club amenities to enjoy. It's an enviable lifestyle that most middle class families cannot afford. My real estate agent clearly conveyed the pros and cons of all the neighborhoods in the 1960 area, as well as West Houston. For resale value, we ultimately focused on the Klein school district and tried to look for the larger houses priced at lower price points.

Houston is a dynamic and changing city. It is not a place where 'bubble' lifestyles are very attainable anymore. Yet, that is part of the beauty of living in Houston--it is multicultural and international. It's really wonderful to have access to the entertainment, cultural, and food options that diversity affords. Many FM1960 neighborhoods offer an 'upper middle class' lifestyle (embedded into a diverse, vibrant, and 'sprawling' city) at a fraction of the cost. I highly recommend it if those are things that you value.
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I just bought a house in Greenwood Forest and I love it. It is truly a gorgeous place...
International Alley is a hodge-podge for sure, but an interesting hodge-podge. Great restaurants!
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:13 PM   #15
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cont'd
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Thanks Glossa. I appreciate your compliment. I'm actually a university professor and teach architecture and urban design, so I have a lot of opportunities to (try to) hone my writing skills! I usually write in journals and not these types of forums, but I do think that it's important to tell the 'story' of these FM1960s 'Champions' neighborhoods from my personal perspective.

Regarding the neighborhoods...take a look for yourself in person. You'll see--it is a very special place. Make sure to drive down Havenwoods and Foresthaven between Champion Forest Drive and Greenwood Forest Drive. Wow! What beautiful streets--like pages out of a storybook--great landscaping, great facades, and all around impressive. One word: Aspirational. My mother thinks my house looks like an embassy in Washington, DC! She's pretty proud of me. I'd call it 'suburbia, but done the right way'. I imagine it would be a great place for children to grow up in...a place to feel proud of.

It's an absolutely great feeling driving down these streets on my way home. I'm sort of 'beside myself' and can't believe it! My friends and family visit from major cities that are much more expensive than Houston--New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Connecticut and they're flat-out stunned by the beauty of these neighborhoods. It really feels like you're 'making it' when you pull into Greenwood Forest, Champion Forest, and Huntwick. These are all places that you can fall in love with...yet, they are also places that you can afford. That's the beauty. My brother from L.A. said that it was 'fun' helping me find a house in Houston because we could actually look at all the good stuff--and that I could actually afford it. We would pull up to houses and he'd say: "That would be 1.2 million in L.A.". Mind you, this is definitely not L.A. and not Beverly Hills, but it looks and feels as impressive and expensive. It's basically living very well, but for only around 150-200K. It's a well kept secret.

My real estate agent was a very level-headed and rational woman, and perhaps even a bit conservative and conventional. She told me that the reason neighborhoods generally do not 'appreciate' rapidly in Houston is because there is ALWAYS new construction further out. Thus, there is always an option to build affordably. Perhaps due to the vast unskilled labor pool and less aggressive Sunbelt building requirements, construction costs and building materials are much lower here when compared to the Northeast and Midwest. The houses in these FM1960 neighborhoods were probably built for 45-65K in the early/mid-1970s. Thus, they have actually appreciated three-fold or so, which puts them between about 150K-220K.

If you choose to live anywhere along Champion Forest Drive--which is Greenwood Forest, Huntwick, Champions West/East/North, Memorial NW, you can use Champion Forest Drive as your link between shopping, schools, amenities and the Beltway 8. It's extremely pleasant--like a parkway in a model 'planned' suburb like Shaker Heights, OH. If you do that, you can generally avoid the suburban sprawl and traffic on FM1960. The Champions Village shopping area is very pleasant and desirable. Lots of 'fancy' cars and well-dressed people. The other nice thing is that people here seem to be 'well put together', but also super friendly and down-to-earth. I like that. In comparison, I was considering The Woodlands and it felt a bit unfriendly and aloof to me. The communities also felt 'staged' and 'plastic' in comparison--as well as very far from the city. In these 'Champions' neighborhoods, there's a discernible 'old school respectability' and an understated-ness. If you like 'good visuals' and no attitude...these would be good places to live. If you also want to live a bit 'apart' from the city center (Inner Loop/Downtown/RiverOaks), but still be within a reasonable commutable distance of about 35 minutes, these neighborhoods will work for you.

I undertook an exhaustive real estate search over 9 months between September 2011 and May 2012. Initially, I considered the entire metropolitan area, but soon focused my efforts on both the FM1960 area and The Woodlands. I ultimately chose the 'Champions' area (Greenwood Forest) instead of The Woodlands because:
1. Closer to downtown.
2. More 'connected to the city'.
3. Feels 'more real'.
4. Offers better housing values with larger square footage.
5. Conveys a more understated atmosphere.

To give you an idea of shopping within a one-mile radius of Greenwood Forest, Champion Forest, Huntwick, and Memorial NW, these are the types of stores that you will find in the vicinity and within the Willowbrook Mall:
Sur La Table, La Madeleine, Palais Royal, Joseph A. Bank, Container Store, Ann Taylor, Apple Store, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Panera, Starbucks, Macy's Dillards, ALDO, Bebe, H&M, Target, Jessica McClintock, Pandora, Swarovski, Barnes & Noble, etc..

Certainly these are not 'super high-end' stores but I'd call them respectable with a touch of 'upper middle class', and generally indicators of an 'aspirational' buying power that seems to be typical in the neighborhood. But the 'cool-factor', in my opinion, is that you also can find excellent ethnic restaurants and mom-and-pop shops along FM1960 and Veterans Memorial that cater to 'non-chain store' wants and needs. It's definitely an interesting mix of 'high-low' and 'global-local'. I like that. It still feels like multicultural Houston and connected to 'the city'.

At the end of the day, I wanted the look and feel of River Oaks but could not afford it. Instead, I found that type of house here, in Greenwood Forest. If you like River Oaks, cannot afford it but want something that feels like it, these neighborhoods might work for you. They do not feel like cookie-cutter, sprawling, and clear-cut 'suburbs'. They feel stately. They are respectable. They feel special.

All in all, it's a great haven and perhaps the best kept housing secret in Houston!
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:14 PM   #16
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cont'd

http://www.city-data.com/forum/houst...l#post24665041



Quote:
Thanks John. I think these are great neighborhoods. As an architecture professor, my education and career are based around architecture, design, and urbanism, so writing about these topics comes natural to me.

It is a bit of a shame that Houston didn't continue to 'build like this' beyond the early 1980s. I found a discernible 'shift' in houses and neighborhoods after about 1984. The best neighborhoods and houses, in my opinion, were built in the FM1960 area between 1970 and 1978. These appear to have the best master planning and architectural characteristics. The classically-derived architectural 'styles' are more accurately executed. The 'urban design' is generally modeled on 'old school' inner ring suburbs like River Oaks. Three communities are most 'derivative' of the River Oaks aesthetic would be Ponderosa Forest, Greenwood Forest, and Huntwick. I was continually drawn to these neighborhoods.

I do believe that the builder-contractors of these communities consciously channeled the 'River Oaks' aesthetic. In the 1970s, central city neighborhoods were clearing out, and people were heading to the 'suburbs'. The 'River Oaks look' was co-opted since it conveyed 'class', 'elegance', and 'style'. Thus, private--almost courtyard-like yards, detached garages, lush landscaping, square curbs, mature trees, formal street-networking, and classic architectural styles conveyed a strong image to potential buyers. From what I can determine, by about 1985, builder-contractors in Houston shifted priorities. They made lots smaller, they built in 'Mannerist' styles, and they generally began clear-cutting lots to 'squeeze' more stock into less space. The stately qualities of these neighborhoods are, in part, 'architectural', but also connected to their 'urban design' strategies. The scale and proportion of 'lots'-to-'house sizes' is exceptionally (and fascinatingly) well-calibrated. As an architect, I would actually call it 'perfect'. I almost never call anything perfect..!

I'm a professor--so I tend to be obsessive about such things and 'found' this through my 'exhaustive' feet-on-the-pavement search and research. Supporting that effort, my real estate agent was incredibly patient and rigorous! I am actually surprised that she did not abandon me. I would call myself a perfectionist--so she was a true blessing. I would drive the neighborhoods at all times of the day to 'gauge' the atmosphere in the morning, mid-day, and evening.

There is very little readily available 'documented' history of residential development along the FM1960 corridor. These houses were built, but not analyzed and discussed by architects and theorists. They were built during an era of rampant suburban sprawl to provide homes for typical families. Thus, I had educate myself on 'finding' my own information--and perhaps the reason I want to finally share my perspective in this forum. I began refining my methods to only consider houses and neighborhoods built between 1970 and 1984. These FM1960 houses, along with the vast majority of housing stock in the United States, are not 'architect-designed' houses. They are 'builder-contractor' houses, but in my opinion, they are very well executed 'builder-contractor' houses. The materials, detailing, scale, proportion--all of these characteristics were carefully controlled. There is an unique color and material 'sensibility' to each neighborhood. When you drive through each neighborhood, you can feel it. Each has a slightly different take on 'color, materials, style'. Olde Oaks is more 'tan-brick', 'contemporary', and less 'styled'. Greenwood Forest is more 'classic' and 'stately'. These places feel unique and authentic. It's all very interesting...

The FM1960 area has a very substantial amount of this type of housing stock and neighborhood type--built between roughly 1970 and 1984. To those unfamiliar with the area, many of the following neighborhoods have similar master planning and architectural characteristics:

(Listed from East-to-West-then-North) Ponderosa Forest, Northgate Forest, Olde Oaks, Oak Creek Village, Greenwood Forest, Huntwick, Champions, Champion Forest, Woods of Wimbledon, Spring Creek Oaks, Memorial NW

So there is, in fact, a pretty vast amount of this type of housing available and most of it is contiguous, apart from Ponderosa Forest. Furthermore, it seems like the majority of people living in these neighborhoods are engaged in actively 'stewarding' their homes and their communities. It seems like people understand that they living somewhere that is special. Likewise, the HOAs appear to be strong and inclusive. In my opinion, both are good signs. These neighborhoods also seem to attract people who are invested in multiculturalism and value it. As an Italian American (compliments of my mother's family through Ellis Island)--I can relate to that.

I plan to become involved in the organizations that engage with beautification of the FM1960 corridor. As you know, it's important to get involved in one's own community and to participate in the collective stewardship of our built environment!
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:16 PM   #17
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Most those homes are pretty dark inside with chopped up floor plans.

We looked at a few like that with the larger sqft, but it would have cost another 100-150K just to upgrade to what we would have liked. Plust the yards are small

Floor plan is just as important as sqft.

If you like that style check out lakes of Rosehill

I'd go with a newer house, especially with somthing that big....lots of repairs
This is the problem I'm having. All the houses that are in my price range, have a pool, and have the schools I want are all chopped up. 2,500 sq/ft of house consisting of 22 different rooms. LOL. Would probably be a lot cheaper had they not build two miles worth of walls in the house.
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:16 PM   #18
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Consider electric bills. A close friend recently moved away from Champions Park in a home built in the early 80's. With a pool I recall he had an electric bill of $700 in one month a couple years ago.
ya I realize the bigger the house the bigger the bill. I think we can get it down around 600-700/month during summer after I make efficiency upgrades and we make a conscious effort to conserve.
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:35 PM   #19
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:40 PM   #20
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Windows, new energy efficient windows would make a huge diff

My house is 5 yrs old, 3500ft, highest bill so far, $240

Those older houses are going to need a lot of upgrading to become somewhat efficient

Parents have 4600 built in the mid 90's, elec is crazy high.

Even custom homes in that era are very inefficient, the rest of the homes on my parents 'hood are all kickerillo and are just as bad

Champions used to be nice, way back, nite it s not

Friend son and his g/f we're car jacked at champions and 1960, kidnapped her and raped her..they moved way out towards new caney

No matter what, big house comes w big bills

Dvl, he's a piper, lol
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