HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Alex Kamkar managing shareholder at Bold Fox Development, which develops land and creates communities in the Houston area. Kamkar, a graduate of Texas A&M, is currently a member of the Pearland City Council. His firm recently acquired a large tract on the northwest side.
Kamkar raises questions about the ‘build-to-rent’ trend that is creating communities of single-family homes that are intended for rental use. Kamkar asks: Is “built-to-rent’ advancing the pursuit of the American Dream?
Alex Kamkar was a guest on THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT, a podcast produced by Realty News Report. Here is an excerpt from his appearance.
To hear the entire podcast CLICK HERE.
Ralph Bivins: We are here today to talk about a really huge growth sector, one with a lot of demand and not much supply – master-planned communities. We are fortunate to have with us Alex Kamkar, with Bold Fox Development which specializes in master-planned communities. Bold Fox just made a big acquisition of 470 acres on the northwest side of Houston, and they are about to start a new project. Alex, can you tell us about it?
Alex Kamkar :Yes, throughout a lot of 2020, we were working on a 470-acre acquisition in Waller County. We literally have FM 362 as our eastern border. If you are an A&M person and are on your way to see the Aggies play, you’ll see the Buc-ee’s, the huge gasoline station on 290 with about 100 pumps. We are a mile north of that, at 929 and FM 362. We are very fortunate to be working with the Wood family. Actually, we began to work on the acquisition in November of 2019. Then, all of a sudden, we got to February and March 2020. We didn’t know what was happening with the COVID, whether the world or the economy would end. So, at that point, we called the family and told them we were still excited about the project and we still wanted to do the deal, but we were afraid we’d have to move the timetable for development forward. They were very gracious. They worked with us. So, we finally got to the closing in April of 2021. We are very excited to be working with many great groups: Chesmar Homes, one of the top 10 building companies in the area; History Maker Homes, a company that has come down from Dallas that is doing about 1,000 homes a year and is beginning to place a footprint in Houston, and Empire Communities, a very reputable building company in the region. We are very, very excited to be working on this. Getting deals during the COVID times has been tough. We’ve got great partners and a great family that sold us the property.
Ralph Bivins: What do you think are the price points you’ll be hitting?
Alex Kamkar: When we started out, we were in the $240,000 to $250,000 range. Initially, will be at the $350,000 to $375,000 range. We anticipate an eight to 10-year project. Our hope will be that we are somewhere in the $400,000 to $500,000 range near the end of the project. Right now, we are in the range of building 1,200 homes. If you go out on the 290 Corridor right now, you see a lot of interesting stuff. The Daikin plant is there which is one of the largest manufacturing facilities. They have having a problem getting enough people to work there. They don’t have enough people living in close proximity. They must go to Houston and use the Metro to bring employees out there. We are trying to provide workforce housing as well as homes for midlevel management and executives. If you are just starting out on your career or you are thinking of retiring, we will have something for you. That’s kind of been the goal from the beginning.
Ralph Bivins: Daikin is so huge, about 4.2 million square feet. It’s called the largest tilt-wall building in the world.
Alex Kamkar: We took a tour of the site pre-COVID with one of the vice presidents. You don’t realize until you see it what 85 or 86 football fields under one roof looks like. Your eyes just get big; you don’t believe it. This is an amazing facility; it will be a big driver for the 290 corridor. We hope it helps to bring moms and dads to work in this facility. It’s my job as a developer to help create the American Dream, to give people a chance to live close to where they work.
Ralph Bivins :In you written materials about the Waller project, you talk about having an agrarian concept. Can you explain that?
Alex Kamkar:The COVID time has really changed our life outlook. We’ve already started seeing it in my community, with people walking around a lot more. People are walking a lot just to get out of the house after being inside for 11 or 12 hours or spending time home-schooling the kids. For us, we don’t want to completely destroy what’s there in the community, if anything, we want to enhance it. A lot of areas around Waller have an agrarian feel, a rural feel, almost a restorative feel, pastoral in a positive way. We don’t want to fill this community with the hustle and bustle of a Houston If you want to live in Houston, there are ample places to live in Houston. But if you want to come out to our community, chances are you want more space, you want to breathe great air, you want to see the sunsets, you want to feel something different. What we do want is to have something that hearkens back to a rural setting, we want to have a town square, a well-defined town square, a place where you can park in front of retail stores the way you did in the cities of the 1940s and 1950s.
Ralph Bivins :Alex, what about the “build-to-rent” trend that’s been spreading across the US? Builders are constructing single-family communities and often selling them in bulk as rental properties. Institutional investors have acquired from of the build-to-rent properties.
Alex Kamkar: Ralph, are you ready to make some news?
Ralph Bivins: Sure.
Alex Kamkar: I am very, very, very much opposed to build-to-rent. It is subversive to the American Dream. My biggest fear is when you are making homes to be rent homes we are not promoting home ownership – we are promoting de-constructed apartments. There is a place in the industry for that. But the motto my company is: “Creating a canvas for the American Dream.” The idea that I can go out there are say this is just about your payment and nothing else. But this isn’t about home ownership or the American Dream – I can’t get there. I wake up in the morning thinking about how we can put mom and dad in a better situation by having them in a home near a good school, close to their jobs. But I want the renter too have the opportunity to buy that home. This isn’t about dollars and cents at some point. At some point it’s about families and doing right thing for the country. If we are constructing build-to rent just to harvest dollars. That’s not what we are here for.
May 19, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021
To hear the entire podcast CLICK HERE.
For more about Texas real estate, check out the book Houston 2020: America’s Boom Town – An Extreme Close Up by Ralph Bivins. Available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/4a2g6y