Living at the Cheval Apartments in Houston is akin to living at the Ritz-Carlton. At least, that's the type of ambiance A.G. Spanos, the property's Stockton, Calif.-based builder and developer, was aiming for.

The Cheval does offer its residents a taste of opulent, extravagant living. The 387-unit, four-level project features a multi-tiered swimming pool, sunning benches, a sandy beach-like area near the pool, a beach volleyball court, and massage and sauna rooms. Lush terraced plantings surround the complex, giving it a resort-style look and feel.

“[The Cheval] is a rental apartment, but it's like you're living in a ritzy hotel,” says Charlie Raffo, A.G. Spanos' executive vice president. Another added bonus: Residents get free coffee from a Starbucks vending machine. Now that's luxury living.

Couples and single professionals are the property's primary target. One-and two-bedroom floor plans ranging in size from 617 square feet to 1,198 square feet are available, and the property has its own parking garage.

Raffo, who served as project leader for The Cheval, envisioned the property to be cutting-edge, positioning it as a leader in the rental apartment arena. And indeed, the property seems to stretch the expectations for customary amenities. So far, The Cheval is the first of its kind for A.G. Spanos, but Raffo says more high-end amenity properties similar to The Cheval are on their way in major metro cities including Denver, Dallas, and Atlanta.

Standard monthly rents go from $995 to $1,600. The project was built on a 10.2-acre infill site that once housed an old computer building. Density is 38 units per acre.

Maitland, Fla.-based architectural firm Charlan-Brock & Associates designed the Mediterranean-themed apartment. The Cheval, managed by A.G. Spanos, opened in July 2005 and is 90 percent occupied.

PALATIAL LIVING: The Cheval's developer, A.G. Spanos, looked to the Ritz-Carlton for inspiration.
PALATIAL LIVING: The Cheval's developer, A.G. Spanos, looked to the Ritz-Carlton for inspiration.