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editor

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Everything posted by editor

  1. I don't think the fact that one development in a hundred worked out well is an indication of that at all.
  2. Yes, and no. Chicago has an official definition of "downtown" when it comes to construction, by virtue of having very strong zoning laws. All of those are within the boundaries of "downtown" as redefined by city ordinance in 2020, or 2019. I forget which. All but one of those has gone through the Plan Commission, which is the last major bureaucratic hurdle to construction. The 73-story building is already under construction. The only thing left is a city council vote, though that has already come and gone for some of them. The city council vote is a rubber-stamp process. In the 19 years I've been following Chicago skyscraper construction, the council has only rejected one skyscraper. It was such an anomaly that it made headlines. In summary, yes, these are "downtown" by both legal and cultural definitions. And all but one has been approved by the parties that matter. And it's worth reiterating that all of that activity is just in the last three months.
  3. It's about the same as L.A., when adjusted for size. It's slower than Chicago, again when adjusted for size. Chicago has been issuing permits for three to five new buildings in the 25 to 115-story range each month of the pandemic. I read the Chicago permits each month, and this is the first month in a very very long time when there hasn't been a filing for a new skyscraper. If you'd like to keep up on the Chicago action, this is a good place to start. Here's what's been moving through the permit process since October: 28 story residential 73-story residential 38-story residential 30-story residential 45- and 38-story residential 21-story residential 26-story office Most of the development in Chicago is residential these days because the city has spent the last decade-and-a-half luring corporate headquarters to town. A bunch of big-name companies that left the city in the 60's through 80's have moved back, (McDonald's, Caterpillar, Walgreens, Hormel) and it's also bringing in corporate headquarters from other cities (Boeing from Seattle). The influx of corporate headquarters spans multiple mayoral administrations. It's the result of efforts by quangos with 30-year plans.
  4. As a point of historical/architectural interest: The Starbucks Reserve in that photo used to be the Crate and Barrel flagship store. You can still see how the form was a crate shape and a barrel shape, though the Starbucks renovation smoothed out a lot of that. I know the guy who designed it, and even with all the giant fancy glass towers he's done all over the world, it's still one of his favorite buildings. The architecture firm is across the street, and he deliberately got a particular office so that he can look down on it while he's working. Here's what it looked like before Starbucks. From HAIF's sister site.
  5. When I returned to Houston, I was shocked how much Montrose changed. it was Houston's Greenwich Village. Of course, the Village is mostly corporate-ized now. Montrose isn't that bad yet, but it's certainly headed in that direction. Next stop: Disneyfication. As much as I love Katz's Deli, I think that was what started it all. It was a safe zone destination that drew in suburban grit tourists to watch "the other side" through their SUV windows without having to actually interact with anyone who was not exactly like them. I was especially surprised to see that big office building. Unless you were an artist's agent or an architect, Montrose people didn't "office." They created. They taught. They learned. They lived. EaDo (Do I really have to call it that?) seems to be picking up a good bit of the entrepreneurial spirit that can no longer afford Montrose. But it's not the same. Montrose was prog rock. EaDo is auto-tune.
  6. Thanks for that. I skimmed through the latest report. Lots of construction companies. Lots of real estate interests. Lots of motel companies. Lots of professional sportsball employees. A bunch of people hiding behind P.A.C.'s. Again, it was just a quick skim, but I did see these two donations from legacy transportation providers: Team Autoplex - $1,000 Linda Butler, of Grand Rapids, Michigan - an employee of General Motors - $2,000
  7. I think they're similar. Both are intended to deal with exceptional rainfall events. Both are designed to handle a metric assload of water. Both shove that water underground until it can be dealt with in a manner better than letting it flood people's homes. As you pointed out earlier, Deep Tunnel is intended to handle both rainwater and sewage, but that is necessary because many municipalities in that area have combined systems. Houston is fortunate to have two different systems, so it doesn't belch turds into Galveston Bay like Milwaukee does to Lake Michigan when it rains hard.
  8. If I knew the city/county's web sites better, I'd look up the list of his campaign donors and see how many are auto dealers and concrete companies.
  9. I agree. I'm downtown, but I'd take a train to an easily accessible coffee shop, if it was good. As for breakfast, you're spot on there. Pre-pandemic, lots of chain restaurants expanded into breakfast (Wendy's, Taco Bell, etc...) because they realized that they were paying rent on property 24 hours a day, but they were only bringing in money 16 hours a day. Houston is one of those cities with too many restaurants that are open short hours. Financially, if you're paying $x for a space, you should keep it open as many hours as you can to recoup the cost of $x. Chick-fil-a gets it, and that's why its tunnel location is open until 5pm. I've been there at 4:30, and there's still a line because everything else closed hours before. And in terms of neighborhood commitment, I regularly walk past a bunch of other coffee places in order to patronize to Day 6 (and to a lesser extent Minuti) because it's open long hours and every day, which means it cares about the neighborhood and isn't just there to extract dollars.
  10. I've walked around the exterior of this building a couple of times in the last few days, and it looks like a nice place. The landscaping looks really promising, and it's nice that there's lot of brick in the pathways instead of concrete. The central restaurant space is... interesting. I almost wish there wouldn't be one there, and it could be lit up like an art installation. But if a restaurant it brings people downtown, I'm for it.
  11. It's a shame that the Metro bus barn is going to be right next to that walking trail. When I lived at Dakota Lofts, Metro would let those buses idle all day long and the fumes blowing in the windows was awful sometimes. At least we could close the windows. Walkers will get gassed.
  12. I read about this in the newspaper last week. Chicago has a similar system. Officially, it's called Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, but everyone just calls it "Deep Tunnel." It's been ongoing for 45 years, and three billion dollars. The newspaper article made it seem like Houston's version would be faster and cheaper, but I'll believe that when it's done. And tested by a named storm.
  13. Can't say whether that's the case with this project, but I did see that happen with a building in Seattle. Then again, shipping facade panels from China to Seattle is significantly cheaper than sending them all the way to Houston.
  14. My junk mail defines "Soma" as a bra company for ladies who have a balcony you could do Shakespeare from. Also, from the Chronicle article: SoDo on Main is close to Toyota Center (no it's not), GreenStreet (OK), the George R. Brown Convention Center (nope) and Discovery Green park (not really)
  15. editor

    Car Talk

    Easy solution: Make a $250 bounty available to inspection stations that catch people with vehicles modified to roll coal. The inspection station gets $250. The state pays for it by sending a ticket to the owner for $300. I'm not an expert, but it's my understanding that the process of removing and re-installing the equipment to roll coal isn't worth the effort each year.
  16. Simple. It's a lack of staff. Newspapers used to have several layers of fact checking, grammar checking, etc. Fact checkers were the first people out the door when things got bad. Also, now reporters are expected to write multiple stories each day. When I started in journalism, newspaper reporters were expected to file a story every day or two or three. Some of the web sites that people now mistake for journalism (Buzzfeed, Vice, etc...) expect their "reporters" to write a dozen or more in a day. How is that a formula for quality?
  17. Kinda like Soviet starkness meets 90's yuppy. Dark green faux marble and gold accents. Trés The Only Way is Essex.
  18. Mercer Island (Seattle) beat Tulsa by decades. Mercer Island:https://maps.apple.com/?address=I-90 W, Mercer Island, WA 98040, United States&ll=47.585693,-122.227272&q=Dropped Pin&_ext=EiYpTsR+e2rKR0AxMI76Q/eOXsA5zJmk15DLR0BBPFTzDR2OXsBQBA%3D%3D Lots of these in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. In some places, they're required because of endangered species laws.
  19. I've noticed a lot of development in that area between Buffalo Bayou and I-10. Doesn't that seem like a bad idea since there's a project to bung a canal through the neighborhood? Or are these people trying to get in on the land rush that's expected to follow?
  20. Thanks, that's a start. But I'm still not able to find any information based on the address. Maybe they're going to use the San Jacinto side for the address. I'll have to write down the number on the sign. Does Houston have a public GIS site? Lots of cities added them around 2010, but I've noticed some have put them behind paywalls recently.
  21. That's a cookie-cutter design they use in Chicago to replace what are called "two-flats" and bungalows. People hate them because they pop up in the middle of nice, older neighborhoods and look like something from another planet. They look fine if there's a whole block of them, but mixed with other housing stock, they're very jarring.
  22. The hospitality city. I know it's an awkward phrase, but it really is true in my experience. I've lived in dozens of cities all over the country, and Houston is one of only two cities where I've kept friendships. Some cities like to play like they're friendly, but they're not. Two examples: Seattle is all happy and granola and "inclusive" on the surface. But when people find out you're not from there, the way they treat you changes. Instantly. It's called the "Seattle freeze," and is something I read about before I moved there. It didn't seem possible, but it's true. You would think that a city with so many foreign workers would be more welcoming of outsiders, but it's not. Hang around with a bunch of people after work and everything is great. Mention that you're from somewhere else, and suddenly they stop inviting you. In addition to happening to me and my wife, and enough people for it to appear in that book, it happened to a bunch of fellow outlanders that I asked about it. Some didn't even realize it was happening. Seattle is fake. People in Las Vegas are very friendly. As long as you like their politics, or gambling, or drinking, or are a member of their church or temple. But there's not a lot of depth there. People don't get to know one another because it's a city of transients. It's surrounded by military bases, and the heart of it is casinos that only exist to make a buck. People come and go. There were 15 houses on my block, and half changed occupants each year. The majority of people you run into during the day are people who dropped out of high school, or never even thought about college, because — in their minds — why would they get an education when they can make $20/hour dealing cards? Living the high life means you have six giant TVs in your man cave so you can watch a dozen sportsball games at the same time while you gamble online. Here's an example of how poorly educated people are there: I had a pair of 30-something tradesmen in my home doing work. They needed to get behind my big easel to do some work. One asked the other to ask me if it's OK to move the easel. The other didn't know the word "easel." Had never heard of such a thing, and didn't know what it was used for. The first guy, exasperated, finally said, "ART STAND!" to make him understand what it was. I guess it's not surprising that the nearest art museums five hours away in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Meanwhile, in Houston, both times I've lived here people have gone out of their way to be nice to me. I had three different people who don't even know each other leave welcome baskets for me when I moved back. Both times I've lived here, people with families have asked me and my wife to join them for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners because they know we don't have anyone. When my wife posted on social media that she was moving back to Houston, people came out of the woodwork to welcome her back, and if it wasn't for 'rona, she would probably be out every night with friends old and new. Even the homeless people around my building are nice to me. And not just "gimme a dollar" nice. They recognize me and know I'm not going to give them anything, and they still say hi. I want to say "Houston is the friendly city," but it's more than that. It's welcoming in a way that other cities aren't. It's nice when it doesn't need to be. Sure, it still has all of the problems of any big city. But it also has hospitality. Something few of the cities in which I've lived also have.
  23. The last time I lived in Houston, you couldn't just look up city information online. Naturally, that's changed now. How does one find out about a project in the city of Houston? Every time I move, all of the department names and structures change, so I have to go through this every few years. Starting small — The retail space in The Star (111 Rusk). There's been a red-and-white sign in the window for months now with some kind of cryptic serial number on it, instead of any actual information that might be useful to the public. Is there a city web page where I can plug in that number and find out what's planned? I suspect something is going to happen soon, because the well-dressed people who are leasing that space have been around the building a few times in the last week or so.
  24. I didn't see any ridership projections in the PDF. Are they somewhere else?
  25. If you use old-school Unix machine, there is probably a program built-in called "fortune." It delivers one-liners: If you're on a modern Unix machine (macOS, et.al.), it's not installed by default, but can be installed using your package manager of choice. If you have homebrew, use brew install fortune --verbose It's probably also available for Linux machines.
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