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Posts posted by TheNiche

  1. Hopefully, if he does still own it, it will give a slight confidence boost for the KBR owners, knowing there is a very good possibility they'll have some "good" (wealthy) neighbors. I wonder if this would alter Liu's plans at all, or maybe he already knew of KBR's potential and that's why he bought his land in the first place.

    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.

  2. Another interesting aspect of this site is the big piece of land just to the north (to the right in photo below) of this site. Anyone know what's up with that piece of land?

    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.

    • Like 2
  3. It will just cause land speculation. Land will be purchased and held on to for long periods of time. I doubt that we would see any development anytime soon. Land prices will just be driven up.

    Like was mentioned look at midtown its perfect example. Lots of developments could have taken off in the area if not for land speculation driving up the prices of property and property owners holding on to land to attempt to make a higher profit.

    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.

  4. I think an important point here is that in 2003 a vote FOR the Metro referendum was in favor of a massive expansion program. In 2012 a vote FOR the METRO referendum was to eliminate funding for that program. That's nothing less than absurd.

    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.

  5. 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'.)

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  6. At least I attempt to back up my claims with actual numbers and statsitics. Don't let you personal disagreements with me distort things. I know significantly more about transit than Bill King, that much is obvious.

    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.

  7. Wow what an uninformed article, lol.

    Glad he's happy that Houston's transit will not improve. He must have had a bad experience with rail when he was younger. :blink:

    That's just blind hatred, with no regard for rational thinking at all.

    Dude, look in the mirror. Pot meet kettle. Bad and unenlightened articles do not merit similar but opposing responses.

  8. At the same time, whether it is developed next year or next decade, won't it bring more investment to the east side of town in anticipation?

    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.)

  9. Ah yes, let's wait twenty years and have prices for rail skyrocket even more and then complain about the prices when the time comes. If they don't build the rail now, its not going to happen (changing from brt to rail).

    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.

  10. I'm certain it reduces costs but college football stadiums are built to last 50 plus years and I worry if a super modern look will be outdated in 10 years, but I'll withhold judgement until a more detailed rendering is available.

    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.

  11. I hope so too, but METRO is only getting $400 million additional funds over the next eleven years.

    That's not even close to an amount of money needed for significant improvements in bus, BRT, or rail.

    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.

  12. Interesting hypotheticals all around. Your scenario sounds plausibly better than reality has been from a recovery standpoint, presuming you didn't have Bolivar level damage on a significant portion of the concentrated area.

    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.

    But suppose you keep everyone in the Houston metro area where they are now, but instead of an expanded freeway system, they ride hypothetical trains that take them to where they work and our roads look about like they did in 1985. I think that is a more reasonable analog to what Staten Island and Long Island are dealing with currently. Would people in Baytown be able to get gas and groceries in Cypress after five days? Maybe, but there would be fewer gas stations once they got there.

    NY metro is so huge, they have the worst of all of these scenarios when it goes bad. They have heavily populated suburbs that depend on trains and a maxed out freeway system.

    Interesting logistics exercise.

    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.

  13. True, my original idea was aimed more at the question of, what would recovery from a hurricane look like in a denser version of Houston where more people could not get around to obtain the means of recovery for themselves. I'm thinking it would be worse.

    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.

  14. Completely serious. I believe the land has already changed hands.

    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.

    • Like 1
  15. Yeah, it's a surprisingly popular and active place for the miserable failure it has been pronounced to be. I hold out high hopes the new ownership will make it even better and more successful.

    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.

  16. Jones Lang Lasalle is calling the HP office space Class B, wow.


    The directory shows only the large spaces filled, while the second floor is a ghost town.

    http://houstonpavili...o gift card.pdf

    Armchair economists, kick back your lazy boy:

    1) When/will HP be 100% leased?

    2) What will it take to get it 100% leased? Maybe a condo/office mixed used tower across the street on Caroline and maybe another apartment tower on Caroline and Polk?

    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.

  17. 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.)

  18. I'm sorry, The Niche, when you're taking it on the chin in that other thread for coming to the defense of the possibly-fake Asian landlord guy with the not-yet-finely-tuned sense of how, when, and, crucially, whether to invoke race -- but I'm going to drop the "envelope of politeness" (your locution) and slip into something more comfortable:

    I detest your farfetched (Dallas voluntarily elects to shutter one of the busiest airports in the world?!) vision, and the attitude toward rural Texas implicit in it, and all in the service of making Austin grow and grow. Why would we want to do that?

    Reading it made me unhappy in a wish-I-was-never-born kind of way, which only happens a few times a month.

    But I wouldn't like to be accused of negativity for not proffering something else instead.

    (Trying hard to think of my own vision, when actually I'm really super-excited about leaving things the way they are.)

    Got it. Let's make the spaceport they're planning at Boca Chica, the one on the inholding in the refuge, a super-airport serving a reunified Texas and Mexico and ... the galaxy! Our ideas are about on par -- in fact, mine is a step or two closer to fruition.

    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.

  19. Niche, seriously, go stick your head in a toilet. There is no need to empathize with a racist. And, I won't. Perhaps your empathy is rooted in some biases of your own.

    Everyone's a slave to their biases. What would a man be without them, some sort of machine?

    "Nothing human disgusts me unless its unkind, violent."

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