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TheNiche last won the day on November 13 2012

TheNiche had the most liked content!

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  1. Over my head, to be honest. I'm only vaguely aware that Kevin Bacon is a celebrity, and I'm pretty sure that he's an actor, but all I ever can think of when I see his name is bacon. His name is very distracting from anything of relevance that might involve him.
  2. I'm not kidding. That's how it worked out, and none of the three of us are totally irredeemable 'Connection' whores. Small world.
  3. No dude, it's my fault. You and he are both connections of mine, so there are only two degrees of separation.
  4. Having done financial modeling for a living at one point in my life, I'll chime in briefly. A developer's model backs into the highest dollar amount that they're willing to pay for the land. If a developer decides to take a haircut on a development in order to provide a public good, then they won't be able to pay as much for the land. They'd get outbid by a profit-maximizing developer. Also, people that specialize in multifamily typically are hesitant to venture into retail. Its a totally different business model with its own market dynamics and cost structure. If the retail rents that can be achieved are sufficiently high, then the extra effort and uncertainty may be worth it. The problem is that there are only a very few cases in Houston where the risk-adjusted retail rents exceed apartment rents. Which brings me to my next point: It isn't enough to point out that restaurants at the Post development are busy or that Phoenicia is busy. Many other stores are not busy; that consumers return over and over again to busy stores and witness other consumers doing exactly the same thing probably has a lot more to do with those stores' business models and good management than with their physical plant, but that's easy to forget if you don't go to the places that are suffering for business, which you aren't because otherwise they wouldn't be suffering for business...and besides which, don't tend to last very long anyway. So consumers see other people at the places where consumers are at and figure that everywhere should and could be like that. But the fact is that there are only so many retail prospects out there, and so many fewer still that have viable business models or good management. When rents are being negotiated, landlords are price-takers. They can't necessarily tell whether a store will be successful (although a place like Phoenicia is probably an exception, and in cases like that the TENANT typically holds the cards and the rent is much lower), but whether destined for success or not, the prospective tenant can go down the street and find a landlord that will undercut the other one. Its a competitive market. If the rents aren't obviously high enough or the demand isn't obviously there, then nine times out of ten a multifamily operator isn't going to make the effort to take the risk. The multifamily operator has no doubt that there will be demand for their units, with or without a retail component, and they know that even if the market declines prior to delivery, they can give concessions and fill the units quickly to generate cash flow, cover the note, and make the investment marketable to a third-party buyer. If that retail component sits empty for three or four years before finding an awesome tenant, that's a goddamn long time and there's no cash coming in. One last thing. Having retail at the ground floor can be disruptive to parking designs. It depends a lot on the layout of the site and what the architect can do with it, but any option that requires more concrete to yield less net rentable area skews the model against that option. Mixing uses still requires on-site segregation of those uses for resident convenience and security. So yeah, if its a good model then the model won't break. It'll just indicate a lower land price that can be paid as a maximum bid, and the mixed-use guy gets outbid. There are exceptions, but not many in Houston. Niche, out.
  5. [/exile] Structures built from concrete and masonry in accordance with International Building Codes that are enforced in developed countries by governments that aren't rife with corruption are vastly preferable to wood frame structures that are built under the same set of assumptions. (Yet wood frame structures are generally favored in the United States because they are more cost effective, more forgiving, and less labor-intensive in a country where labor is expensive and cumbersome. An American developer intending to turn a profit should only build with concrete when they are deprived of every other option.) So why do you suppose I should have to walk ten stories up to my $10/night penthouse on a windy day, because the hotel staff has decided to disable the elevator in this five-year-old concrete and masonry highrise? And once I get there, why do you suppose that the solid concrete wall behind my bed sounds like rats are chewing through it during the strongest gusts? And would you consider the city that I'm in to be more "world class" because there are three dozen more buildings just like my hotel being hastily constructed by an effective government decree within a mile radius--of which a half dozen or more have turned out to be real estate scams for which construction activity has halted? Maybe that has something to do with why there are so many Bentleys on the road. Would you consider a city like this to be somehow less provincial because the grand new suspension bridge is already rusting through and occasionally drops portions of its decking into the river below? But it looks really really cool, framed by mountains and sea, even if it can't fulfill its intended function of moving trucks safely from the port in a way that bypasses the chaos of the center of the city. As far as I'm concerned, this is all fine and well. I'm happy to live in a provincial city because I think that life is better here, simpler, easier to enjoy. There are bigger cities that are more developed. Some of them even bother to treat their wastewater; but mostly, they're just as provincial with the same attitudes having been scaled-up in terms of pathological groupthink, hassle, pollution, and expense. The same sort of comparisons could probably be made on some level between Houston and New York, Manchester or London. To compare Houston and Istanbul, you have to compare two cities for 'world classiness' that not only exist at a different scale, but with governments, cultures, and economic systems that are totally alien between the one and the other. It is a totally asinine and superficial effort. Please stop. [exile]
  6. I live nowhere and I live everywhere. I've wandered off the reservation and onto another planet that bares no resemblance to your own. It's great.
  7. I still read some HAIF threads and browse Swamplot, but I'm finding the issues that I once expounded on to be distant and petty. (Who really gives a crap about METRO or a new highrise? It just seems like people that lead fairly boring lives have a need to invent drama for themselves, a reason to squabble, a reason to complain, a reason to feel self-important. (It's not lost on me that my own comment, which points that out, is cut from the same cloth.) Every now and then, I'll spot some otherwise reasonable person saying something that's really quite dumb. Where I'd have pounced on it before, now I feel like I should let it be and speak for itself, as a monument to its own nature. Its sort of like a park with statues of former communist leaders that is maintained with revenues from outdoor advertising for Axe body spray. Never mind the Pizza Hut delivery service bringing the teen skateboarders in the park their lunch, and never mind the local girl in the U.S. Army T-shirt and a miniskirt riding sideways on the back of that motorbike ahead of you. ...oh, well I suppose that it's okay to mind her just enough not to hit a pedestrian or the random sweater-wearing chihuahua in the street.
  8. All reason is aesthetic when you get right down to it. And there is your answer.
  9. This is pretty much accurate. The search for meaning is a collaborative effort (and always petty). It is the development of language that allows one to infer and carefully sculpt a formal system of logic, and then also for zany barely-plausible abstractions. It doesn't have to be that way. However, the most extreme documented instances of neglected children seem to indicate to me that without an opportunity to develop that system of language and logic among humans; a child might go through the same process among a pack of dogs and howl at the moon, but does not thereby seem well-equipped to contemplate notions of philosophy. It is easy, then, to say that a person enabled by language/logic to step outside their own culture and deconstruct its absurd barely-plausible abstractions (religion, political schemes, the 'American Dream', things that are supposed to make me happy). But can you ever totally leave the reservation behind? We are social animals, too easily programmed, difficult to re-write, impossible to reformat. Do giants have navels? Perhaps, as with most human curvature, even the slightest distortion from the norm makes the whole ugly. And so it is best to look into the giant's navel and marvel at it. Even if that is all that can be seen--and especially if that is all that there is to see.
  10. Why should we let that stop us? Mine is chiefly a crisis of internal coherency. Drawing others in only exploits a kind of chaotic order, a formal logic with which to communicate universal senselessness.
  11. If ever my views should fall within the spectrum of common sense, then they would not be worth expressing. In this matter,my conflicting sense of humanism and nihilism are in agreement. The climate is changing due to humanity's economic development. Productive capacity (and the political stability afforded by globalism) will prepare humans to adapt successfully. But then the nihilist in me says that they'll adapt or die, just like any species, that it really doesn't matter which, and that preserving the tradition of the living is absurd because there is also a tradition of dying, and of extinction. What happens happens.
  12. Nah, I don't really care about climate change. Warmer weather typically aids in building up species diversity, but it's the pattern of rainfall that is the real kicker. Some regions win and some regions lose. Whatever the anthropogenic contribution to climate change, the climate has been changing in absolute terms since the beginning of geologic history. Sometimes it is warmer, sometimes it is cooler, sometimes Texas is under water. That is our geologic heritage, which begat our economic heritage and the climate change that you seem to abhor. Concern over it just seems so senseless in the scope of geologic time. Everything is so new; what is worth preserving? Perhaps our civic architects should preserve construction sites in mid-course if every event and activity is so precious, if we are so self-important.
  13. Is it that you are less adaptable, or perhaps society has adapted to your ilk? I was born at the brink of the "Stalinization" of Texas. I think that the manifest insanity of the oil boom and the looming reality of an oil bust began to set in by about 1981 or 1982. You can hear it in ZZ Top records if you listen to them in a chronological sequence. And then, with the S&L bust, the hard money was gone and the soft money--the "American Dream" money--took hold. The people shall never again be free, not from the banks, and not from themselves. It is their desires, their greed, and a mechanism that fulfills it; that is what makes the American form of communism feasible is the peoples' implicit consent. We fought a revolution and then a civil war over something more straightforward and less ugly; but we will not do so again over what we have become. We don't even know what we are. One of the lessons that has never been forgotten by the third world, which could never be extinguished by traditional communism, is that children are a more reliable form of social security than is any government. They will tend to one's social needs, but only if they are also responsible for one's fiscal needs. The latter begets an interest in the former. Other lessons, more pertinent to an architecture forum, are that motorcycles (not bicycles) are a worthwhile solution to America's infrastructure constraints, that entire bathrooms can exist within shower enclosures, and that the only built-in fixture needed within a kitchen is a sink. No, I don't see it that way, not unless Al Qaeda and Somali pirates are construed to be our Visigoths, our Huns, or our Vandals. Rome had something worth fearing, and it did not fear them enough; Americans have very little worth fearing, yet we are excessively fearful. The biggest threat on our radar would be a naval conflict with China in the South China Sea, which would draw in the Philippines (and its ally, America), Vietnam (and its investment partner, India), and then possibly Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan. You infer a prelude to a 21st-century dark age: that's how we get there. But I don't see it happening. No, no, no. Those things are readily available. I've never lived so well on some days (or so poorly on other days) for so little money. Docility is not material in nature. One can be poor and docile as easily as one might be a millionaire and also be docile. One can be docile in the third world, too. It is the comfort of one's own kind, the safety that is implied by that circumstance. It is a false sense of security, but perception is reality enough for most people. And then it is a willingness to invest in a community of like individuals, of being manipulated into an insidious entrapment scenario. That is what it means to be docile. If you work hard and try not to break the law, you'll be forever on the cusp of being well-off enough; and never beyond that threshold, because success in that regard would only reset the location of that threshold.
  14. I know. I'll come back eventually, but only when I am content to be docile. America is a good place to be docile. It'll be a while, I think.
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