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Everything posted by ToryGattis

  1. It is true they have better marketing talent and branding up there, but there's another factor: no company outside of the energy industry wants to compete with energy companies to attract and hold talent. The energy companies can always overpay to get the talent they want. This was also part of why Toyota put their truck plant in San Antonio instead of Houston (although I'm sure the Eagle Ford shale boom is giving them fits now holding on to workers at affordable salaries). It makes Dallas a safer bet for non-energy companies. I tend to think of it as tech goes to Austin, energy goes to Houston, and everybody else goes to DFW.
  2. Welcome to Houston :-) Here are a few links to get you started. Technically it's called Uptown, and it contains the Galleria, but most locals do just call it the Galleria area. Good central part of town to be in with every kind of shopping and dining you can imagine, but the traffic can be quite bad, both on the freeways and the surface streets. Check out Google Maps before you go places and turn on their traffic color-coding, which includes surface streets. You'll quickly learn which ones to avoid at which hours. Good luck! http://www.uptown-houston.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uptown_Houston http://www.visithoustontexas.com/travel-tools/houston-neighborhoods/galleria-uptown/ http://www.uptownparkhouston.com/
  3. Yep, and we've also had big fights over the 59 trench (residential area) and now that bottleneck on 45N in the Heights. On the other hand, there's been almost no resistance to the 290 project, which is completely lined with commercial.
  4. Feeders are easier to navigate, the commercial strip along them provides an air pollution buffer zone from residential areas, and it makes it much easier to widen the freeway in the future. It's when freeways go through residential areas with those walls that pushback happens against widening (it essentially becomes politically impossible), and you're exposing all those houses to air pollution (wall or no). And it's certainly no more attractive to drive down a freeway with giant concrete walls on each side (see California). I'd rather be able to see the dynamic vibrancy of what's going on in the commercial strip - new restaurants and stores or even signs with promotions for those stores. It makes the "discovery" process for places so much easier. More in my blog post here: Sprawl and the benefits of frontage roads http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2005/08/sprawl-and-benefits-of-frontage-roads.html
  5. Piola, an actual chain out of Italy with a Midtown location here
  6. Same here. If somebody understands how this works, please explain. Thanks.
  7. Can somebody explain how this works? I understand how to get a transit routing between any two points on Google Maps. It will give me multiple options. Is it simply that the times shown for the soonest routings represent real time data? Is there any way to actually show the exact location of a bus on the map in real-time?
  8. Can anybody name a tropical or subtropical city essentially at sea-level with a water table just a few feet below ground that has successfully built subways?
  9. That incentive applies to any residential, so it's the same for the developer whether it's a rental apt or owner condo.
  10. Fair point, but think of it this way: a condo tower developer downtown is going to have to pay much more for the land (because it could be used for a Class A office tower) and have obstructed views, and have to compete with towers popping up all over inside the loop with much cheaper land and no obstructed views. Construction costs are essentially the same. They will be at a pretty big cost and amenity disadvantage unless the person really wants to be able to walk out their door around downtown - and I'm guessing that's just not a large enough market of people right now. Or, more accurately, there is a group of people that want that, but they're rootless mobile single 20-somethings that are more renters than owners. But maybe the downtown amenities are close to a tipping point for older, more mature buyers?
  11. An alternative to consider: midrise Rise Lofts at 2000 Bagby in Midtown, but on the very edge of downtown. Condos for sale with unobstructed views in a very walkable part of Midtown. I'm not an expert, but I suspect the lack of condos downtown is probably somewhat related to the lack of unobstructed views because of all the tall buildings around. When people buy into a high-rise, the view is a big part of what they're buying. People want to be downtown for the location - proximity to job - and jobs can change quickly, so the market is much deeper for renting than owning. There's also the corporate rental market.
  12. Generally speaking, that is true. Non-energy companies don't want to compete with cash-rich energy companies for talent. DFW also doesn't have the hurricane risk.
  13. Oh, and I don't think it has anything to do with the old cistern, which is on the opposite side of the bayou next to the skatepark.
  14. Yes, it does still exist. I recently took the bayou Segway tour downtown, and when we were stopped on the hill next to the Jamail skatepark, we could see it in the distance. I wanted to look at it up close but did not get over there. I've been in Houston a very long time and along that part of the bayou multiple times and never noticed it before. Maybe the new work along the bayou cleared out plants or earth that was blocking it from view?
  15. So as Houston's sustained economic boom leads to rapidly increasing traffic congestion, we're going to *discourage* people switching to the Park and Rides?!?! How much sense does that make?! This is an incentives problem. Metro is getting too much demand on the Park and Rides and can't move fast enough to meet it, so they're going to discourage demand with parking fees and keep cars on the freeways at rush hour that would otherwise use transit. Does anybody else think this is a really bad idea? The Mayor and County Judge need to represent the interests of the city as a whole and put pressure on the METRO board to make Park and Rides as affordable as possible and ramp up to meet that demand.
  16. I didn't say reliability, I said safety. Houston gets torrential downpours and street flooding in ways cities like London don't. We also have very shifty clay soils and aggressive root systems (welcome to a subtropical climate). I'm not saying it's impossible - I'm just saying it has to be done very, very carefully, and that's expensive.
  17. Obviously the big reason for not burying the power lines is cost, and I think a big driver of that is *safety* in a city that is *routinely under water* during heavy rains. As you may remember boys and girls, water and electricity do not mix. All you need is one tiny break in the insulation (say, from some oak tree roots getting in among the buried power lines), and then standing water on top, and you have a nice little electrified death trap to anyone splashing through that puddle. Not good. Keeping the power lines 20+ feet in the air seems like the better call - quite a bit harder for standing water to get up there.
  18. The intrepid might start pioneering the near northside where the new rail line opened. I expect that as the lower end apartment complexes in Montrose are torn down and replaced with more upscale units, the only affordable housing left in Montrose will be garage apartments. Not sure what the stock of those is.
  19. I agree. I've been worried that the Exxon campus is the canary in the coal mine. Rush hour traffic has gotten so bad they're looking at getting out of the core for suburban campuses. I've always said Houston needs to step it up with a more comprehensive network of HOT lanes and express bus services to all of the core job centers, or we could end up like stagnant downtown Dallas. Houston has been lucky to have thriving suburbs all around it with most of the jobs in the core. If that switches to a thriving arc of jobs and residents from Sugar Land to the Energy Corridor to The Woodlands, the core and east of Houston will suffer, just like it has in Dallas vs. their northwestern suburbs.
  20. That's a good question. I'm not exactly sure how they track it.
  21. I applaud them for making adjustments to keep the lanes flowing, but am still opposed to HOV-only hours. What that means is that in the span of one minute you can go from a ~$7 charge to a $150+ ticket. Instead, they should just have very high tolls during those hours. If they need to make the toll $20+ during the peak hour, so be it - so long as they at least still have the option to use it if they need it, or they won't get slammed if they miss the window by a couple of minutes.
  22. They've got a very tall crane removing what I assume were two giant water tanks on the roof right now. Still, overall seems like the slowest... demo... ever...
  23. I can't predict what the gambling industry will do, but I think Vegas will always thrive as a retirement mecca for Californians. They can cash out of their massively overpriced CA home, buy a much cheaper one in Vegas, and bank the spread for retirement - all while still remaining within a day's drive of their kids and grandkids (Phoenix has the same appeal). Also no income tax in Nevada.
  24. Community survey if you'd like to influence what they do with the block park: http://superblockpark.metroquest.com/
  25. So they can negotiate a better price when they buy. If an owner knows Rice is buying, they will be more intransigent on price.
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