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Posts Tagged ‘density’

MUDs and debt

Another story about the least-understood form of debt and taxation in Texas. In Houston’s conservative suburbs, where local governments are loath to raise taxes, the thankless task of hiking revenues has fallen to hundreds of so-called municipal utility districts created for developers to finance water and sewage systems, roads and other amenities. These MUDs, as […]

Who’s willing to pay for more flood mitigation?

I have three things to say about this. Harris county’s four commissioners said Wednesday they could support either a property tax increase or reallocation of funds in the county budget to better fund flood control projects after a series of storms and floods this spring destroyed property and claimed the lives of more than a […]

What makes transit successful?

It’s pretty basic, as this report lays out. A new report released [Tuesday] by TransitCenter, a foundation dedicated to improving urban mobility, finds that developing transit in walkable areas and offering frequent, fast bus and rail service is the key to increasing urban transit ridership. The report, “Who’s on Board 2016: What Today’s Riders Teach […]

Appeals court reverses Ashby damages award

It’s kind of amazing to me that the Ashby Highrise saga is still a newsmaker. In a major ruling that could stymie future legal challenges against developers, a state appellate court has reversed a key portion of the 2014 judgment awarding damages to residents opposed to the controversial Ashby high-rise. Neighbors of the residential tower […]

Reimagining Lower Westheimer

This ought to be interesting. Lower Westheimer is one of Houston’s most well-known streets, but on some fronts its reputation isn’t a positive one. Narrow and bumpy, the street is both a hub of retail and recreation activity and also a harrowing bike or automobile trip from time to time. Everyone has a story or […]

Turner reiterates the need to rethink transportation

New audience, same theme. Houston’s transportation future – and perhaps its economic vitality – relies on more options than new freeway lanes to make room for more cars, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday. “The solution is to increasingly take advantage of other modes of travel,” Turner told business and elected leaders at a lunch event […]

Will the Ashby highrise ever get built?

Who knows? Penelope Loughhead’s house in the leafy neighborhood near Rice University abuts the land where, nearly a decade ago, a proposed high-rise sparked a land-use battle that resonated citywide and throughout the local development community. This week marks two years since a judge ruled the proposed Ashby tower could go forward after a monthlong […]

The Ashby legacy

What hath it wrought? The plot of land where developers promised the so-called Ashby high-rise would be built in an affluent neighborhood still sits empty. Yet the 1.6-acre lot at 1717 Bissonnet, which in 2007 sparked a battle that came to symbolize the impact of a lack of formal zoning in Houston, is still high […]

The reverse Ashby

You have to admit, this is kind of clever. A Houston developer has filed a pre-emptive strike against the owners of a luxury high-rise near the Galleria to head off an “inevitable lawsuit” over its plans to build a tower next door. “We’re a little bit in shock,” said Karen Brown, president of the Cosmopolitan […]

Uptown living

It’s a thing that is happening. Home to the city’s glittering epicenter of retail, with a dramatic skyline dominated by the towering Williams Tower and other office buildings, Uptown Houston is best known for the places where people work and play. Increasingly, it’s a place where people want to live as well. A $1.7 billion […]

The Woodlands versus its neighbors

I have three things to say about this. The Woodlands prides itself on being the best-planned community around, with tree-studded neighborhoods, miles of trails, sprawling parks and a town center with a distinctly urban feel. Across Montgomery County, however, some see The Woodlands as a snooty, well-off enclave that grouses about its tax dollars subsidizing […]

One way to lower speed limits

Purple City makes an interesting observation. One of the quieter actions of the late Parker administration has been to slowly alter speed limits from 35 or 40mph to 30mph. These reductions aren’t based on an engineering study or field measurements, but on a creative interpretation of state law. Texas sets the default urban speed limit […]

2015 Mayoral manifesto: Quality of life and other issues

Preliminaries Transportation Public safety A few quick hits on topics that didn’t fit elsewhere. Making Houston affordable again Remember when Houston was an inexpensive place to live? If you haven’t been here at least a decade – more like two decades, for some neighborhoods – you probably don’t. The transformation of so many parts of […]

From industrial to residential

More changes coming to my neck of the woods. Some of the old warehouses lining a stretch of Sawyer Street across Interstate 10 from the Heights are being primed for new development, as this First Ward area continues to morph from industrial hub to an upscale artsy neighborhood. Houston-based Lovett Commercial is transforming a 1950s […]

Heights-Northside mobility study

Mostly of interest for folks in my area, here’s the city’s report on mobility for neighborhoods in the upper left quadrant of the Inner Loop. Final Report: Heights-Northside Sub-regional Mobility Study The Planning and Development Department, in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Engineering and Houston-Galveston Area Council, is pleased to announce that […]

Is this the end of the two-car household?

From Streetsblog: While predicting continued global growth in car sales as countries like India and China become more affluent, KPMG’s recent white paper about trends affecting the car industry [PDF] sees different forces at work in the United States. In the U.S., says KPMG, car sharing companies like Zipcar, on-demand car services like Uber, and […]

The rent is too damn high

The Houston area isn’t such a cheap place to live any more. A job boom bringing highly paid energy workers to Houston and a pronounced decline in the percentage of people buying houses have combined to drive up the cost of living all across the region. Rents here rose nearly 9 percent in the last […]

More lot protections

Good luck. A stretch of Riverside Terrace, a rebound neighborhood known for its “large lots, mature trees and a view of the downtown skyline,” will be the first residential pocket in Houston where homeowners can use a new city code provision to fend off unwanted townhome, condo or residential tower developments. The City Council [recently] […]

An outsider’s view of the Ashby Highrise

From It contains the Z word, so you might want to shield the eyes of innocent children and Joel Kotkin. Whatever views one may hold about a city without zoning, it’s hard to deny that Houston has done pretty well for itself over the past generation or so. Its population has grown faster than […]

More on San Felipe Highrise Lawsuit II

Here’s the Chron story on the latest adventure in urban planning via the courtroom. The basics are covered here so I’m going to cut to the speculation about effect. Observers have said the Ashby case could have an effect on development moving forward. Now, local land-use experts say the San Felipe project and the neighbors’ […]

How are those new Chapter 42 regs working?

A little too soon to tell. Planning and Development Director Patrick Walsh said the changes were designed to make the city competitive with its suburbs by creating more housing options, holding down prices and spurring redevelopment outside the Loop. “It’s going to be hard to quantify the degree to which these rules are supporting the […]

Astrodome Park: The population isn’t the problem

Greg Wythe addresses one of the central questions about the proposed Astrodome Park in this comment that I thought was worth highlighting on the front page. As it turns out, there are a number of apartments situated to the east and north of the Dome. Checking Census data, the counts on the area “un-highlighted” in […]

White return flight

Some interesting demographic trends going on. Between 2000 and 2010, [Harris] county, like much of the U.S., saw a sharp decline of its white population, losing about 12 percent of Anglos or about 83,000 people. The drop mirrors demographic shifts across the nation as white birthrates have slowed. But in the past three years, Harris […]

It’s not so cheap to live in Houston any more

It’s the downside of a hot job market and an improving national reputation for being a cool place to live. Business and city leaders often tout the Houston region as one of the most affordable markets in the country. But first-time homebuyers like the Schaefers are finding that image increasingly outdated. “We are in a […]

Medical Center mobility

The problems they face today pale in comparison to the problems they will face in the future. Already the world’s largest medical complex, the Texas Medical Center is poised to get much bigger, prompting a raft of ideas ranging from routine to grandiose for expanding traffic and parking capacity. Medical Center officials predict another 28 […]

Everybody wants to help the judge rule on the Ashby lawsuit

I really don’t envy Judge Randy Wilson the task he has. Lawyers aren’t the only ones peppering the judge in the Ashby high-rise case with last-minute paperwork. A former city councilman, a pro-developer interest group and residents who live near the planned tower have all submitted pleas in hope of influencing his decision. One arrived […]

The downtown lifestyle

Demand for residences in downtown Houston is up. For Krishnan Iyer, moving downtown meant a lot of things: Not having to use his car in auto-dependent Houston, being able to walk to work, to restaurants, to the movies. The 34-year-old consultant left The Woodlands two years ago for a one-bedroom apartment in the Post Rice […]

No stopping the San Felipe Skyscraper

Not at this time, anyway. A Harris County district court judge has denied an opposition group’s request to immediately halt construction on a 17-story office tower in a River Oaks area neighborhood. The group, which filed suit in February against the project at 2229 San Felipe being developed by Houston-based Hines, has said it will […]

Ashby II: Highrise Boogaloo

The Ashby Highrise lawsuit may be over, but its legacy lives on. A lawsuit seeking to stop a 17-story office tower under development in a River Oaks-area neighborhood blasts the project as “abnormal and out of place” in a grass-roots effort that observers suggest was emboldened by the recent success of the high-profile fight against […]

Lyft gets set to lift off in Houston

Another option for getting a ride. Prepare to see see pink-mustachioed cars roaming around the city as San Francisco-based car sharing company Lyft launches in Houston on Friday. Lyft is an app-based service that allows anyone to register as a driver and use their own car to make money by giving other people a ride. […]

How to make the warehouse transition something to look forward to

I have four things to say about this. Houston developers plan to build a mixed-use project, including upscale apartments and retail, on a 15-acre tract close to downtown, replacing a large produce warehouse that’s occupied the space for decades. Capcor Partners and Kaplan Management bought the land this week from Grocers Supply, which has been […]

North Line opening today

From the inbox: ALL ABOARD FOR SATURDAY RAIL ROLL-OUT METRO is inviting the public to get on board for the Saturday, Dec. 21 grand opening of the new 5.3-mile North/Red Line! Riding the train will be free all day as part of the grand opening celebration taking place at Moody Park. Festivities at the park include acts like A.B.Quintanilla III y Los Kumbia […]

Ashby trial update

We’re more than two weeks into the Ashby highrise lawsuit trial, and the defense is now presenting its case. Let’s check in on them, shall we? One of the developers hoping to build a high-rise near Rice University made a personal appeal as the defense portion of a lengthy civil trial got underway Wednesday in […]

Ashby Highrise lawsuit gets underway

Better settle in and get comfy, we’re going to be here awhile. The trial that began Tuesday over the Ashby high-rise planned for a neighborhood near Rice University is poised to be a battle of experts. A Harris County jury will hear arguments for the next four weeks in State District Judge Randy Wilson’s court […]