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ToryGattis

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Everything posted by ToryGattis

  1. My wife and I looked at a similar lot once. She used to live on the bayou in Dickinson, and had to have a bulkhead installed to prevent erosion. I don't know the price ($10-$20k?), but it wasn't very tall and it was on a relatively calm bayou - not the case with Buffalo Bayou.
  2. Hold on folks. There is no conflict between Denver and IAH. CAL used to have hubs at both, and only gave up on DEN because UAL was bigger than them there. A CAL-UAL merger would have a nice set of well-spaced hubs in major cities, certainly far better spaced than Delta-NWA, which will have 5 hubs together in a relatively small zone. If any hub is at risk, it would be Cleveland, but I think it will be kept because it is still a very large city, and O'Hare is maxed out and under flight caps. I would certainly prefer to connect thru CLE over ORD any day - it has far fewer delays. Just to get the facts straight: Denver metro is about half the size of Houston, with little international business and bad geography for feeding international flights. UAL is under tremendous assault in DEN from both Frontier and SWA. IAH has plenty of expansion capacity to become one of the busiest airports in the world, with up to 7 runways. Houston also has far more O&D traffic, esp. international from the energy business. CAL also has the youngest fleet of the majors. CAL is widely acknowledged as the superior management teams, esp. by Wall Street. That said, HQ is an issue. UAL just signed an incentive deal with Chicago to move their HQ downtown, and they are locked in with big penalties if they leave. Hopefully the HQ will still stay in Houston, but an alternative could be a dual-HQ, for financial and political reasons - kind of like Haliburton is doing with Houston and Dubai. Hi-def telepresence technology makes it very practical today. As far as the name, United is known by more people globally, but Continental is more respected. I think "Continental United" would be a fine name that could unify both brand values. Implies "unifying the continents", which is a great image for an international airline. There has also been some talk of a merger like Air France-KLM, which keeps the two companies separate under a parent. Not quite as many cost synergies, but it eliminates a *lot* of the pitfalls of airline mergers.
  3. A friend of mine recommends Path of Tea on West Alabama.
  4. Unfortunately, Techcrunch isn't too excited: Continental Takes A Crippled Approach to WiFi in the Sky
  5. I'll just note that a common mistake of first-time home buyers is buying too much space - much more than they need. A home is not just an investment, but a regular, real cost - not just for the building and land, but the maintenance and utilities. Paying for unused space is just waste. So, while townhomes can be an attractive investment, they probably have a lot more space than you need (3+ bedrooms). An efficiency or 1 bedroom loft might be a better overall investment if you fully cost it out, although certainly beware of the annoying maintenance fees. Also, in general, I think you'll have a better return-on-investment buying used rather than new construction - loft or townhome. The new construction premium is high and tends to depreciate rapidly (just like the first year of a new car).
  6. I usually pick the best coupon deal I can find here http://www.airportdiscountparking.com/ or here http://www.longtermparking.com/texas.htm or here http://www.airportparkingreservations.com The shuttles all seem to be pretty prompt. These guys were great with the coupon last time - very affordable and fast shuttle service: http://www.fastparkandrelax.com/fprelax/houston.aspx
  7. I think traditional single-family-home residential zoning in most cities would prevent the types of townhome projects we see in unzoned Houston, where an old, small house without deed restrictions can be demolished and replaced with 3+ tall, thin townhomes.
  8. I know you said "no seafood," but my favorite is Saltwater Grill across from the Opera House. Does have non-seafood entrees, including pasta dishes. Highly reviewed at CitySearch.
  9. I'll defend their Spicy Flatbread Chicken Sandwich. Quite tasty, esp. with mashed sweet potatoes instead of fries. And the chocolate chip cookies are amazing. Going there for lunch today, as a matter of fact... Others I've been with seem happy. I think Forbes had an article once on their sophisticated kitchen setup - "like Toyota manufacturing" - that allowed them to have such an extensive menu and maintain ingredient inventories and quality.
  10. I think the new collaborative research center building with Rice - at the corner of University and Main - is supposed to have a large first-floor food court. This press release says "10,000 square feet of retail space for a restaurant and shops". OK, here's more. You know, I think I remember reading something once about a mega-food-court in the works for the TMC, with a more upscale sit-down restaurant on top. Can't remember where I saw it though.
  11. Ahh, I get it now. I think they're ranking based on square footage - not jobs. And, of course, with all the space for patients, medical facilities will tend to have a higher ratio of sq.ft per job than a typical cluster of office buildings.
  12. I have tried fish tacos in many, many places - including Southern California - and nobody beats Berryhill's Fried Fish Tacos. A friend from San Diego agreed. The Houston Chronicle Ultimate Houston guide also agrees. Half price on Mondays ($2 instead of $4). Locations all over town. If you want to try something a little different sometime, try a customized beer-battered fried fish burrito at Mission Burrito. Start with Spanish rice, but no beans, IMHO. Mix in a little creamy jalapeno ranch, corn, and some queso... muy bueno.
  13. Here's the Fox News version of the story. 7 years 30,000 new jobs on top of the 73,000 already there Doubling the land area $7 billion investment Unfortunately, if you check out this ranking of CBDs on p.11, with 103,000, it looks like it would ranked around #13 - similar to Minneapolis or Cleveland. And that's without considering non-central business districts, like Uptown/Galleria, which is still larger. Still very impressive. Hope the LRT picks up a lot of that, because I'm pretty sure the street grid can't handle it. Here's a post I did a while back, showing the combined job growth forecast for our core triangle - downtown + uptown + Greenway + TMC - would put us just behind NYC and Chicago if it were considered a single CBD.
  14. Atlanta metro 2030 population forecast is 7 million (if that link has trouble loading, Google cache here) Houston metro 2030 population forecast is 8 million That's actually a widening of the current population difference.
  15. Yes, although I was looking at presentations I had saved on my hard drive - possibly slightly dated vs. what's on the web site now. The chart I looked at had data from asking the question in 2005.
  16. As with every city, some of both, although if you look at Dr. Klineberg's Houston Area Survey polling data, 78% say Houston is a better place to live than most metros, and only 2.5% think poorly of it - so we're doing pretty well.
  17. I would agree DFW has a more diverse economy, but that actually makes them *less* volatile, and it doesn't necessarily mean they grow faster. It's like owning the S&P500 index instead of a few hot stocks. Energy will definitely be the driver in Houston, although the port, med center, and NASA help balance it out. As long as energy is hotter than the broad economy (and it definitely is right now, and seems like it will be for the foreseeable future), Houston will be hotter than Dallas. If you look at the top tier US cities, many were built on one or two major industry clusters that drove them to that level: finance and NYC, tech and SF/SV, entertainment and LA, govt and DC, universities and Boston, autos and Detroit (which is falling hard now), mfg/trade and Chicago. Relatively fewer cities reach that level that are broadly diversified, like Dallas and Atlanta. Why would that be the case? Generally, as cities grow, the problems of growth get more and more overwhelming, like traffic, schools, infrastructure, taxes, and expensive housing. In cluster cities, employees and companies put up with it because they "have to be" where the action is in their industry. But if that cluster reason doesn't exist that "forces" them to be there (i.e. outweighs the problems), then growth will level off or potentially even reverse. Almost no companies "have" to be in Dallas or Atlanta. Those cities will continue to grow only as long as they are attractive places - their benefits (esp. the airports and affordable housing) outweigh their problems. I think the Metroplex is definitely still very attractive and doing well and will do so for a long time to come. I believe Atlanta is just starting to falter slightly (mainly from inadequate road infrastructure), and starting to lose growth to places like Charlotte in North Carolina.
  18. Hmmm. Note the top and bottom lines on this graph. Also note the diverging slopes of the two lines... http://www.dallasfed.org/research/swe/2007/swe0702g.cfm
  19. I figured out the discrepancy and posted the explanation on my blog: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2007...-confusion.html
  20. Tokyohana on the 59 feeder near Greenway Plaza is somewhat similar to Benihana, although it also offers a sushi bar. Azuma on Kirby near the Rice Village has very nice Japanese decor and excellent sushi. I have not seen tatami mats at either, but they do seem to have special event rooms or areas that may offer them.
  21. Christof of the Intermodality blog and I had a short email conversation about this we thought we'd pass along, for what it's worth: Christof: This case seems like a ridiculous extreme, but there is a fundamental tradeoff here: would you rather have a fast trip where the bus is often late because of the unpredictability of traffic, or a slow trip where the bus is always on time? In a Houston summer, at a bus stop without a shelter, people might prefer the latter. Two ways to get beyond that: reserved guideway (LRT or BRT) or buses so frequent that schedules are irrelevant. The former option also adds speed and makes trip times more predictable; the latter merely means you won't need to wait long no matter how the bus is running. Tory: I can see that in general, but is traffic really that much of an issue between UH and HCC? It seems like the schedules should be tight in areas that don't have congestion issues. If a route has congestion/unpredictability along a portion of it, put the timeout/pad at the end of the congested portion, so the next uncongested segment can run fast and tight. Christof: I agree. That's why I said this case seems like an extreme. METRO's relatively new GPS technology should let them collect much more detailed information on the actual running times of buses and adjust schedules accordingly, figuring out where and when the unpredictability is. That could also lead to route structures which minimize those problems.
  22. Lack of zoning means that developers build multi-family apartments pretty much wherever there is demand. That allows in more rental households, thus diluting the home-ownership rate. Most other cities, whether through zoning, permitting, or other means, generally try to limit apartment development, which often need higher city services (police, fire, schools, sewer, water, road use, etc.) relative to property taxes than single-family homes. Neighborhoods tend to fight them too.
  23. Atlanta is far enough inland that anything that might hit it would be seriously downgraded to a strong storm by the time it got there. Earthquakes that are serious enough to really matter are extremely rare - a given city may go decades between them. And they're over in an instant. Houston had Allison, Katrina (almost - potential tracks included us up until a couple of days before landfall), and Rita in the span of a few years. Even if they end up missing us - like Rita - the city is essentially frozen for a week or so around it. Imagine the evacuation if the city were filled with athletes, spectators, and the media. What a disaster that would be, even if the storm didn't end up hitting us. One potential option, if the Olympics would allow it, would be to hold them in May, before the official start of hurricane season on June 1. But I've heard they strongly prefer later in the summer.
  24. The hurricane risk is a very good point, and a deal-killer all by itself. An event the size and complexity of the Olympics simply cannot reschedule itself around a Katrina or Rita or Allison type event - or really even a basic tropical storm for that matter.
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