By the Bayou: The Laura Apartments Launched at East River

HOUSTON – By Cynthia Lescalleet (for Realty News Report) – The Laura, a modern apartment community within Midway’s East River development, is both housing and a gateway to the mega-scale mixed-use project under way along the north bank of Houston’s Buffalo Bayou in the East End and adjacent to the Fifth Ward neighborhoods.

Rising five stories, the recently completed residential project brings 359 rental units to the overall development.

“The Laura stands as a beacon of modern living, deeply rooted in the area’s storied industrial past,” said Micah Hart, senior vice president and national director of property operations for Parkway, which is managing and leasing the project. Residents will encounter a blend of comfort and convenience “surrounded by the energy of East River’s emerging retail, dining and entertainment venues.”

The site occupies a portion of East River’s first phase, on 26 acres fronting the bayou near Jensen Drive. When completed, the estimated $2.5 billion total development covers 150 acres, with a mile of bayou frontage.

Viewed from above, the new building looks like a deconstructed rectangle, its flanges surrounding outdoor common areas, forming courtyards, and framing dramatic views of downtown’s eastern edge.

The building’s many angles make for interesting spaces and layouts in the common areas. They also throw unit floorplans a lot of buildout variety regardless of number of bedrooms or rental rate.

Residential units range from studio to two-bedroom, or 431 square feet to 1,432 square feet, with modern kitchens, in-unit laundry and solar window shades.

Of note, workforce housing is included in the project for households earning at or below 80 percent of the area median income, about $46,600, according to U.S. Census Bureau stats. These units, 15 percent of the total, are placed randomly throughout the building’s levels and wings.

The design has a warehouse vibe, yet it’s bright inside. A double-height lobby has through-views of outdoor areas in both directions. Wide, open interior spaces provide lounges, collaborative work spaces, a coffee bar and social gathering hubs.

Indoor-outdoor behavior is encouraged and enabled. An example is the garage bay doors on the fitness center. Plus, the bayou’s trails are immediately accessible.

Other amenities include a large-scale pool, dog park and pet spa, bike storage and workshop, and packing storage — with and without refrigeration.

Construction began in August 2021 on the apartments, which welcomed first residents in January.


Since East River’s location has roots in Houston’s founding narrative, The Laura nomenclature honors the steamboat used by the Allen brothers as they made way to the head of the navigable bayou to prove a link to the Gulf of Mexico, an early Port of Houston. And thus their city-building began in earnest.

A lofty, historic account of the bayou’s role and the vessel’s laborious 12-mile, three-day trip from Harrisburg has been inscribed upon the lobby’s sprawling polished concrete flooring.

The story of The Laura steamboat used by the Allen brothers on Buffalo Bayou in the 1830s has been inscribed upon the floor of lobby of new apartments at East River. Photo courtesy of The Laura. File: By the Bayou: The Laura Apartments Launched at East River.

Meanwhile, the building’s industrial design reflects the commerce-based heritage of its location. Design elements nod to shipping, railroads and warehouses that have dominated the city’s east side. Oversized examples include clever use of spiffed up shipping containers for the lobby bar and collaborative work spaces, concrete culverts as booths in the game area, and buffed engineering bricks as punctuated screens between meeting areas.

Common spaces also feature one-of-a-kind artwork by local artists, including a mural by Daniel Anguilu and light installation by MoonPappas.

Kelie Mayfield, founder and CEO of MaRS Culture and MaRS Mercantile, handled interior design of the building’s common spaces. “We aimed to create a multifamily space that not only echoes the industrious spirit of Houston but also weaves a narrative of the East End’s vibrant culture. Through repurposed elements, custom light columns, and carefully curated color palettes, The Laura emerges as a living canvas, telling a story that unfolds with every step, inviting residents to be part of a dynamic and creatively charged community.”

The Laura was developed by Midway and is leased and managed by Parkway. As with the larger development, the architects were Munoz+Albin, with EDI International as architect of record.

Midway materials indicate construction of East River’s first phase is complete. Among the initial office tenants are Impact Networking, Method Architecture, TEAL and Suderman & Young Towing Co.

OJB Landscape Architecture has moved into their new building, one of the first “Studio” for-sale 10,000-square-foot office buildings.

The Laura apartments has a large lobby and amenity space. Photo courtesy of The Laura. File: By the Bayou: The Laura Apartments Launched at East River.

Later this spring and summer the live-work-play options kick in. Confirmed tenants include City Cellars HTX, Kyuramen, La Calle Tacos & Cantina, Lick Honest Ice Creams, Tomi Jewelry, URBN Dental, EADO Eye Studio, Houston Maritime Center + Museum, and Le Tesserae by The Astorian, Champions Mortgage.

Midway is also developing the new headquarters for Port Houston within the development’s first phase.

The Port has grown a bit since the days of The Laura.

HISTORICAL NOTE: The Laura was the first steamboat to navigate the waterways that lead to present-day downtown Houston. The 85-foot, side-wheeler paddle steamer docked on Jan. 22, 1837 at Allen’s Landing in Buffalo Bayou in what is now downtown. The Laura wrecked in 1840, but her endmost fate remains a mystery, according to the  Houston Maritime Center & Museum.

April 3, 2024 Realty News Report Copyright 2024

Photo credit: Courtesy of The Laura



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File: By the Bayou: The Laura Apartments Launched


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