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Posts Tagged ‘urbanism’

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 […]

What do you do with a problem like I-10?

From a conversation that Cite Editor Raj Mankad conducted with Andrew Albers and Ernesto Alfaro, who co-teach a survey of landscape architecture at the Rice School of Architecture. Mankad: Let’s come back to I-10 and the failure of its… Alfaro: … hubris … Mankad: … its massive expansion. We talked about designers finding opportunities in […]

The Purple City plan for I-45

Check it out. Should a major freeway plan consider the needs of cyclists? Of transit riders? And if we’re going to tear down and reconstruct the entire downtown freeway network of the fourth-largest city in America, shouldn’t the final result have better geometry than the mid-century structures it replaces? The PDFs below contain an analysis […]

Other cities want to be like Houston

For parks and landscaping. The word “infrastructure” typically conjures up images of towering buildings, layered freeway interchanges and heavily monitored drainage ditches; concrete, cars, trucks and impressive feats of engineering that attempt to mold the natural world and resources to fit human needs. Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S., has long been hailed, […]

Hey look, a Regent Square update

Sometimes I forget this is still a thing. In 2007, longtime urbanites said goodbye to the Allen House Apartments, a decades-old complex along Dunlavy just south of Allen Parkway. The multiblock property was a Houston institution, housing hundreds of college students, senior citizens and professionals behind brick walls and wrought-iron balconies that gave it a […]

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 […]

Downtown post office has a buyer

Redevelopment, here we come. Lovett Commercial, a Houston-based developer of neighborhood shopping centers and urban redevelopments, is under contract to buy the downtown post office property and potentially turn it into an urban complex of shops, offices, housing and perhaps a hotel. “It’s extremely rare to find a 16& acre parcel in any major U.S. […]

Downtown post office set to close

The end of an era approaches. Thousands gathered at 401 Franklin Street in downtown Houston to celebrate the opening of a new facility trumpeted as an “ultra-modern” marvel, the hub for the mail that would flow in and out of one of America’s fastest growing cities. Inside the rugged Brutalist building, a lattice-like grid of […]

More I-45 stuff

From The Highwayman: Public meetings meant to debut the massive plan to remake Houston’s downtown freeway system might be coming to an end, but it’s hardly the last chance residents will have to poke and prod the plans. Years of work remain on the $6 billion-plus project that shifts Interstate 45 to the east side […]

Pierce Skypark

How’s this for a big idea? “Imagine something big,” says John Cryer, an architect at Page Southerland Page. “Really big.” He’s talking about the Pierce Elevated Freeway, the raised stretch of I-45 that hooks around the west side of downtown Houston. With an eye toward improving traffic flow, the Texas Department of Transportation is proposing […]

TxDOT reveals its I-45 plan

Wow. Just, wow. A massive reconstruction of Interstate 45 through most of Houston would topple one of downtown’s most frustrating barriers – the Pierce Elevated – and move the freeway east of the central business district. That’s just one of the major changes Texas Department of Transportation officials included in the $6 billion-plus plan to […]

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 […]

Economic segregation in cities

From Wonkblog: Concentrated poverty is one of the biggest problems facing cities today, as more of the urban poor become isolated in neighborhoods where the people around them are poor, too. Growing economic segregation across cities, though, is also shaped by a parallel, even stronger force: concentrated wealth. A new analysis from Richard Florida and […]

Reimagining Richmond Avenue

Remember the Richmond Strip? If you were here in the 90s you probably do. You also probably haven’t been out there since the 90s. Now there’s a plan to restore some of the luster to that part of town. It was along this stretch of Richmond Avenue that revelers rushed out to celebrate after the […]

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 […]

Robinson Warehouse, eight years after

From the Free Press Houston Worst of 2014: WORST WASTE OF SPACE: CORNER OF ALLEN PARKWAY AND MONTROSE In 2006, The Aga Khan Foundation purchased the massive swath of land at the Southeast corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose. This sprawling piece of property is centrally located, is adjacent to some of Houston’s most beautiful […]

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 […]

Houston needs a swimming hole

A fascinating proposal from Gray Matters. The good idea: Houston needs a great big swimming hole. Idea guys: Monte Large and Evan O’Neil, of Houston Needs a Swimming Hole. Where the idea came from: Enduring the Houston heat. Large, an urban real-estate developer, doesn’t have a car and bikes everywhere. One summer day, the friends […]

An outsider’s view of the Ashby Highrise

From Governing.com. 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 […]

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 […]

Studemont Junction

Swamplot has an update and some pictures from the to-be-redeveloped Grocer’s Supply truck lot near Studemont and I-10, basically on the north doorstep of my neighborhood. SIGNS ARE UP at the soon-to-be-former Grocers Supply distribution center across Studemont from Kroger just south of I-10 announcing Studemont Junction, the name meant to bring some . . […]

Walk carefully

Texas cities are not so safe for pedestrians. Yeah, I’m as shocked as you are. Houston pedestrians better cross with care. The city is the seventh most dangerous in the nation for people on foot, according to a new report from the National Complete Streets Coalition at Smart Growth America, a nonprofit that advocates for […]

City drops bid for downtown post office

So much for that. The city of Houston has withdrawn from bidding on the downtown post office, Mayor Annise Parker wrote in a letter to City Council members Tuesday. City officials said they wanted to keep their options open in bidding on the site, saying it could have a number of uses, chief among them […]

Holmes Road

It kind of blows my mind that something like this could be the case in 2014 in Houston. Holmes Road in south Houston, for a stretch, feels less like a city street and more like a weathered country road in Central Texas, even though NRG Stadium and the Texas Medical Center shimmer in the distance. […]

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 […]

Planning to plan

Not really sure what to make of this. “We’ve had a lot of planning in this city and most of us continue to do a great deal of it,” said Central Houston president Bob Eury. “What we haven’t had is the coordination and the ongoing framework for coordination. That’s what is so incredibly important coming […]

The city and the downtown post office

Not sure what all the fuss about this is about. Developers eager to purchase the high-profile U.S. Postal Service site downtown – envisioned in recent years as a park, outdoor amphitheater or a development with housing and entertainment venues – are competing for the property with the city of Houston, which is considering putting its […]

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 […]