Best Developer Houston 2000 - Pierce Scarpulla Development Group
In Houston, real estate development is a business dominated by stereotypes: the good ol' boy, the profit-at-all-costs mentality, the belief that any structure more than 25 years old needs to be torn down and replaced with something shiny and new, not to mention exorbitantly expensive. Tamra Pierce and Mimi Scarpulla defy these testosterone-driven traditions at every step. The two women, who met a couple of years ago while working on a project in Midtown, define their company's values -- "creativity, good design, open communication, integrity, beauty and quality" -- in terms that suggest they have one boot planted firmly on the ground and the other propped up on a more ethereal level. They also have the distinction of being inner-city housing developers with no interest in throwing up a pod of town homes on every lot they own. Scarpulla is from Philadelphia, a city that protects its history by selling it intact, and where she helped save two dozen historic buildings now being used as apartments. Here, in Houston's First Ward, for example, Pierce Scarpulla is restoring a half-dozen 80- to 100-year-old bungalows, otherwise known in the business as tear-downs. The best part, though, is that at a time when the city's supply of affordable housing is rapidly disappearing, Pierce Scarpulla plans to rent the houses to low-income families.