Jump to content


Full Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by bachanon

  1. Envisioning a Livable City by Stephen Sharp The idea of living in downtown Houston is no longer a joke. In fact, the potential for residential development in the Central Business District has completely altered predictions for downtown over the next 20 years. The study by Powers Brown Architecture took three groupings of downtown land and investigated several models for configuration of high-density housing. The High-Rise, Mixed-Use Development (1) is centered around Main Street. The High-Rise, High-Density Development (2) is just west of the George R. Brown Convention Center. The Low-Rise, High-Density Development (3) is clustered on the south side of the Toyota Center. High-Rise, Mixed-Use High-Rise, High-Density This much is clear: the era of newer, taller office towers is over. The new vision for downtown foresees high-density pockets of high-rise and mid-rise housing developments occupied by 20,000 residents by 2025. The 2000 U.S. Census brought the future into focus. For the first time, as demonstrated by the latest federal statistics, the population inside Loop 610 grew at a higher percentage rate than the population outside the loop during the 1990s. Though surprising to many, those figures verified a trend that Houston's development community already was following. Release of the 2000 Census prompted the Houston Downtown Management District (better known as the Downtown District) to commission a survey in 2003 to update statistics from 1993 and 1998 on how Houstonians perceived the downtown area. The 2003 survey indicated that 16,400 housing units could be sold or leased in downtown and the area just to the south called Midtown. While that represented the potential for a significant upswing from the current population of 2,500 residents, the survey's findings also sent a clear message to stakeholders that the inner city was unprepared for what appeared to be Houston's next chapter. Despite the many recent improvements and additions to downtown - including the initial 7.5-mile line of a sleek light rail transit system, a $62 million streetscape project, a 40,000-seat baseball stadium, a 1,200-room convention center hotel, and a two-venue performing arts center - much more work remained before Houston's inner city could be truly livable. (Many of those projects, completed in the last two years, grew out of ideas that emerged a decade ago from the "Designing for Change" program that teamed AIA Houston with the Downtown District.) Houston's expected evolution would require infrastructure upgrades to handle high-density residential development, as well as quality-of-life enhancements such as parks, schools, retail, and services. And with the downtown's extremely limited stock of historic buildings already converted for residential use, the need for new residential buildings was obvious. To begin envisioning how residential development could fit into the existing urban matrix, the development community (under the auspices of Central Houston, a nonprofit coalition of businesses interested in maintaining a thriving downtown) put together six task forces and a steering committee to plot a course for the future. Guy Hagstette, AIA, an executive with Central Houston, coordinated the effort, which included the Urban Form and Urban Design Task Force. One of the members of that task force is Jeffrey Brown, AIA, a principal with Powers Brown Architecture. Brown's firm eventually was hired by Central Houston and three associated groups to undertake a series of studies to determine possible configurations for high-density, multi-structure residential developments in three areas within the CBD. Parameters varied widely for each of the three developments, but all shared some of the same requirements, such as access to public spaces, adequate parking, and proximity to mass transit. Of course, development costs would have to be minimized to ensure that those Houstonians who wanted to live downtown could afford the rent or the mortgage. As Hagstette said recently, "The challenge is getting the right product at the right price." The study by Powers Brown is divided into three residential developments, with each responding to unique sets of criteria. High-Rise, High-Density The study of the nine-block area west of the George R. Brown Convention Center explores different land uses, including how to incorporate an existing, privately owned greenspace located directly in front of the convention center. Brown's firm developed several potential configurations, with each preserving views west toward the center of downtown. This aspect of the project is anticipated to create 3,000 to 5,000 residential units (about 1,100 sf, with two bedrooms) in several high-rise buildings, perhaps some as tall as 40 stories. This segment of downtown is expected to be linked to other parts of downtown , as well as to the rest of the city, by a future light rail line. Low-Rise, High-Density Located south of the convention center and the Toyota Center basketball arena, the architects have amassed eight blocks on either side of Pease Street. The biggest challenge to residential developers is the relatively remote site, which is not included in any future plans for light rail. The low-rise structures would be limited a height of 75 feet, allowing for buildings as tall as eight floors. The number of potential residential units is 2,500 (also about 1,100 sf). High-Rise, Multi-Use The 12-blocks on either side of Main Street at the southern end of downtown is different in that it mixes residential with offices and other types of spaces. The proposed scheme includes three or four high-rise buildings along with other mid-rise structures. The total number of residential units is 3,500. The light rail link already is in place and the neighborhood is served by two existing Metro Light Rail stations. Rather than calling his firm's project a master plan, Brown prefers the term "a framework of development scenarios" to describe the study of aggregating blocks of private and public land into three distinct areas with specific uses. "For us the real issue became the ability of each pattern to stimulate or accommodate the variability of real market conditions," says Brown, underscoring that the study had less to do with aesthetics than efficient land us and incentives for development. The main consideration, he says, is the long-term economic viability of the future developments and the residual effects on downtown as an interconnected community. The overarching objective of the work of the six task forces, according to Hagstette, is to plan far enough ahead for Houston - with the fourth largest population in the U.S. - to remain competitive in the international marketplace. "For Houston as a whole it has to have an urban lifestyle to compete globally," Hagstette says. The new paradigm for all U.S. cities is urban residential, he says, and Houston has set its 2050 goal at 20,000 urban residents, which city leaders consider the necessary number to sustain retail and other downtown amenities. The work so far has produced critical results - light rail, a thriving theater district, two sports arenas, the convention center hotel - that allows Houston to take the next step forward. "The vision is more exciting than what we've already done, " Hagstette says. "Now we're creating a city." Focus on Quality of Life Creating a livable city involves more than developing residential blocks. The future inhabitants of downtown Houston will desire a quality of life much the same as their neighbors enjoy beyond Loop 610. Recent improvements and plans for more improvements in the near future to enhance to the downtown experience. Richardson Place A $62 million streetscape project in a 90-block area stretching across the north end of downtown was completed last year that altered sidewalks to make them more pedestrian friendly, as well as adding many new on-street parking spaces. The Cotswold Project, designed by Rey de la Reza Architects, also added numerous landscaping and public art features to the street scheme that extends from Buffalo Bayou to Minute Maid Park. With water as one of the project's themes, artists created 12 fountains--eight along Preston Avenue and four on Congress Street. Sidewalks were widened to make room for the fountains, with the largest measuring 14 feet tall. Another major improvement project is intended to make Buffalo Bayou into an urban amenity. In 2002, the nonprofit Buffalo Bayou Partnership produced a master plan for 10 miles of the neglected urban waterway that is hoped to help achieve that goal. The master plan envisions a mixed-use neighborhood at downtown's East End. Richardson Place (above) is planned to provide opportunities for varying densities of low-impact residential development flanking a wide, tree-lined pedestrian mall. Gable Street Landing Gable Street Landing is planned as a major new entertainment district center and northern terminus to the Crawford Street "Super Boulevard." The project provides an inviting link between Buffalo Bayou's waterfront and the district around the George R. Brown Convention Center. Another downtown project is the North Canal, which will be designed to accommodate caf
  2. great pictures. for years i've admired many of the industrial buildings you posted and wondered how they might be reused.
  3. http://www.conroeisd.net/images/school/14.jpg Main Entrance: State HWY 242 and Honor Roll Drive http://www.conroeisd.net/images/school/cphs/newhs_site.jpg Site Plan The campus is scheduled to open in the fall of 2005. The campus is located west of I-45 and east of Gosling on the south side of SH242. The new Woodlands high school will have a capacity of roughly 2400 students. The school will open with grades 9-11. The campus will have 62 regular classrooms, 15 science rooms, 7 computer labs, 3 art rooms, 1 library, 1 band hall, 1 orchestra hall, 1 choir room, and 1 black box (drama) classroom. In addition, there will be two gyms, an auditorium, agriculture shop classrooms, a sub-varsity stadium/track, and an administration area. http://www.conroe.isd.tenet.edu/schools/newhs_cafeteria.jpg Rendering of Cafeteria http://www.conroe.isd.tenet.edu/schools/newhs_mainstreet.jpg Rendering of "Main Street" Monday and Tuesday night this past week, CISD held a parent meeting on the progress of College Park HS. The renderings pale in comparison to the current construction photos shown this week.
  4. Dec. 1, 2004, 7:45PM Woodlands considers pavilion for Town Center Facility would serve as site for ice rink, public events By BETH KUHLES Chronicle Correspondent PROPOSED PAVILION
  5. that would be the bear branch lake and reservoir. the area around this lake and reservoir will not be developed with the exception of alden lake park serving the residents of alden bridge. the current map of this area allows no space for future development.
  6. the rouse company has a development that inspired george mitchell to create the woodlands. he used the rouse development as a model for many things we enjoy in "the woods". they are sensitive to the original "vision" for the development. many residents are relieved that crescent (who was disecting, selling and overdeveloping) are out of the picture.
  7. Woodlands commuters have new option Parkway section links to FM 2978 By BETH KUHLES and CHARLIE BIER Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle ON THE ROAD IN THE WOODLANDS Projects complete or nearing completion in The Woodlands include the following:
  8. excellent information! thank you! my home backs up to the woodlands parkway and grogan's mill road. when i update my siding, i would like to add some sound proofing. it CAN be done. yee haa!
  9. Vaughn Construction to build TWU urban campus Mary Ann Azevedo Houston Business Journal Texas Woman's University has awarded a $27.7 million contract to Houston-based Vaughn Construction to build the university's new urban campus in the Texas Medical Center. The new campus will more than double the educational institution's Houston enrollment to 3,000 students. Construction is set to begin early next year. In preparation for the move, TWU participated in a land swap with The Methodist Hospital for the new site. The deal called for TWU, which has a primary campus in Denton, to build a new local campus on land previously owned by Methodist. In exchange, Methodist will build a patient tower on the soon-to-be abandoned TWU Houston campus as part of its own multimillion-dollar expansion in the medical center. The new 10-story, 202,000-square-foot TWU campus will include seminar rooms designed for traditional instruction, conferences, video conferencing and distance learning. Classrooms will be located on every academic floor of the building, which also will include several 120-seat lecture halls and a 250-seat auditorium. TWU established a Houston campus in 1960 by expanding its nursing program to the Texas Medical Center. Today, the campus serves almost 1,200 students majoring in nursing, physical therapy, library science, health care administration, occupational therapy and nutrition. TWU has the largest nursing program in Texas, with more than 2,200 nursing students, and produces more new nurses than any other program in the state. A nursing college will serve as the centerpiece of the new TWU Houston campus. TWU recently received a $3 million grant from the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation for the nursing center.
  10. can you define resilient channels please? are they something that can be worked into/retrofitted into a private residence?
  11. i can't imagine wanting to live next to I-45 at this location. i wonder how people in the sabine street lofts and 2016 main can stand the road noise in units on the freeway side.
  12. only in houston. it does add an interesting dimension to the growing list of downtown "residents".
  13. eliminating the remaining portion of the albert thomas convention center (especially the portion over bagby) will provide an opportunity to connect hobby center to the theatre district (as someone on HAIF suggested before). greater pedestrian connectivity and sight lines from the aquarium to hobby center would improve the area. any development of the western portion of this development should take this into consideration (entertainment, retail or residential). personally, i'd like another theatre with restaurants or retail opening up to bagby AND the bayou.
  14. thanks, dbigtex, for the insider. this certainly helps soften the blow. i'm all for new and better (errr, sustainable) architecture. at the same time, i adore the exterior of this building.
  15. i drove past this building on sunday. my heart sank when i realized it is going to be gone soon. what a waste.
  16. perhaps it's such a "sure" financial loss that a company who needs more losses for tax purposes can stand to use the vacancies in houston to their advantage in the mean time, yet, get their brand in houston (while interest rates are low) until things turn up as they are expected to. businesses aren't always opened for immediate profit.
  17. yes ricco! i was thinking a historic looking trolley line from NW Mall to UHD a block or two from the main street line (or at least ending near houston ave). with the amount of right of way, a hike and bike trail could be an added feature on a separate grade from the trolley line. the hike and bike trail could have period lighting and benches, planters, art. properties bordering the hike and bike/trolley line would begin to open up to it creating a new (or old) type of street life. it would create an entirely new dimension to the heights/washington area, a non-car centered environment spanning from the loop and 290 to downtown.
  18. our region is growing rapidly. our region is becoming more prosperous. as houston grows and prospers so will galveston.
  19. bachanon


    our family has an investment in a REIT that has done well too, but as jm1fd said, when the real estate market cools the REIT investment will not be so great.
  20. i agree, austin would win. not that i think austin is better, just more media friendly.
  21. Progress Continues in Carlton Woods-Creekside Special to The Villager 11/17/2004 The gated community of Carlton Woods in The Woodlands shows a 50 percent increase for new home sales along with a 36 percent increase in new homesite sales through the week ending Sept. 30, 2004 compared to the same period last year, according to Tim Welbes, senior vice president of residential for The Woodlands Operating Company. The gated community of Carlton Woods in The Woodlands shows a 50 percent increase for new home sales along with a 36 percent increase in new homesite sales through the week ending Sept. 30, 2004 compared to the same period last year, according to Tim Welbes, senior vice president of residential for The Woodlands Operating Company. Through the third quarter of 2004, 12 new inventory homes have sold for a total dollar volume of $14,565,600 compared to six new homes in 2003 for a total amount of $4,480,950. Lot sales have reached 56 with a total dollar volume of $21,262,547 compared with the same period last year of 36 homesites for a total of $15,455,650. The successful year is due in part to the introduction of Carlton Woods-Creekside, the 500-acre expansion to Carlton Woods in The Woodlands' newest village of Creekside Park, located south of Spring Creek. The development of the Tom Fazio 18-hole Championship golf course in Carlton Woods-Creekside is also a powerful incentive for prospective lot purchasers, Welbes said. Carlton Woods-Creekside will feature 260 homesites, with approximately 150 offering views of the Fazio golf course, lake or greenbelt. Custom and estate lots are available now in the new gated community surrounding the Fazio course. The development will be phased over a period of several years. "Carlton Woods-Creekside recently welcomed its first property owners, Mark and G.K. Merrill," Welbes said. "The Merrill's future residence will overlook the fourth fairway on the new Fazio golf course." Sales and marketing of the new Carlton Woods gated community are being handled by IMI Resort Marketing of Greenville, S.C. "IMI has been involved in the success of the Carlton Woods community since it opened in 2000," Welbes said. "Andrew Whitacre was recently named the IMI director of sales for Carlton Woods." The Fazio Championship course will be The Woodlands' seventh golf course. Fazio joins Jack Nickalus who designed a Signature course that opened in 2001 in Carlton Woods. Both the Fazio course and the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course in Carlton Woods will be for play by members of The Club at Carlton Woods. All members of the Club at Carlton Woods will have access to the Italian villa-styled clubhouse plus the tennis and fitness center near the Nicklaus course. Renowned golf architect Tom Fazio recently visited The Woodlands to review the course and was pleased with its progress, according to Andrew Whitacre. "The new Fazio course captures the brilliant rolling terrain of Carlton Woods-Creekside," Whitacre said. "The Championship course will be a magnificent expansion to the amenities that Carlton Woods offers its residents." Fazio has been named "Best Modern Day Golf Course Architect" three times in polls of his peers in Golf Digest, and was selected among all of the world's premier designers to revamp the fabled Augusta National course. He has approximately 120 courses to his credit, most of them in the U.S., including three at Pinehurst, Dallas National, Barton Creek in Austin, Berkeley Hall in Hilton Head, S.C., and Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. With the opening of the Fazio course, Carlton Woods will be the only gated community in the country with a private Nicklaus/Fazio combination. "Carlton Woods will offer 36-holes of premier golf that you simply will not find anywhere else," Whitacre said. "As to which course is better, the Nicklaus or the Fazio, let the locker room debate begin."
  • Create New...