First-time developer plans $24M boutique hotel in the Heights

Bunkhouse Hotels to operate 51-key hotel

Commercial Real Estate, Development
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A first-time developer is bouncing back with plans for a boutique hotel in the Heights neighborhood in Houston.

The Daphne Hotel, at 347 West 20th Street, will stand five stories and span 43,000 square feet. The European-style 51-key hotel will include an indoor lounge, outdoor cabana and ground-floor retail. The hotel will match the historic district’s Victorian-style architecture and knack for antique shops and avant-garde character. Construction is estimated to cost about $24 million, according to a filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Developer Wood Lane Partners planned to construct the Maison Robert hotel at this location in 2019, after receiving approval from the city’s planning commission.

The original plan was also a boutique, French-inspired hotel. Wood Lane Partners founder Ben Ackerley said he’s been inspired by European aesthetics since college and spent 15 years in the hospitality industry before turning toward real estate development. His father, Bob Ackerley, an IT and electronics entrepreneur who co-owns Smith & Associates, bought the tract under an affiliate in 2018. When COVID-19 hit, it upended the junior developer’s vision for the historic district he calls home.

“There are no hotels [in this part of The Heights] and we knew the neighborhood needed one,” Ben Ackerley said. “I wanted to bring one of the first cool boutique hotels in Houston that caters to a leisure crowd. It’ll bring a bunch of other complimentary businesses and show the potential that the Heights holds.”

Construction is expected to start this summer. Massachusetts-based blanchardA+D is the project architect, and Austin-based Bunkhouse Hotels has signed on to manage the property. 

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Ackerley said he expects the full buildout to be completed by 2024 but, given the history of the development, he’s hedging expectations. 

The site is located 10 minutes away from downtown Houston, situated between the Heights Hospital and the Heights Animal Hospital, and down the street from the North West Loop Freeway. Ackerley hopes to also build a parking center and a variety of retail shops to fully develop the area.

It’s been a learning experience, he said.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the last hotel for us,” Ackerley said. “We’re hoping to bring some more hospitality to the Heights.”

The Heights, also known as the Greater Heights, has seen a lot of new development as one of the city’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. OHT Partners broke ground in December on an upscale multi-family project, dubbed Lennox Heights, near the 19th Street commercial district. The artsy Inner Loop district has also seen the reimagining of old industrial areas into adaptive reuse developments

Read more

Eric Barvin in front of the defunct shopping center in the Braes Heights and Linkwood area (Barvin, iStock, Google Maps)
Hundreds of multifamily units planned for site of defunct Houston shopping center
RREAF Holdings CEO Julian MacQueen and Innisfree Hotels CEO Kip Sowden
RREAF and Innisfree Hotels plan $110M Galveston resort
Harris Bay pitches hotel, office-to-resi for Tobin Hill
Recommended For You