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Everything posted by ToryGattis

  1. I'm as big a fan of Houston as they come, but honestly, don't see this as realistic or a good fit. Houston has a lot of pros and cons mentioned in this thread, but I think the ultimate deal killer is that no one wants to compete with energy companies for talent (both white and blue collar) if oil spikes back up towards $100/barrel (unlikely, but possible). DFW, Austin, and Denver have the inside track (IMHO).
  2. With 8 foot ceilings, I can't see how it could be any luxury brand hotel.
  3. They covered it last month: http://www.chron.com/business/article/United-IAH-show-off-new-Terminal-C-North-10922067.php
  4. I think there's a character difference between residential high rises in Midtown (still very few even proposed) and giant Class A office towers.
  5. My new blog post on this topic: Defending the Pierce Elevated and other thoughts on TXDoT's plans http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2016/04/defending-pierce-elevated-and-other.html
  6. I think the simple answer from a Houston perspective is: more is better. UT is going to deploy the resources from that $25 billion endowment somewhere in the state - why not try to maximize the amount coming to Houston? UH should negotiate a no faculty poaching agreement and Big 12 entry.
  7. My new favorites in Midtown (or nearby) are Izakaya, Dogarz Doner, Pizarro's Pizza, Piola Pizza, Pappa Charlies BBQ, Jackson St. BBQ (both of those are downtown), and Weights + Measures. Yelp can give you the details and best items at each.
  8. Oh, I think you might be misunderstanding me. I actually support both, but I understand why the landowners fight the HSR and not the road. Put simply, they directly benefit from using the road, and they don't from the HSR as long as there are no intermediate stops. The HSR is pure cutting-their-land-in-half inconvenience for them (although the counties will get increased property taxes). I think the HSR would be smart to negotiate the intermediate counties helping fund some intermediate stops for a few daily non-express/local-stop trains that would run each day. It would require short bypass tracks at the stops so the express Houston-Dallas trains could blow past them, but it might substantially ease the opposition.
  9. Well, that's the difference between a nice road you can use yourself and a train just blowing through your land without a stop...
  10. I was thinking of something similar, but potentially less expensive: full double deck, but the lower deck would be a trench like 59 east of Shepherd. The upper deck would be a cap on it, with plenty of room for air gaps as needed for ventilation. And it solves the problem of lanes elevated high in the air (which seems to upset all the adjacent people). The tricky part would be the bayou, of course. It may have to be a tunnel or elevated for just that portion.
  11. It is one of my favorite dishes, and I have had amazing versions at restaurants in both northern and southern California, but haven't been able to find a real standout in Houston, including at highly touted Himalaya. Suggestions?...
  12. Absolutely, on all counts. Note that the homes facing the Katy were in the zoned villages along there.
  13. Carbon dioxide is involved with climate change, but it is absolutely *not* a pollutant that is directly harmful to humans (we breathe it in and out perfectly naturally). The pollution buffer being discussed here is for other tailpipe emissions and especially particulates (mostly from diesels).
  14. Based on my experience driving around Houston and LA/OC - your mileage may vary in other cities. NE tree buffers are nice too, but I don't think they tend to be as wide of an air pollution buffer as a feeder + commercial development (I could be wrong, it's been a long time since I drove NE freeways. I don't remember how thick the tree buffer is, but would be surprised if it's hundreds of feet).
  15. I'm just going to flat out disagree with that. A few backside delivery trucks during the business day don't make that much noise (and almost none at night) - certainly compared to the continuous rumble of freeway traffic, 18-wheeler air-brakes, or firetruck and police sirens screaming by. And the benefits of the air pollution buffer far outweigh any noise.
  16. Usually there is, but I agree it's not ideal when housing is close to the freeway. In CA, that is very common. In Houston, it's pretty uncommon. The feeder provides some spacing, and the usual commercial development provides even more in most cases. The most valuable use of land along a feeder is almost always commercial. If residential is there, it's often because of zoning (in places outside of Houston, like Bellaire with 610) or deed restrictions.
  17. I have not been out to Cinco Ranch, so I can't comment. I know they decided to do the GP without feeders, mainly for aesthetic reasons (they wanted a "nature drive" like a lot of northeast freeways), but I'm sure it also saved plenty of money (180 miles of feeders is substantial) and increases revenue by forcing people to pay the tolls rather than plug along the feeder (like routinely happens along Beltway 8).
  18. The buffer is the combination of feeder lanes plus the commercial development along the feeder, usually a big parking lot combined with a big box store or strip center (or office towers). The residential ends up at least a couple hundred feet from the freeway, which gets outside the worst of the pollution plume.
  19. I'll second all of that based on my time in OC. I also feel bad for all the houses pressed up close to the freeway in OC and CA in general. Yes, they may have a sound wall, but they're still getting the air pollution. One of my earliest blog posts was on the benefits of frontage roads, and one of the biggest is a commercial noise and pollution buffer zone between freeways and residential areas. That also makes expansions much easier with less opposition. Think about almost all of Houston's big fights over freeway projects, and it's where they go through residential areas (usually without feeders - like the 59 trench and 45N by the Heights). And then frontage roads also enable tons of businesses to get visibility they otherwise couldn't afford and they just make navigation a whole lot easier. Good backup alternative for construction and accident closures as well. They may not be beautiful, but they're incredibly functional. http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2005/08/sprawl-and-benefits-of-frontage-roads.html
  20. The pride is about the opportunity that highways provide the American dream of homeownership in a good neighborhood with good schools for millions of people. I agree it's no great shakes aesthetically, but that doesn't mean it's not aspirational for most families. Not my scene either, which is why I live in a Midtown midrise. The key is choice. If you want to live in density by the light rail, by all means do.
  21. Well, of course, this argument can be used for anything - not just transportation - like, say, housing. People pay too much for housing, so maybe the government should build nice, affordable, concrete apartment towers for all of us to live in? (a la the Eastern Bloc) Government should invest the fewest taxpayer dollars to create the most benefit. In the case of transportation, that turned out to be roads - about the simplest way government can provide mass mobility (it is just an asphalt strip, after all). Can't afford the car to run on the road? Then government provides a subsidized bus network as an alternative. Bonus: the bus gets to use the transportation infrastructure network the government already built! (as opposed to creating a new one from scratch, like, say, a transit rail network) That's great infrastructure utilization. In any case, the car is still cheaper than rail. See http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2010/03/real-future-of-transportation.html "Automobiles continue to maintain a huge cost advantage over passenger rail. Counting both subsidies and personal costs, Americans spend less than 25 cents a passenger mile on autos, nearly 60 cents a passenger mile on Amtrak, and more than 90 cents a passenger mile on urban transit. No wonder 85% of all our passenger travel is by automobile." and another one: Transport Costs Per Passenger Milehttp://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=88
  22. Compare the taxpayer cost per person-mile moved - it's no contest. Recent Chronicle story said the new Tomball tollway is attracting twice the usage they predicted - freeways are popular, even tolled ones (which pay for themselves, unlike any rail project).
  23. Rail?! Rail in general tends to be a bad cost-benefit proposition, but why would you ever consider building one when one *already exists* a mile to the west perfectly connecting the Med Center and Downtown? There *might* be a good argument for extending the existing line south (although I doubt it), but there's no universe where it makes sense to build a parallel line!
  24. Here's Nancy's more thorough/complete article on the project (vs. the original blog post) Tower planned next to historic Midtown mansion http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/columnists/sarnoff/article/Tower-planned-next-to-historic-Midtown-mansion-6596935.php?t=5bfc911c78438d9cbb&cmpid=email-premium
  25. Oh, I don't have a problem with mixed use near P&R stations. That's great if the market demands it. But I don't think that's a criteria for judging a system, since I think most of the people that would want to live in dense mixed-use would pick something along the light rail in the core rather than a remote suburban P&R. But to the extent it's happening, great!
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