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Big E

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  1. While its not ugly (and God knows Houston has some ugly buildings), its a massive step down from the older renderings and models, and a definite retreat from ambition. Does no one in Houston have ambition anymore.
  2. This has to be one of the most imposing structures I've ever seen for a building. Most of the other buildings downtown don't have this kind of street presence. Most of them are setback from the street with small bases. This is something else.
  3. 1. Not everyone considers the routing of the freeways a mistake. In my estimation, the current alignments are fine, barring the downtown ring which I think was poorly designed. 2. We aren't running a new freeway through half a city. We are rerouting existing ones in way that makes more sense and will actually allow us to undo some of the issues that came with the original routes in the first place. Its a completely different situation to what was done in the 50s and 60s when the freeways went in. 3. No I currently don't live next to a freeway, but I do live around the corner from a major highway. The road noise carries, but its really not all that bad, aside from all the emergency vehicle sirens. In my hometown, my neighborhood was close to a major highway that wasn't quite a freeway, but only because it had no overpasses; four lane divided highways with a wide median, ditches on either side, and frontage roads on either side. Didn't exactly encourage walk-ability and wasn't what urbanists would call a "people scale" road, but it did its job and the only real question that crossed my mind about it was why they didn't just route the Interstate through the route when they put it in.
  4. Social Justice has nothing to do with this. Its economic and physical reality. These roads and railways have been here long before many of the people currently living there were actually born, and they will still be there long after most of them are dead. As long as they fulfill their function in the economy (moving goods and people rapidly on a citywide, regional, and national scale), they will continue to exist. The freeways tore through cities and neighborhoods, yes. That was over fifty years ago. Houston has actually had to deal with that issue less than other major metropolises in America; it grew up around its freeway system rather than having the freeways cut through established neighborhoods in all but the oldest sections of the city; downtown and the surrounding areas. Most of the Freeways were built when Houston as we know it was mostly forests, swamp, and farmland. Look at old pictures of these freeways while they were in their initial development: rolling fields and scattered subdivisions, destined to become inner city neighborhoods are what you would see. These roads are now ingrained in the social and economic fabric of the city: they aren't going anywhere, no matter if the neighborhoods that surround them are rich white neighborhoods, or poor black and Latino ones, or the odd Asian enclave. They are there, and "everyone" (white, black, red or yellow), has "gotten used to them".
  5. I would consider redeveloping the bayou frontage and helping downtown to be a much bigger priority, and I'm sure the city sees it the same way. It simply makes more economic sense, and going by the Downtown District's plans, that's exactly what they're thinking. Moving the Freeway north would open up that entire area to extensive redevelopment, which is the plan. The Freeway should never have come that far south to begin with, as far as I'm concerned. Now, I would have, at the least, had I-49 tunnel under the rail yards, to limit the ROW that would be needed. Ideally, I would have tunneled 49 and 10, but I understand the level of expense would probably be too much. But even above ground, I would have moved the freeway north and had it cover the yards themselves. They could build something like this development on the other side of the freeway, closer to downtown. Because somebody will "have to get used to it" in some fashion. The area around the freeway had to get used to its existence in its current configuration for decades. Once again, North Freeway, 1-10, and Eastex Freeway have already been there for decades, as have the rail yards themselves, and they aren't going anywhere. People have already "gotten used to" their existence long ago. The city will priority region considerations over the considerations of one neighborhood.
  6. I'm not sure whether moving it a few blocks over would make that big a difference. Developing a parking lot on Main Street would have been a plus though.
  7. I mean they aren't one of Marriott's top Luxury brands (those would be JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, and St. Regis; as a minor correction to my original post, Houston does have a St. Regis to add to the list of ultra-luxury hotels in Houston), but its still a top of the line hotel in a city that doesn't have many, especially downtown (I mean I know you guys just love that downtown Embassy Suites, but Houston can do better). Though I would probably prefer a JW Marriott over a W Hotel, they just opened one in Downtown Houston in 2014 in the old Carter Building, so a slightly less pricey hotel to complement it and that building with the three different Marriott's in it made sense. Or would you rather they push for a Ritz-Carlton? I'm all for that (fun fact: Houston used to have a Ritz-Carlton; the hotel lost the name when the holding company that ran it refused to pay management fees to the Ritz-Carlton company).
  8. While I'm sure a high freeway is not optimal for the apartment views, they've been talking about this freeway project for what, half a decade? Its not like anyone should be going into this blindfolded. I mean, the freeway isn't that faraway now, and the apartments are already right next to a rail yard; not sure the people living there are worried about sound. Trust me; I'm from a rail town with a large rail yard; you can hear those trains a coming at night miles away. You just get used to it and don't even notice it after awhile. And Houston already has a crap ton of apartments literally right next to the freeways. Doubt this will be any different.
  9. Honestly don't see what anyone is complaining about. That bend in I-10 always felt unnecessary and dangerous to me and the freeway construction is taking out nothing important or anywhere anyone is living in. Win-win as far as I can see it.
  10. That shouldn't be a problem for the W Hotel we are talking here. These ultra-luxury hotels are frequented by the exact kind of people who would not only rent a car, but hire someone to drive them everywhere. Honestly, for a city this size, Houston has a dearth of hotels of this caliber. We are talking the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriot, and The Luxury Collection by Marriott. The Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Hotels, and LXR Resorts by Hilton. The InterContinental hotels, Kimpton Hotels, and Regent Hotels by Intercontinental. Sofitel and Fairmont Hotels by Accor. Grand Hyatt by Hyatt. Mandarin Oriental. Loews Hotels. Houston's lack of these major brands, which even cities the fraction of its size has is baffling and shows an unbelievably weak hotel sector for a "world class city". Houston has an Intercontinental in the Medical Center, two Omni Hotels, Club Quarters, J.W. Marriott Hotels by the Galleria and in downtown, at least one Wyndham in the Energy Corridor...I'm blanking on any more. While Hostels are nice, its these marquee hotels that are the mark of a truly great city. So something like this, no matter how unappealing the building is, no matter the amount of subsidy, is welcome.
  11. You know, i actually like this design very much. Its a beautiful, dense urban development, and one I could see filling Eastern Houston quite well. That whole area has always felt neglected ever since they cancelled the Harrisburg Expressway, leading to development moving westward. Though, for the past few years, I figured the location would work as a place for the city to build its new Public Safety Facility and Police HQ and also be big enough to hold the County Courts and administration. The City tried to buy the old Post Office north of Downtown to put the public safety complex there and there's controversy over what to do with court buildings after the Harvey flooding. I thought the location was ideal for both purposes, since this property is in close proximity to the sheriff's office, prisons, and joint prisoner intake, but I should have known developers had snatched it up. I would also do that, but maybe the larger buildings are commercial and they are looking for tenants to fill the office space?
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