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Everything posted by editor

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I didn't see any ridership projections in the PDF. Are they somewhere else?
  6. 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.
  7. It depends on how it's preserved. HAIF's former sister site has documented many dozens of churches, synagogues, and other holy places that have been redeveloped as small condo buildings. They command premium prices because of the high ceilings, good locations, and interesting architecture. Mid-century Catholic churches are especially good in this regard because many of them had bowling alleys in the basement, which from an engineering perspective, convert nicely into underground parking. (Lots of column-free space.)
  8. FWIW, there was a survey team on site today. Surveying. Well, two guys were surveying, and one guy was sitting in the truck.
  9. Architects usually do their best job. But they are almost always constrained by the client's budget. Or worse — they put together a fantastic plan that is within budget, only to find out later that the budget has been cut. I can't count the number of times I've seen some really good first rendering of a project "value engineered" into blandness.
  10. Maybe because they draw in other businesses. If a big chain sees potential in an area, other companies will follow. This isn't just a theory, it's how a lot of retail works. For example, when a new mall scores an Apple Store, other stores will fall all over themselves to get a space there, too. It's why retail real estate developers sometimes have fake almost-Apple Stores drawn into their renderings. It brings in interest from others. Back in my college marketing classes, we learned that one of the diner chains (Denny's, I think) famously did zero location research. It just built next to Holiday Inns whenever it could. It piggybacked off of the hotel's research.
  11. I'd go. My wife and I had one of our first dates at a Rainforest Cafe in Minnesota. Because of that, it has a special place for us, and we go to one in each city we live. I seem to remember that the one on Galveston was extra special because it had a tunnel of love ride.
  12. It's good that you took the time to express your feelings that way. Hopefully your message didn't just go to the corporate marketing department in Boise where it was roundfiled. The Midtown Randall's isn't what it should be. I've shopped there since the day it opened. And I guarantee that nobody has power washed that basement parking area since the day it opened. It seems to be trying to do too much for too many people, and manages to underserve everyone. If it could just be good at the basics, that would be enough. I don't know if it's a reaction to the Whole Foods opening, but it really should ditch the grab-n-go and hot bar and similar things and refocus on the fundamentals. You can't get everything at Whole Foods. Randall's should carry the rest. But then again, hot bar and grab-n-go are the few items with big profit margins for supermarkets these days. I'm not sure what the solution is. Right now, my primary grocery source is HEB delivery. Then for fresh things, Central Market and Phoenicia. Only when I can't get something from those three places, I head down to Randall's. But so far, that's only been twice in four months.
  13. And by "more information." Brookfield means "no more information." There's nothing there about The Highlight. Interesting that Gensler is doing the design. Isn't Gensler in Houston Center? Good dogfooding opportunity.
  14. Just a reminder to all not to copy-and-paste full articles from the Chronicle or elsewhere. This is a copyright issue, and also a violation of the terms you agreed to when you joined HAIF. Summarize and link.
  15. For a few years I worked with a company that does this kind of work. Not exterior brick and such, like this facade, but interiors. A lot of it was for old movie and opera house renovations, and also for movie sets. Occasionally, they'd get a big commission for a mansion. It was a family owned company, and when I was working with them, it had been for something like 130 years.
  16. Saying that the neighborhoods followed the big stations in Europe is really cherry-picking. There are plenty of stations that were intentionally brought directly into the hearts of their cities: Frankfurt, London, Budapest, etc. The secondary stations were built farther out (Gare du Nord in Paris, for example), but not because people didn't want to be near the stations, but because those locations made sense geographically. Trains going north used a station on the north end of town (Gare du Nord, Paris again; King's Cross, London). Trains going west used a station on the west side of town (Paddington, London). It's worth remembering that back then, people didn't think of trains as filthy, noisy things to be avoided. Smoke, soot, and noise were considered good things — signs of progress. That's why skyline paintings and sketches and such from that era always prominently displayed smokestacks and smoke. Those were signs of a bustling, important city. As for the department stores at train stations, I think these are always great. I've been to dozens of them from Japan to Singapore to South Korea to Hong Kong, and elsewhere in Asia. But the reason those things work there is because the train companies own the buildings. A big part of the way mass transit is funded in Asia is through real estate speculation. The train companies put up giant malls and skyscrapers and such around their stations because they own the land. It's the whole "build it and they will come" thing. It works great. It used to work here. Most of America's grand hotels in the west were built by railroad companies to give people reasons to use the railroads. Half of the suburbs of Chicago were founded by railroad companies so that people would commute into the city. But there's been a cultural shift in America, where it's widely seen as a bad thing for railroad companies, especially ones run by governments or quangos, to also put up buildings. It's perfectly OK for a government to engage in real estate speculation by investing its employees' pensions into buildings. But because we have learned not to trust our government with finances, we don't like the investment to be direct. Somehow, abstracting it away to a middle man is palatable. But then, it's not the taxpayers who benefit. Only the government employees, via their pensions.
  17. I really thought the sign read 7. I'll take a picture the next time I walk by. Maybe I'm smoking crack waffles.
  18. This is a new wine bar at 802 Milam. I saw signs for this in August. Now I see construction is happening.
  19. I'm not so sure about a Neighborhood Wal-Mart. A few years ago, Wal-Mart started closing those. It also had a bad habit of getting into "up and coming" neighborhoods by promising not to sell liquor. Then once the doors opened, applying for a liquor license. A CityTarget would be great. Put one in downtown, too. The CityTargets on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis and State Street in Chicago both do a metric buttload of business, are assets to their neighborhoods, and help bring in high-rise residential developments.
  20. It might be easier to just get a job in security consulting. I had a neighbor for a while who was a big-city police chief. When he got bounced, that's what he did.
  21. In Chicago, nobody built arcades, either, until the city gave the developers reasons to do so. Now, if a building has an arcade or a public through-lobby, the developer gets extra height allowance. Obviously, that won't work in Houston, since the developers decide their own heights. But perhaps there is some other carrot that can be offered to make these skyscrapers more neighborhood-friendly.
  22. Nothing says "downtown" like "farm finishes."
  23. That should be a heck of an implosion, should the demolition go that route. KHOU staffers used to use the cafeteria in the basement of the SCI building. They used to call it The Coffin Café. I don't know if that was its official name, or just a nod to its owners.
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