BUILDER ROBERT BLAND is a visionary, and he sees the future of Houston living: it’s vertical. Standing in the lobby of his 9th high-rise project, The Wilshire on Westcreek Lane adjacent to River Oaks District, he proclaims, “I think from here to Downtown, every old apartment project will be torn down and replaced with high-rises. Look around. We’ve gotten to that stage. It’s an accepted way of life.”
And he would know, because he has almost single-handedly created that way of life in Houston. Bland, the 90-year-old Principal of Pelican Builders, is responsible for nearly one half of all the high-rises in the city – The Woodway, Woodway Place, Woodway Atrium Condominium, The Greenway Condominiums 1 & 2, 5000 Montrose, The Briarglen and Highland Tower.
Bland came to Houston in 1972, after an engineering and construction career that took him from New Orleans to around the world. Here, the industrious developer met and married his Houston-born wife and launched Bland Development Corporation, which morphed into the entity of Pelican Builders in 1998, which he and Pelican President Derek Darnell have grown substantially over the course of the last two decades. Under the umbrellas of both companies, Bland began developing, building and selling high -ises in a city not known for vertical living options, opening the door for a new era in stylish, turnkey living.
At an age when most men have long since retired, Bland has just completed The Wilshire – a 17-story contemporary show palace on track to sell out by year’s end (only 14 of 96 units remaining at press time) – defying conventional wisdom along the way given that the project was announced just as oil prices were tanking. Not one to rest on his laurels, Bland is now turning his sights on The Revere – a Park Avenuestyle luxury mid-rise in the River Oaks area that will break ground Spring 2018.
“At a certain stage in life, a condominium is the obvious way to live,” says Bland, who lives in one himself. “Suddenly, your kids are gone and you’re in a big house. You don’t want to take care of your yard, your roof is leaking – just call maintenance and let it be their problem. Just lock and leave.”