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Everything posted by TheNiche

  1. No, the entity name is Fenway Development Inc., which is linked to Frank Liu. He's already platted out all that land for townhome development just within the past year. You can look at the HCAD plat maps to see how it's configured. EDIT: Here's a story about the cleanup process: http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/06/18/urban-renewal-toxic-brownfields-tough-to-redevelop/
  2. Whatever gets built on the KBR site will generate a lot of sales and rental traffic for the Clinton Dr. submarket that would not have existed otherwise. If Liu develops his land concurrent with his competitor, then he can leach off their marketing efforts and take a substantial cut of the market share. It'd be good strategy, that's for sure.
  3. Yeah, it was a Superfund site that Frank Liu bought and cleaned up for residential development, but his timing was right before the real estate bust, and so that never happened. Not sure if he still owns it, but I think so. We probably would've heard about it transacting, otherwise.
  4. Would you rather that townhomes were built at 18 units/ac. around the light rail stations on $30 PSF land, or that dense midrises at 80+ units/ac. and eventually highrises get built around the light rail stations at $80 PSF? Land speculation has a vital role in the long-term future of our city. Just gotta be patient, let market forces to their work.
  5. The 2003 referendum was not a mandate with an auto-destruct timer, and would allow for its general plan (which was not a specific plan and was subject to sweeping modifications at METRO's whim) to have been built according to the availability of funds. The 2012 referendum places some restrictions on which funds can be used to fulfill the light rail component of the 2003 referendum, while specifically allocating funds to bus services, which lest we forget were also a component of the 2003 referendum. Personally, I think that both referendums were farcical and are examples of a pattern of bad governance.
  6. The Mayor and Mr. Garcia knew what they were doing. They won't care if you tell them so. It was a deal that allowed the county and municipalities to get what they want, while keeping in place METRO's inefficient little transit fiefdom. What you need to be doing is writing requests to the Harris County District Attorney and Texas Office of the Attorney General asking for an opinion on the legal implications of this ethical lapse, and whether a process that thoroughly confused the issue might be worthy of investigation by their offices. Be respectful, and try not to confuse light rail advocacy for what this really is, which is grossly dishonest and unaccountable governance. You should CC: all of the state legislators whose districts were impacted. (BTW, you know that I'm not a big fan of light rail, but I hope that you have an impact anyway. I am convinced that METRO needs to be re-chartered by the legislature in order for it to be effective. And I'm not a fan of how ballot language is done in Texas, lest we forget the 'drainage fee'.)
  7. I've written a number of articles, newsletters, white papers, and data-intensive full-length studies in my day, and ump-teen-thousand posts on HAIF. When I write with the intent of accomplishing something, I write with an audience in mind. In the business realm, they may be executives or analysts. In the political realm, they're typically city councilmembers, a department head, or someone in a similar capacity. If I'm boiling down my points into an executive summary, businesspeople like bullet points with a conclusion that validates their preconceived notions. Politicians like vapid, imprecise, and defensible drivel with a conclusion that validates their preconceived notions. The marketing folks and the media just want sensational bloviation that grabs attention. The Chronicle is in the entertainment business. They want people to read articles, get a rise, comment about them, link to them, and drive traffic to their site. Bill King's op-ed surely was not very informative. I won't dispute that. But then, neither are Crossley's articles when he gets published. Neither of them would be figures in the press if they came off like analytical know-it-all pricks. Having said that, I've met each of them on a variety of occasions. They aren't as oblivious as they come across as in print.
  8. Dude, look in the mirror. Pot meet kettle. Bad and unenlightened articles do not merit similar but opposing responses.
  9. Anticipation of what, now? (Welcome to the wonderful world of business ownership. Since I've made my exit from the East End and the realm of business ownership altogether, I can give in to my cynicism again.)
  10. The "skyrocketing" costs you cite are primarily related to land acquisition, which certainly is important. One of the reasons that Dallas was able to afford so much fixed-guideway transit is that they purchased intact rights of way from railroad companies decades in advance of actually needing to use it. Houston's experience will be more costly because we are trying to develop light rail along the highest-profile and most expensive frontage in the entire city. And yeah, it's going to be expensive, and yeah that would be subject to inflation if they didn't do it now. But they're doing it now, so quit whining. As for materials costs, that's mostly having to do with construction of Asian infrastructure, financed by distorted patterns of international trade and a weak dollar. The most important thing we could do to address light rail and other infrastructure costs (aside from ROW acquisition) would be to get the State Department to hold China's feet to the fire on its WTO agreements, and to kick it out of the WTO if necessary. (Of course...if you think that Obama is totally ineffectual loser and you've got no confidence in his ability to do anything except to further devalue the dollar and cause economic malaise, well then yeah we need to build up our infrastructure as quickly as possible, while there's still some purchasing power left.) Other factors contributing to inflation are more evenly-distributed, meaning that prices increase, but so do sales, sales taxes, and revenue to transit agencies.
  11. It probably will look dated in 10 years. But then, it might look super-cool in 30 or 40 years, right before it gets torn down, presuming that it hasn't already been extensively remodeled into something bland and inoffensive.
  12. That's only because you're used to budgeting for things in terms of light rail, which is stupid expensive, requiring stupid leverage and stupid federal funding. It'll all work out, stupidly...because METRO shall remain intact, and stupid is the only way they know how.
  13. Commuter rail and BRT were not specifically excluded. Hopefully we'll get plenty of BRT.
  14. The Chronicle article states that the property is only under contract, not that it has sold, and that it would likely sell by the end of the year. But stwig is saying that it has "officially sold". Which is it?
  15. The original topic is intriguing, but I think that we rapidly strayed from it. Unrealistic hypotheticals serve no purpose...just like breeding siamese bulldogs. There's no point.
  16. If New York had the geology and bathymetry of any location along the Texas coast, it would not have fared as well as it has. What if I intentionally bred bulldogs (starting five years ago, even though I just now had the idea) that were conjoined twins with two digestive systems even though I had the option of them having had only one digestive system? It'd be ugly, dysfunctional, cruel, and a waste of my time and resources. It'd be just like debating whether a rail-dependent Baytonian in an alternate universe could access groceries and gas in Cypress five days after a hurricane. Utterly senseless.
  17. If we scrunched the 6.2 million people on top of one another into a land area with the density of New York City (27,243 persons/sq.mi.), then that'd take up 227 square miles. This is equivalent to a 15-mile x 15-mile land area. To put that in perspective, imagine if the entire population of the Houston metro area lived in the mainland part of Galveston County that is south of Dickinson Bayou, and everything else (the remaining ten counties) were totally-uninhabited wilderness. If a storm struck that tiny little blip on the map, it'd be incredibly easy to restore accessibility, to distribute emergency supplies, and to restore essential services. After all, there'd be fewer miles of streets to remove debris from (fewer trees to generate debris), fewer and larger utility trunklines feeding the city, and most likely fewer feet of powerline, water line, sewer line, etc., per household. It'd only take a few hundred aid stations to ensure that every single person was within a mile of one, and on account of that there would only be a third or fewer the number of impacted persons as in the case of Sandy, there'd be plenty of supplies to go around whether we're talking water, food, or gasoline. Increased density makes the logistics easier; aggregate size makes it harder, even as growth enables the existence of greater densities.
  18. I wouldn't doubt that there will be a new residential highrise announced soon in the downtown area, and I think I know who's behind it. I'm a little bit surprised that this is a likely site, though. It isn't exactly anchored by anything the least bit attractive. FWIW, I'm not finding any relevant courthouse filings by the prospective seller. Either it's a very recent transaction or it's still under contract while the prospective buyer does their due diligence.
  19. To me personally, it's as unremarkable as nearly any new retail development; but that I'm unexcited by it just means that I'm not the target audience, not that it is necessarily a failure. My assessment of the circumstances are only from a business perspective. Vacancy is a real problem there, and some stores have struggled with sales and even with paying the rent. It does seem that restaurants, bars, and clubs are the most successful constituents of their tenant base, but how many of those can one development have? Was the $188 PSF sale price even above replacement cost? If it takes fresh capital to fix new construction, to me that signals a business failure.
  20. Ouch. That's harsh. Then again, this is a newly-built asset in a prime location that sold for only $188 PSF whereas other downtown buildings have set record high prices. Maybe that reveals what I've been saying all along, that the downtown retail market isn't that strong and that mixed-use projects tend to be functionally obsolescent at completion because office building operators don't know what to do with retail and retail operators don't know what to do with office. More downtown residents can't hurt, but it'd take a huge number to make a difference. Like it or not, I think that substantial quantities of downtown retail organized as single projects just make bad investments.
  21. Plants/water/rocks are my thing, too, but the presence of douchebags constitutes a desecration of the land. The damage inflicted, irreversible, I shall fulfill my landlust elsewhere, beyond that which they have "discovered". I may have to move out of the country, shortly. I'm aware of that. (Not kidding. Actually investigating that possibility.)
  22. Regarding the landlord's inferred race and inferred racism, I think that I've handled myself well and I feel sorry for people that lack empathy for people that mean well but just don't know any better. Regarding the airport, the obvious candidate for a location would be within striking distance of the Bryan/College Station area. If you know Aggies like I know Aggies, then you know that they would welcome the idea. They'd promote the hell out of it. Regarding Austin, that which I knew and once loved is ruined as far as I am concerned, a playground for north Texans and a vast diaspora of douchebaggery. There's nothing left that is special that can be lost, however there is something to be gained for places like Houston and San Antonio. Our douchebags would go and live there, not here. It would be a sort of Zion for them, and good riddance.
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