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Posts Tagged ‘urbanism’

Complete Streets coming

This is good to see. Houston, long ruled by the automobile, will give more consideration to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in designing its streets and neighborhoods. Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday said she is drafting, with public works and planning officials, an executive order stating that the city will adhere to “complete streets” […]

On affordable housing in Houston

Interesting. More Houstonians are spending a higher percentage of their incomes on housing, a new study from Rice University’s Shell Center for Sustainability shows. The report’s key finding revealed that half of Houston’s City Council districts do not meet the conventional definition of affordable, which stipulates that the average household not spend more than 30 […]

Hiram Clarke TIRZ

I think this will be a good thing. The Houston City Council and the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court approved a plan this month to boost development in Houston’s southwest corner with the creation of a tax increment reinvestment zone. Under a tax increment reinvestment zone, property taxes generated within the zone’s boundaries are frozen […]

Texas cities embracing bicycles

It’s a good thing. In Fort Worth, the mayor hosts occasional bicycle rides called “Rolling Town Halls.” The Dallas City Council could may soon require new businesses to set aside space for bicycle parking. Over in El Paso, officials are developing plans for a bike-share system, which is expected to be the fifth such program […]

The townhomes are indeed coming

I have three things to say about this Lisa Gray column. “So the bad stuff we’re going to see today,” I asked, “it’ll be a cautionary tale for the suburbs?” I was driving west from downtown on what I thought of, privately, as the Terror o’ Townhouses Tour, a sort of scared-straight exhibit for suburbanites […]

Five years of Discovery Green

Five great years for a great park and an awesome city amenity. Five years after its opening, more than 1 million people annually come to stretch out on the grassy slope to take in live music and movies with the skyline as a backdrop, to play with Frisbees and soccer balls, to splash in the […]

The Washington Avenue parking benefit district is now operational

From CultureMap: It took a while, but nearly five months after Houston City Council approved the first citywide Parking Benefit District for the Washington Avenue corridor, the meters started charging at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. The City of Houston’s Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department hopes to solve a handful of issues with the new parking system, including […]

Revamped Chapter 42 ordinance finally passes

Strangely enough, in the end it was not very contentious. Houston City Council on Wednesday voted 14-3 to allow greater single-family home density outside Loop 610, while also strengthening the proposal’s already robust protections for neighborhoods concerned about unwelcome development. Council voted to drop the threshold of support needed to impose a minimum lot size […]

Today is Chapter 42 day

Actually, today is almost certainly the day that the Chapter 42 revisions get tagged by multiple members of Council, thus pushing it back for a week. Nonetheless, this is the beginning of the end of a long, long journey. Here’s another story about what that will mean. The Fourth Ward would not look quite the […]

It’s Chapter 42 week

We won’t know for years what the upcoming revisions to Chapter 42, the development and density codes in Houston, will mean to the city and its development and population patterns. There’s certainly a lot of hope that the changes will be positive. Southwest Houston, with its glut of apartments and condominiums, is three times denser […]

Why we need flexibility in our parking regulations

Here’s the story of Coltivare. As many of you know, we are in the process of opening Coltivare, our interpretation of an Italian-inspired, American, neighborhood restaurant, at the corner of White Oak and Arlington Streets. Undoubtedly, one of the most unique aspects to Coltivare, is the potential to have a 3,000 square foot, fully-functioning vegetable […]

Another reason why bike parking matters

This comment of the day on Swamplot points out a salient fact about bike parking. In all honesty, I only ride my bike for fun with the family on the weekends. However, after a couple of very frustrating attempts to park around White Oak to go out to dinner, I recently rode my bike down […]

One size does not fit all, parking regulations department

This makes a lot of sense to me. A proposed rewrite of Houston’s off-street parking rules could allow some areas to alter the new requirements or ditch them altogether, part of what Mayor Annise Parker said is an effort to allow tailored solutions in this “city of neighborhoods.” City planners say the off-street parking ordinance, […]

In the HAUS

Meet Houston’s first housing co-op. Technically, this is HAUS, the Houston Access to Urban Sustainability Project, a housing co-op for those willing to work for their cheap rent and board by making meals, cleaning toilets and recycling – lots of recycling. The three founders, who had lived in or visited co-ops in other cities, began […]

City proposes bike parking alternatives

Nice. Bicycle advocates are cheering a city proposal that would give businesses an incentive to offer bike parking and would require some properties to provide it for the first time, saying the ideas mark a cultural shift in Houston. “This is a first for Houston and a sign of how our city is evolving,” Mayor […]

The off-street parking debate

I believe the new offstreet parking requirements that have been proposed and are being debated are at least as big a deal as the Chapter 42 revisions. We really need to get this right. Under the new rules, some eateries – dessert shops, carryout restaurants – would need less parking, but requirements on most restaurants […]

Ready or not, here comes Chapter 42

Changes are coming to Chapter 42, the section of Houston’s ordinances that deal with density and development, and to Chapter 26, the section on off-street parking for bars and restaurants and what have you. The revisions would allow neighborhoods to create special parking areas tailored to their needs, reduce parking requirements for historic buildings, allow […]

Alexan Heights on Yale

If you live in my neck of the woods you’re probably interested in the news (via Swamplot) of the new apartment complex being planned for the empty lot on Yale between 6th and 7th. The RUDH January newsletter has details. Trammel Crow Residential is planning its first project in the Heights, at the corner of […]

Houston’s BikeScore

Some parts of Houston are very bike friendly. Others, not so much. Houston ranks in the middle of the road when it comes to overall bike friendliness, but some local neighborhoods are cycling nirvanas, according to BikeScore.com. The company, which uses census and area commercial information to assess how bike-able communities are, recently updated its […]

Chapter 42 is back

This is going to be fun. Sprawling, boomtown Houston may be in for another battle over land use and development, this time driven by the most significant changes proposed to the city’s building rules in 13 years. The rewrite would further a push for density in single-family development, begun inside Loop 610 when the rules […]

Council approves Washington Avenue parking benefit district

We’ll see how this works. The Houston City Council on Wednesday formed a special parking district along Washington Avenue, intended to ease the woes associated with the bustling corridor’s mix of bars, restaurants and residential streets. The plan will add parking meters on about 350 spaces along Washington, and will make it easier for residents […]

On the Parking Benefit District

A proposed ordinance to create a parking benefit district in the Washington Avenue corridor was on Council’s agenda this week, but it was tagged and will wait a week while everyone gets up to speed on it. District C Council member Ellen Cohen says the city has been working with business owners to come up […]

HouZE

This is very cool. Independence Heights earned a place in history as Texas’ first African-American city, settled in 1908 and sovereign until it was swallowed by the city of Houston 21 years later. But tomorrow’s residents may be pioneers of another sort, as Mayor Annise Parker and a developer announced plans for as many as […]

Why does Midtown need a big box store?

This story is about a forthcoming six-acre “superblock” being developed in Midtown, and about Midtown’s rise as a successful residential/entertainment area. What caught my eye was this bit at the end: Still, Midtown has yet to see any significant new retail, retail broker Ed Page said, referring to big-box stores like Target, TJ Maxx and […]

That big East End KBR site has been sold

There’s one less huge tract of land on the market these days. A Buffalo Bayou-front parcel spanning 136 acres just east of downtown has found a buyer. The mostly vacant tract is under contract and expected to close by the end of the year, said Davis Adams of HFF, the commercial real estate firm listing […]

The Heights Wal-Mart is now open

On the plus side, the world did not come to an end. On the minus side, it’s still a lousy location for a Wal-Mart and a giant missed opportunity for better, more urban-oriented development. For nearly 2½ years, Heights-area residents fought against one of the largest corporations in the world, employing yard signs, meeting with […]

Why not a university?

Tory Gattis has an interesting suggestion for that 136 acre tract of land east of downtown. This parcel of land could be the last opportunity for Houston to add a major college campus to the city.  We should consider something similar to what NYC just did with Roosevelt Island, where after a long evaluation process […]

Techies and the city

The reason why tech companies are eschewing suburban campuses for urban office locations. For as long as many of us can remember, high-tech industries have flourished in the suburban office parks that are so ubiquitous in Silicon Valley, North Carolina’s Research Triangle and other “nerdistans.” But in recent years, high-tech has been taking a decidedly […]

A streetcar for the East End?

It could happen. As the once solidly industrial East End transforms with a 4-month-old soccer stadium, a light rail line under construction and the imminent sale of a 136-acre plot that could signal coming lofts and boutiques, boosters are studying the possibility of reviving the streetcar in Houston after an absence of more than 70 […]

Ashby everywhere

Nancy Sarnoff notes a trend. Homeowners in the Memorial area held a meeting last month in the lobby of a nearby medical office building to discuss what to do about a large apartment complex being planned in their neighborhood. They said the project – and other new developments in the area – would lead to […]

What would you do with 136 acres near downtown?

Something urban, mixed-use, and transit-oriented, one hopes. A rare opportunity lies in 136 acres just east of downtown Houston. The Buffalo Bayou-front parcel, a longtime industrial and office complex, went on the market earlier this summer – a move bayou enthusiasts, East End residents and real estate developers had been anticipating for years. Some of […]

More on carless commuting in Houston

Greg adds on to my recent post about getting to work in Houston if you didn’t have a car. In the comments of this Kuff post, Robert Nagle actually beats me to the punch in answering the central question. Yes, you can live quite comfortably in Houston without a car. As long as you base […]

Discussing the Z word

I have three things to say about this. The go-ahead for the Ashby high rise has left me feeling really depressed. If affluent residents with all their political and social connections can’t keep a 21-story skyscraper out of their bucolic neighborhood, what hope is there for the rest of us? When Mayor “I’m against the […]

Sugar Land has its own Ashby

The unhappy dissenters part of it, anyway. The planned development of the city’s last piece of open land would turn the abandoned Imperial Sugar site – the very genesis of the city – into an $800 million urban space with museums, parks, luxury apartments, restaurants and a theater. “It represents our evolution,” said Doug Adolph, […]