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Everything posted by aachor

  1. Wow. The Bayou is looking pretty lush and green. It's been a while since I've been to that bridge. I think the banks were still somewhat scoured from Harvey last time I went. Anyways, Cityliving, thank you for the steady stream of impressive images. I always look forward to your posts.
  2. I see that they're doing something. I hope they're doing more than just patching the patches. One issue that I see (mostly between the Barnaby's and Taft) is that it seems like street parking crowds the sidewalks because there's no real curb. There are a lot of pedestrians pushed into the street. More development will just exacerbate it until that's fixed.
  3. Hopefully this will push the city to upgrade Fairview between Montrose and Tuam. It drives like a war-torn, bombed-out rural road in Eastern Ukraine. Curbs and decent sidewalks would be nice too. You know...like you find in cities.
  4. It does seem odd to me. Though, it is the only thing that I can think of to explain the ridiculous amount of sand that came up with the water in the video that's going around.
  5. It's no wonder that there was a busted floor. Given the design requirements for standpipe systems, it's easy to imagine that standpipe would exert well over 14,000 pounds per square foot of hydraulic pressure (assuming no other easy outlet for that pressure) on the underside of the floor. It's also easy to imagine pressures multiple times higher than that. Nothing that is not already designed as a pressure vessel is going to provide the least amount of resistance. The main limiting factor is going to be flow rate. But, looking through NFPA requirements, I don't think that's going to be a factor in any confined space. I still think that maybe this could have been caused by soil subsidence on the exterior of the building. Shr.Technical.Rar.110.pdf
  6. From Wednesday: A burst standpipe on its own is plenty reason to evacuate the building. Likely their fire suppression and alarm system will have to be recertified before the building can be occupied. https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2022/08/12/suspected-pipe-burst-prompts-evacuation-at-high-rise-condo-in-river-oaks-officials-say/
  7. I wonder if it's nothing more than a water main busted under a basic slab floor due to subsidence outside the building (this drought has been wreaking havoc on the city's roads and pipes). If there was no easy way for the water pressure to be relieved, it could exert several thousand pounds of upward pressure on that floor slab. All of the sand in the video would seem to indicate that the slab is just sitting on a supporting graded sand base and is not likely designed to support multiple tons of unsupported pressure. Hopefully they got the water main shut off quickly. If they did, I wonder if the damage is minimal- limited to an interior floating floor slab and interior partition walls.
  8. Hey, my lurking on this forum is important housing-market research which will be used to support our company's nation-wide recruiting efforts.
  9. That would be an issue if the tax was not structured properly. If it was structured how I think it could be, you'd see a significant increase in tax rates on unused lots or lots with nothing but large parking lots. Almost identical tax rates on single-family housing on small lots, and a decrease in rates on multi-family development. It would require some serious modeling to get it right. But at the end of the day, it's all math and data. It can be done. The goal would be to make it revenue neutral while somewhat shifting the tax burden onto owners of undeveloped or underdeveloped lots.
  10. The hard reality is that Houston just doesn't have the density to make robust mass transit entirely practical yet. If you look internationally at cities where it does make sense, you'll see much higher densities. I don't think mass transit is entirely a "build it and they will come" sort of proposition. It certainly does spur a degree of development to lay down a light rail line. I'm certain that much of the development in Midtown is because of the existence of the light rail. However, my wife and I have been searching for housing for months. With her working in the Medical Center, finding something within a couple of blocks of the rail was something we were indeed interested in. However, we did not like the very limited options we found. Houston has been and still is a low-density city. Development inside the loop in the last decade has begun to change that, but it's not nearly enough for most people to want to give up a car or two. I don't know that simply adding mass transit will spur further development on its own at this point. My wife and I would have liked to have found a condo inside a mile from the Medical Center. But there were no options suitable for us. For now, we will be dependent on our car. If other incentives would work in concert with transit to spur density- to build more mid and high-rise housing close to where people work and shop and eat, then I think transit solutions would be more obvious and straightforward. The ridership would be there. The demand would be there. I wish that the state would reexamine how property taxes are structured. For example: Right now, taxes are based simply on the property's assessed value. I think there should be separate assessments for the land and for improvements, with the land being taxed at a higher rate than improvements in major cities. A restructuring like this could incentivize developers to maximize improvements on more limited tracts of land because it would result in low-density developments like parking lots being taxed at a higher rate than high-density developments. This would also address some of the negative externalities that low-density development imposes on city infrastructure. And, I'm sure that a plan like this could be developed in a revenue-neutral way so as to not further increase the high-property tax burden that Texas already has. Freezing tax assessments on a property 10 years after major developments could negate the downsides of gentrification that this sort of restructuring would spur. Just a thought...something like this would obviously be a low priority for a legislature that is too busy fighting politics.
  11. I agree that it is tacky. In fact, I find the whole building to be gaudy and ugly. However, Houston has no shortage of sterile glass boxes. I think the city could stand to have a few tasteless, garish, and cheesy buildings. Over the coming decades, for better or worse, this building will be a landmark. No doubt.
  12. I get the sentiment. The solution is quite simple, really: don't live in the dead-center of the nation's fourth-largest city. If you can afford to live near Bissonnet and Ashby, you can afford to live just about anywhere else. People have a right to control their own property. But they don't also have a right to control everything else within their eyesight. Especially when they are surrounded by seven million other people who also have their own interests.
  13. I love it. It's modern without being overly trendy. I love the pillars separating the residences from the garage- it breaks up the visual massing. And, generally I hate stucco in mid/high-rise construction. But in the instances when it's been used in this kind of building, I think it works. Regardless, it's a million times better than building massive city block-sized buildings with cheap post-modern bastardized takes on Italian or Spanish architecture.
  14. Hmmm... On March 15, 2018, the Houston Planning Commission had approved a variance for a hotel.
  15. I don't disagree. I think skybridges are good when there is good reason for foot traffic to run between two non-public buildings (E.g., M.D. Anderson's many connected buildings). But I also think that denser areas should consider more basic elevated crosswalks which are simply connected to public sidewalks via stairs. Again, the Las Vegas strip makes extensive use of elevated crossways, but so do many East Asian cities. Playing Frogger across Holcombe at rush hour is not ideal. And it's not even that the traffic travels particularly fast at that time. 100%. I don't think that elevated trains, roadways, or walkways are ideal for 99% of Houston. But in denser areas like the Med Center, I think they are a way to make foot traffic safer and more desirable. I don't disagree. But I think the way forward here is to encourage high-density mixed-use development. I think there are serious tweaks to how Texas' property tax is structured that could help with this, for example. I'd bet that there are city ordinances and permitting rules that could be optimized. I don't think that the route that many other American cities have taken of trying to regulate and codify desired outcomes is appropriate for Houston. The end result of that approach is usually less overall development and higher costs for the public. Los Angeles has taken to enforcing "road diets" to try and encourage the use of their awful public transit and, according to my friends, all it's done is make everything more hellish for everyone. We're a city that is economically friendly to immigrants and the middle-class. I hope we stay that way.
  16. I guess it depends on how one defines "successful." If you define it as creating an cozy welcoming atmosphere similar to a quaint European town with cute little bistros and cafes and a mime on the corner, then no, these examples are not "successful." But if you define "successful" as functional for the purpose of allowing pedestrian and automotive traffic to safely traverse the area while providing access to mixed-used development including retail, then the examples I provides are successes (except I can't comment on La Défense). As far as I've experienced, East Asian cities in particular often do vertically separate pedestrian, rail, and automotive traffic along major thoroughfares in their denser urban cores, and they are highly functional, safe, and easy to navigate on foot. When it comes to urban development, I think we should stop romanticizing the past and consider what works best given current realities. Houston has a reputation for repeatedly bulldozing its history to allow space for new development. Given that the cost of living is low, and the opportunities for low and middle-class residents are unmatched, I embrace the bulldozer.
  17. Also, I'm pretty sure that nearly the entirety of Paris' La Défense district is built with pedestrian traffic elevated above automotive and rail traffic. Though, I've never been there.
  18. Well, there's really nothing there except hospitals. Those hospital food courts are not what most people would consider a "destination." Off the top of my head, Las Vegas comes to mind, Downtown Houston (went under instead of over), sections of London, sections of Hong Kong, and sections of Taipei. Many cities in East Asia elevate major thoroughfares and bypasses through dense areas, leaving surface streets for strictly local and pedestrian traffic. It's also fairly common for East Asian cities to have elevated crosswalks at the centers of large blocks or at major intersections. Many major cities around the world elevate their light rail. San Francisco built an entire transit center, park, and pedestrian thoroughfare spanning several blocks above surface street level. Creating multiple levels of circulation is not a novel idea. We have a wonderful city.
  19. Just too throw my two cents in with the unpopular opinion: I think skybridges and elevated crosswalks are good and that we need more of them. Houston is not a dense little European city where the streets were laid out at a time when people were still pooping in fields. Houston is a modern American city where the streets were designed to facilitate the automobile. Automobiles will always be the primary mode of transportation. However, if a city wants to encourage walking (which has many urban-planning benefits), a good way to do that is keep foot traffic somewhat separate from automotive traffic. The Medical Center has many skybridges, and I wish there were more. I think it would be ideal if there were a complete network of them connecting every major institution and every garage. Not only would they increase pedestrian safety, they'd allow people to walk between buildings in air-conditioning. As it is, there are still many hospital staff who wander into traffic on Holcombe, Fannin, and Main to cross the road. All three of these major roads are very heavily trafficked, especially around the 7a and 7p shift changes, and they all have very long lights. I worry for the safety of the the many hundreds of hospital workers that jaywalk these busy roads when they are in a rush. Automotive traffic gets very heavy and drivers (especially those from out of town) have their hands full just navigating. It seems that additional elevated walkways and skybridges, especially across busily crossed streets (E.g. between TMC Braeswood Garage and MDA) would help both pedestrian and automotive traffic navigate the space more safely. The denser areas of the city, especially the downtown and med center, are dense because the built environment has moved beyond the two-dimensional plane of the earth, and has expanded upward into the third dimension. I think these dense areas need three-dimensional thinking when it comes to handling traffic as well. Otherwise, as buildings grow vertically, congestion on our two-dimensional streets increases exponentially.
  20. To throw my two cents in, I agree. I plan on enthusiastically voting for Mealer in November. I've donated to her campaign. And I suspect that Hidalgo's office is corrupt. BUT You're right. Smoke does not necessarily imply fire (e.g. Trump/Russia collusion). I think that any voter who is informed enough to follow the indictments is also likely to understand that they are just that- indictments. Nothing has been proven. The prosecutors are just beginning to build their cases. I don't think that the indictments will necessarily hurt Hidalgo in the general election, assuming she can handle her PR well. I don't think that playing the victim card that she's been trying to play will serve her well. She's in too high of an office for that. But she's not an idiot. I expect that she will adjust her tact soon and play this whole thing smartly. Innocent or not.
  21. I think we're riding a serious housing bubble and we've already passed the high water mark. If they're thinking the same thing, now is the time to sell. I doubt this will be as bad as 2008, but even so, it could be 5-8 years before inflation-adjusted prices recover. Houston does seem pretty resilient to bubbles bursting though. Where I'm from in small-town Michigan, prices have only just gone up to 2008 levels. My parents were under water on their mortgage for a decade.
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