Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Nightlife at Doux Chene Apartments

See those stairs leading up to the second level in the main office building? That's the focus today here. (Google Maps Picture)

By the time of Doux Chene Apartments' rename to "Flats on 12" in April 2015, the apartments had seen better days, having formerly been known as Doux Chene Apartments. Where do I start, though? Doux Chene Apartments were originally built in 1973 as a clone of the upscale singles-style apartment complexes that were popular in Houston at the time (though a 1980 ad doesn't indicate that it was singles only).

Mansard House advertised themselves as "country club apartment living", and trendy enough to be the first true mixed-use building in the City of College Station. From circa 1974 to late 1970s, it was "Mansard House". Mansard House, despite being the upper level of an apartment complex on the edge of town was one of the really nice places in town. Live entertainment, seafood, lobster, lamb, and more were all on the menu. The restaurant featured a large balcony on the rear of the building.

When I wrote this post originally I implied there were some Houston apartments like this, but upon doing more research, the "integrated restaurant" idea was rarer than I thought and I can't think of a true example. By 1980, while Doux Chene was still successful, Mansard House had closed and was replaced with Studio 2818, an actual discotheque.

Source: personal collection

Later night clubs included Dallas: The Night Club...

...and finally, Scandals.

Most of these are sadly relatively undocumented, only whispers across forums and other sources, including stories of ladies' nights with male strippers, with men being let in after the women had several drinks. Perhaps it's better that some of the craziness that went on is better left unsaid (I'm sure there were many regrettable nights). The most fascinating part is that Mansard House and some of the nightclub operations that followed left Doux Chene in the 1980s and opened what would be Hurricane Harry's in 1990.

In the original version of the post, I implied that the Doux Chene Apartments had fallen into disrepair, including a series of disasters...a tornado and a penchant for apartment fires as well, prompting a letter from management at the time, which is below.
"While your account of the history of the complex is mostly accurate, I take issue with the assertion that Doux Chene has not 'managed to upkeep itself.' While the property did fall into a state of disrepair in the late 80's to the early 90's, the current management has put a lot of effort (and money) into repairs and renovations and enhancements. While there is no hiding the fact that the property is 40 years old, it is in very good condition for a property of its age.

Doux Chene has indeed encountered more than its share of challenges.

A lightning strike destroyed 4 apartment units, severely damaged a dozen others. No injuries, a quarter of a million dollars in damages.

Severe hail required the replacement of nearly a dozen roofs, another quarter of a million dollars.

The tornado in 2006 actually destroyed two buildings, damaged several roofs, caused water damage in nearly 80 apartments, required replacement of over 160 central air conditioning systems. Total casualty loss, just over $4 million.

And then the small fire that happened shortly thereafter... The fire marshal initially indicated it was electrical, but upon further investigation it was found to be caused by a resident's cigarette butt rolling into a gap at the edge of his balcony.

Through all of this, we have been blessed in multiple ways. Firstly, there have been no injuries as a result of any of these incidences. Also, our insurance company has consistently paid in a timely fashion, and we have been fully made whole. We have also been given the reassurance, that no matter what we face, we will be able to come through it. I won't get all preachy here, but our faith in God has been strengthened through these difficulties.

Some ads were also sent as part of this, including Doux Chene hosting some wild parties (it's hard to imagine even the student-oriented apartments specifically hosting a keg party today). Sadly, they sent the low resolution versions.

As wild partying obviously upset the neighbors, a nearby apartment complex offered a shotgun as among the freebies you could get for signing a lease.

Having been around the apartment complex, the repairs are remarkable, the only difference between some of the apartment buildings is some different spackling on the sides of the buildings, something you wouldn't notice unless you were looking for it. In any case, shortly after the email, management sold out. In April 2015, the apartment complex was rebranded as "Flats on 12", which despite some big promises was the typical games played: change the name, give a repaint, cheap remodel, jack up the rent, while the apartments are the same low-grade pieces they've always been. This also added a lighted sign on the front of the building, changed the entrance to the former restaurant/nightclub area, and replaced the tennis court with a sand volleyball court. It now houses an exercise room and other amenities, but the balcony is still there. Also, I should mention that the address did change at some point. It used to be 1401 FM 2818 but later became 2101 Harvey Mitchell Parkway South.

UPDATE 05-16-2024: Extensively rewrote from last update as seen here.