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ToryGattis

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Everything posted by ToryGattis

  1. Yep, that's what I thought too and then I saw the work stall and wondered what was going on. The park proposal is from Houston Public Works, so it's very official. They're seeking input now.
  2. Well, that's what people think is happening, but the reality is that the City is considering not rebuilding it or even tearing it down. See the renderings at the top of this thread. If that's an issue for you, you need to send them feedback at Buildforward@houstontx.gov
  3. Well, ironically, Whole Foods located there counting on the traffic coming off the spur and up Brazos. They would very much like it reopened. I've been to that Whole Foods several times and they are definitely lacking customers right now. The cashiers told me it's dead all the time. I think Whole Foods took a risk locating in a food desert, and it hasn't paid off so far. We need to support it before they close it, and that may mean seriously considering reopening the Brazos bridge. I could see closing just Brazos and Bagby as being tolerable, as I said in my post, but closing the entire spur would be a disaster. I think Midtown has developed just fine - gangbusters even - even with the fast one-way streets. No need to remove them. If Manhattan has them, I don't see why we shouldn't either. Clearly a vibrant walkable community can spring up just fine around them.
  4. You misunderstand where I'm coming from. I'm a live-and-let-live guy, families (usually in the suburbs) and non-families (typically urban). Offer both and let people choose. The big picture story in cities is that people have pushed the average age of marriage and children back almost a decade, and people want to live in cities and urban neighborhoods during that decade, which is totally fine and great (I live in a Midtown midrise myself). Even some empty nesters are coming back, although that is very small (the vast majority age in place in the suburbs). What I'm trying to prevent is a scenario where the anti-suburb forces make commuting intolerable, so many major employers move out to the suburbs (like Exxon) and weaken both the core city and the overall metro (imho). I like that Houston has a strong central core, which can't be said in all cities (and I don't just mean Detroit - I think our core is much stronger than Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix, and even LA in some ways). For the typical major employer, 75+% of their employees are family oriented (30-65 age range). If they are forced to make a choice, they will pick the suburbs. Let's not force them to make that choice. As far as the future of Midtown, for better or worse I think it will blend into downtown after the Pierce is removed and become more and more like downtown - probably something like a small Manhattan. And I'll point out Manhattan has giant one-way streets as well and does better than any other city in America for pedestrian life. They are not incompatible. In fact, midtown will probably become more like Manhattan in another way: big one-way streets moving lots of cars north-south, with smaller more intimate neighborhoods on the cross-streets. It's a fine model.
  5. The urban values are increasing as traffic worsens and there are an increasing number of childless households. Suburbs stay flat because there is plenty of competition (i.e. there is a whole lot of land out there to choose from - not near as much in the core). But this argument frustrates me the same as people who move next to an airport and then complain about the planes. The major streets and freeways are well established. If you don't like living next to them, don't move in next to them. But don't move into them and then complain. You made your decision and knew what you were buying into. Next thing you know, West U, Bellaire, and the westside villages will shrink or cut all their major thru-streets because they don't want people driving through them - they just want to be an endpoint. It's selfish and self-centered and detrimental to the community as a whole.
  6. Yes! Especially more mysterious secret tunnels! 😅 (one of my favorite exploring experiences at Rice) And sure, let them drain water too during a hard rain.
  7. I didn't know about the underground plan. Interesting. I think they should consider a tunnel connecting it all the way up to 45 so that traffic doesn't have to cut through the neighborhood anymore. People don't complain when they assume something is temporary for construction. Permanent is a different issue. Put up a fair-sized sign at the Bagby entrance to the Spur saying it may be closed permanently along with a number to call with feedback, and then see what people say...
  8. There was a scenario/wish made earlier in this thread about removing the spur entirely, which sparked these responses. There are plenty of options for people who want to live closer to core jobs, and more are built every day. We're not lacking for options.
  9. This is the fantasy of urbanists, when the reality is that is far more likely for an employer to give up on the core and move out to the suburbs where their family-centric employees want to live - with good schools and affordable nice new homes (like Exxon did) - than those employees moving into the core of the city. Houston can do both: upgrade and improve mobility from the suburbs to jobs in the core, while also supporting plenty of nice walkable core neighborhoods.
  10. I didn't say they wouldn't work - just that Houston was built around the car because it is the only way to bring an A/C with you everywhere - and most people like that at least 5 months a year. But I think we've developed some very fine, vibrant walkable neighborhoods. I think Midtown works great as it is, which is part of why it's growing so fast. It accommodates a ton of cars during the day, but turns into Houston's biggest nightlife neighborhood at night (downtown is able to do this as well). It also has fantastic access to the rest of the city (partly through the spur), which is very attractive. And the most walkable part is developing exactly where it should - along rail+one-lane Main St.
  11. I've never been opposed to walkable neighborhoods. In fact, quite the opposite. But they need to be stitched together with a robust arterial and freeway network. From a post of mine 14 years ago (!): "I think New Urbanism needs to realize it is a great paradigm at the neighborhood level, but that those neighborhoods need to be linked together with a freeway and arterial network across a larger region if you want an integrated and cohesive metro economy. The pedestrian and the car operate at totally different scales (3mph vs. 30-60mph), and therefore the right form factors for each are different. You don't build a city around just the pedestrian or just the car, but for both. Getting militant about one over the other makes about as much sense as asking "should our country be built around the car or the airplane?" Well, the answer is both: the car for shorter distances, and the airplane for longer ones - and that means interstates and airports. The same logic applies at the scale of a city/metro-region: you need freeways for longer distances, arterials for medium distances, and narrow streets with sidewalks for very short distances (i.e. the pedestrian district/neighborhood). New Urbanism makes the very valid point that we've sort of forgotten about that last category over the last few decades - and we're now rediscovering it - but that doesn't invalidate the other two scales any more than they invalidated the pedestrian scale." ... "The bottom line is that citizen mobility = urban vibrancy. New Urbanists need to focus on building great neighborhoods and let traffic engineers decide the right way to knit those neighborhoods together into a great city." There's more in that post as well: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2006/02/new-urbanism-and-value-of-mobility.html and another relevant one is my application of Jane Jacob's principles to a car-based city like Houston: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2006/05/applying-jane-jacobs-4-tenets-of.html
  12. Nope. I think it needs to be a balance of local residents with the needs of the greater community and metro area. Local residents almost always try to get all the benefits while pushing as many of the costs as possible on others. I think the robust freeway network is what has built Houston into the powerhouse metro that it is - #5 in the country. Without it, we would be a tiny fraction of what we are now. Yeah, I'm not a fan of that screen name either, lol. But he's a good, thoughtful guy that does great analysis.
  13. That would be a disaster, not just in traffic flow to/from downtown, but it would suffocate many of the businesses in Midtown that count on that flow (Specs, Whole Foods, Randalls, and others). I don't want Midtown to go back to being a food/grocery desert. I also think a big part of the densification in Midtown is the easy access to/from 59, including big job centers at Greenway and Uptown (and even Westpark to Westchase). My own views on the spur closing/park on my blog here: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2020/02/could-houston-get-google-converting-59.html
  14. I live in Midtown and the district told us to call Harris County Precinct 7 to report homeless issues. They deploy a special unit with social services. 713-643-6602
  15. Response to Jeff Speck's anti-45N expansion op-ed http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2019/09/response-to-jeff-specks-anti-45n.html
  16. Amazon HQ2 winners vs. Houston http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2018/11/amazon-hq2-winners-vs-houston.html
  17. Well, AF certainly has the stronger position, as I'm sure much more of their Paris feed is interested in going to Houston than UA's Houston feed is interested in going to Paris, mainly because of geography. Houston's logical draw zone from the southwest to go on to Paris is pretty weak - mainly Mexico (which would prefer not to connect in the USA) - and there are more logical hubs than Houston to go through from the western USA. I can see why UA couldn't support the flight. I'll bet it also filled up with reward tickets, and they might as well send reward fliers from Houston through Chicago, DC, or NYC hubs.
  18. Well, they both had it for many years just fine. My understanding is that AF is pretty safe because they have the Schlumberger corporate contract. Here's what I think it comes down to, once you get beyond European cities in the oil business: which Europeans are doing business in Mexico and Central America? Because Houston is the ideal connecting hub for that from Europe. There are some car plants in Mexico (inc. VW), but I don't know what else beyond that.
  19. Lol. The logical ones would be Paris, Vienna (Star Alliance partner Austrian hub), Zurich (partner Swiss hub), and Brussels (partner hub).
  20. Again, the ad hominem is unnecessary. Culberson is an elected rep, and did what he thought his constituents wanted, which was block that line. You may disagree, but that is what elected reps are supposed to do. If constituents didn't want a freeway built or expanded, I would fully expect them to lobby their reps to block it.
  21. Well, most medical tends to be local, but we do have such highly reputable specialties that people come from all over the world - cancer treatment at MD Anderson, for example. My thought has always been that the US only has 7 truly global cities: NYC, LA, SF, DC, Chicago, Miami, and Houston. United's most recent investor presentation backs it up - see the chart on page 11, 12th slide in the pdf.
  22. Possibly. They had money, voter authorization, and contractors itching to build. I understand why they did it. And I suppose it's possible at the time they genuinely thought they'd have enough money to finish everything eventually (the cost overruns killed that fantasy). But all logic would argue when you have limited resources, you should build your lines in order from highest to lowest projected ridership (the original Red line was the perfect first-route choice). Can you imagine if 70 years ago TXDoT had said "we know everybody wants a freeway to Galveston from Houston, but that's got a few problems to overcome, so we're going to just go ahead and build 59 or 288 out to some sugar and rice paddies instead and circle back to 45S in a decade or two"?!
  23. New thought this morning: Amazon's rejection of Houston for HQ2 could have been as simple as bad PR optics: it just looks bad to squeeze a city for big incentives that just went through one of the most expensive natural disasters in history. They probably imagined future nightmare stories in the media: "well, we would have spent all this money on new flood control infrastructure, but we had to give it to Amazon instead."
  24. Sorry, but ad hominem attacks on the arguer is a sign you know you can't win on the facts or logic. Keep it respectful and argue on the merits, not personal attacks. As far as myself, I've always argued *METRO* (not opponents) made a massive error of judgment when the used limited resources to build the green and purple lines when they should have prioritized the much more useful University line. But when Culberson blocked them, I'm guessing they figured they'd build what they could (ridership be damned) and just keep pointing to the network hole hoping to get another round of funding and authorization to build it.
  25. Because of all the local passengers in the Greenspoint area (lots of low-income apartments), which slows down the route incredibly for airport travelers (few to none). I'm talking about when they ran the express bus from the transit center downtown directly to and from IAH.
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