In 1891, the founders of the Heights purchased 1,700 acres and developed the Houston area’s first planned community. It was immediately popular because people could ride the streetcar into downtown Houston, live in a small community atmosphere and the area had a higher elevation, which meant fewer mosquitoes and less threat of cholera, which was rampant at the time. The city had an independent jail, hospital and city hall. It was annexed by the city of Houston in 1918 because they were unable to fund the schools without the wider tax base of the metroplex.
Located inside the Loop, the Heights stands on its own in the minds of most Houston area residents. The Heights has managed to maintain its vintage appeal with rows of restored Queen Anne and Craftsman-style homes. Towering pines and grand magnolia trees abound. It still has a charming downtown district on 19th street with quaint restaurants, antique stores and other quirky retail stores.
While purists will say the Heights is only the original 1,700 acres, most people expand the definition of the Heights to include Timbergrove/Lazybrook, Garden Oaks, and other communities in the general area. The Heights is more of an attitude than a strict geographic boundary. People in the Heights want to be close to Houston, yet separate. They want easy access to freeways, but also be able to take the back roads into downtown or out of Houston all together. But mostly, they want to have neighbors who will say hello to them. They want to support individually owned retailers and restaurants.
At one point, the Heights was known for being an affordable place to buy a home. Renters could get a cheap single family home and still be close to the city. During the past decade everything has changed and the Heights has become one of the priciest communities in the Houston area.
Some people restore the glory, beauty and historic architecture of an existing home. Developers are also tearing down old buildings to build sleek, modern three-story urban communities. New residents can choose which type of home fits them best. The reason people want to live in the Heights is a combination of easy commuting access to anywhere, the quirky personality of a small town and proximity to downtown.
When we talk about “The Heights”, it makes sense to first define what we mean my this community. The purists only see the Heights as the original city established in 1891, but people from all around this 1,700 acres will tell you they are from the Heights because the area is well-known and popular. Let’s define our description as the Greater Heights area to cover multiple communities in the area.
Real estate in the Heights can be a little tricky with the deed restrictions and proximity to noisy freeways. Some of the homes lack a good floor plan for today’s families and make it hard to remodel without extensive costs. There is a wide variety of builders in the area and not all of them are known for quality construction. Few areas require the assistance of a qualified real estate agent as much as this area.
Six Historic Districts
Beginning in the 1970’s groups of residents organized to promote revitalization of the area. Each individual area has slightly different restrictions. Learn more on this page. Those restricted districts are:
- Houston Heights Historic District East
- Houston Heights Historic District West
- Houston Heights Historic District South
- Norhill Historic District
- Woodland Heights Historic District
- Germantown Historic District.
Homes in the Heights were originally built as one-story bungalows in some areas, with larger Victorian-styled homes in others. As the area experienced a shift during the 1990s and some homes were demolished, the long-time residents didn’t want to see the area lose its relationship with history. The historic districts were born and resulted in a rich mix of diversity including the character from history and modernity of an upscale community.
Residents have seen their equity grow rapidly in this area with single family homes sizes beginning at around 1,000 square feet to more than 4,000 square feet and lot sizes can range from 2,000 to more than 13,000 square foot. Prices begin around $200,000 to more than $1.3 million. Modern townhomes range from $300,000 to 700,000. A few high rise/mid rise condos are found in developing portions of the area. Commercial establishments are largely individually owned and a little quirky, but the franchised companies are beginning to make inroads where they can.
Located just north of the 610 loop is a community of about 1400 homes. It features tree-lined streets, large lots and deeply connected neighbors. Even though the residents of Garden Oaks enjoy the proximity to all the features of downtown Houston, it is a surprisingly quiet neighborhood with the natural charm of a small town with lots of mature magnolias, towering pines, oak and pecan trees everywhere you go. Most of the lots are 12,000 square foot or larger and lush landscaping is found everywhere
Oak Forest (East and West)
Originally a working class community of 5,500 homes built around the 1970s, Oak Forest East and Oak Forest West has maintained its quaint charm while seeing enormous increases in equity. The neighborhood feels very suburban, but is located just to the west of Garden Oaks and right outside the 610 Loop. Compared to other communities around the Heights, families will find Oak Forest to be more affordable.
Timbergrove / Lazybrook
Located just west of White Oak Bayou, these two adjoining deed-restricted communities feature primarily one-story mid-century styled brick homes. Originally settled by German farmers, this area was developed in the 1950s with large lots. It was named for the natural grove of pine trees established in the area. The community has seen a big shift from retired neighbors to young professionals in recent years.
This community is located just to the south of the Heights itself. While it is south of I-10 and may not be considered the Heights by many, we mention it here because the community has seen rapid equity growth and development during the last decade. You will find old single family homes, new custom construction and gated town home communities in Cottage Grove.