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  1. They are setting forms in place for a new slab foundation at the Lucky Burger site.
  2. During a neighborhood meeting on proposed capital improvements in 2007, I was told that no improvements would be made on Richmond sidewalks since the rail improvements would be done by 2012. Even then we knew it would be 2014 at the earliest. Yet, temporary improvements are always happening on roadways and bridges to ensure mobility. Business owners have also not been held accountable for the maintenance of their sidewalks and properties.
  3. Land is being cleared on the North side Richmond between Hazard and Woodhead, including the former Shell station and at least one of the older brick houses/apartments along the block. It looks like King Cole is still open, however. The block will be filled with a new self-storage facility. Further down and across the street, the last of the old Lucky Burger building at Richmond and Mandell has been flattened, and is being hauled off in a dumpster (probably to add 6 more parking spots for Rev-El-Ry). Except in front of the new apartments, narrow broken cobblestone sidewalks and mud make much of the street barely walkable. Dunlavy between Richmond and the HEB is a crater-filled mess, crowded with cars and pedestrians driven from the adjacent broken and muddy water-filled sidewalks. I had such hopes a decade ago that one day Richmond would become a walkable street with pedestrian-friendly businesses, but even if the infrastructure gets fixed some day there will be fewer actual destinations to walk to.
  4. Ongoing work this week on the block at St. Joseph and San Jacinto (#22 on the development list), apparently earlier than 4th quarter start. Per HBJ :
  5. Near the Montrose area there are 2 properties that I pass frequently that at first passing seem to blend in with the natural development and use cycles of the area, but over months and years I notice that they are not what they seem. My first 2 nominations for Potemkin Properties are: West Dallas and Montrose - the Aga Khan property was fenced off a couple of years ago, and inside was built an apparent sand volleyball court along with other playing fields - since then I have noticed that the gates are never opened, the fields are never used - I noticed that the trash cans inside are always filled to about the same level.1700 block of North Blvd - a double lot has been fenced, unfenced, portapotties added and removed, staked and unstaked, signed as work areas, signs removed, and at least 4 different times temporary style structures (stucco, brick, roof style etc) have been added and removed. I suspect that the West Gray property has added "playing fields" as some way of scamming or reducing their tax burden. (It sure would have been better if they would have rebuilt the crappy sidewalk along Montrose instead). I have wondered if the North Blvd property hasn't been some part of a financing scam that requires "work" to be ongoing in order to collect some money. Not sure why else there would be so many starts and stops on "building" (I also note that one of the first things all "real" builders do is install a barrier on the median to prevent trucks from backing onto the median and defacing it - there has never been one added at any time at this property). Anyone else have any candidates, or perhaps can correct my observations?
  6. Without a radical redesign, even with the Kirby Collection, Kirby will never be pedestrian friendly. I have taken walks down Kirby (I am usually the only pedestrian for several blocks), and have tried riding a bike down Kirby. Forget the bike, as traffic was too heavy to share the road, and I ended up riding on the sidewalk. (I have passed bicyclists on Alabama in my car, and they are very difficult to see or pass due to lane width and visibility). There are too many lanes of cars to comfortably walk or ride between 59 and Westheimer. The sidewalks feel too narrow and close to whizzing traffic and parking lots, plus there are many obstructions along the way. Dips and rises along the way due to driveways, and trees are in the path. On one Saturday I had to dodge at least 3 cars while walking on the sidewalk due to drivers pulling out from the lots straight into the sidewalk area without looking both ways. The presence of separate parking lots for each business discourages pedestrians since there is no need to walk, and there is really little to walk to as there is nothing between most lots. The setback of the businesses at Kirby and Alabama is also an issue as pedestrians must walk thru a sea of cars, on one side the parking lots' traffic, and the other side multiple lanes of vehicles on Kirby. Also the lack of street side storefront business entrances is an issue, since there is little to walk to other than walking around to a parking lot entrance. Kirby will not be a good pedestrian street unless there is traffic calming introduced by reducing the number of traffic lanes, providing better sidewalk design that is pedestrian friendly, lowering the speed limits, removing the driveways on Kirby, and increasing storefront and store entrance density on Kirby. I have heard Kirby called the new Post Oak, which his about right since that is not pedestrian friendly either. That said, I like the changes and new things on Kirby, but even with the hundreds of new apartments added few people actually walk at any given time of day.
  7. Since we are re-imagining the University line, how about this: In addition to a "local" Richmond section of the line with many stops, also include an "express" section that utilizes the existing HOV lanes between Kirby and Main Street - The existing HOV ROW is about 2.5 to 3 lanes wide (due to merging traffic lanes) plus a shoulder lane in the main traffic lanes provide about 40 to 45 feet between the main lanes at a minimum. The width of the double rail lines on Fannin in the Med Center is about 25 to 30 feet, so depending on how these rail and lanes are structured it is possible to maintain 2 rails plus 1 HOV lane. Wherever the Westpark to Richmond split occurs (Cummins), the bridge crossing can include a spur that runs down the center of the Fwy, with no additional stops until Wheeler Station. The existing exit to Main Street at Wentworth or a new rail only bridge at Boldgett can be created to reconnect to Richmond at Main Street. There was a proposal from the Culberson camp to use some of the FWY ROW in lieu of Richmond, but the difference here is that the key would be preserving local service - to connect Montrose, Museum, UST, Shepherd, and Kirby - but also maintain the HOV; total number of traffic lanes; no impact to homes, neighborhoods or grade crossings; and support an express line to bypass the most heavily driven sections for those riders who want to go outside the loop. Express service could be limited to rush hour times or weekdays to minimize the cost of running parallel rail on Richmond. So, to summarize: - stick to the current Westpark/Richmond/Wheeler plan for local service - create a new "Express" lane between Main Street and Cummins rail bridge with no grade crossings - modify SW FWY HOV to support 2 rail lines (no stops) and 1 HOV from Cummins to Main - add 1 new rail-only bridge to Wentwoth or Blodgett Nonstop from Main to Cummins via Express rail at 60 mph (max speed of rail cars is documented at 66) is 3 minutes. That would certainly gain the attention of the drivers sitting still on the SW FWY and perhaps gain a few more rail riders. The express service could even be developed as a phase 1 of Richmond service, since much of the infrastructure is already there, and few if any utilities need to be relocated.
  8. Regarding Afton Oaks: was the rail planned to eliminate several blocks of homes along a 2 lane residential street? I thought that rail was planned to run along a 4 lane bus route with a center median and eliminate no houses? I fail to see the comparison, since Montrose, Mandell Place, and Boulevard Oaks all are roughly adjacent to Richmond comparable to Afton Oaks and other than the cleaners and ice machine business these neighborhoods supported rail.
  9. One of the 2 rail plans considered as an alternate to Richmond required expanding the ROW east of Woodhead by tearing down all of the homes, apartments, and school on the north side of Vassar and Autrey, adding a grade crossing at Montrose, and removing the area by the Chelsea Market. There is only about 30 feet from the property lines to the freeway retaining wall, and this space also holds the high tension power poles, local power lines, and buried fiber lines. Besides relocating the fiber, I wonder if additional piers would be required to support the freeway walls (there are already some collapsed sections inside the easement fence). Propery values of the homes on that side of the street are assessed at $55 to $75 per square foot (land value, not including developed property), so market values area about 500k and up these days for the older homes, close to 800k for newer ones along Autrey. I would expect that property values on the south side of these streets would also dramatically fall since, essentially, it would be like living on Westpark. They are currently building $1M+ homes on this side of Vassar. That's a lot of lost tax revenue. Besides all that, Richmond STILL requires to be rebuilt anyway due to its current condition. And finally, I do call Culberson a villain since he always stated that locals opposed the Richmond rail, but all of the local neighborhood and business associations inside the loop (except Afton Oaks) had publicly and vocally supported Richmond rail. The site richmondrail.org used to have the full listing of associations that supported it, but Culberson chose to ignore these and "protect" the businesses that were opposed.
  10. How about maintaining the same route but go below grade at Montrose, Shepherd, and Kirby, similar to the Holcomb/Fannin intersection. Not a true subway, but would reduce traffic impacts and increase speed by bypassing these intersections. Any re routing along the Westpark power line easement east of Kirby would require removal of many dozens of homes and businesses, essentially destroying all of Vassar Street, Autrey, Chelsea.
  11. The "For Lease" signs on the old Blockbuster at Westheimer and Montrose have been removed. Maybe here?
  12. From an email by Friends of Mandell Park: http://www.friendsofmandellpark.org/ After stagnating for several years, there is an incredible amount of work ongoing along Richmond inside the Loop.
  13. I heard from a potential commercial tenant that the buildout costs they are quoting have been outrageous, and the commercial tenants also are required to carry extra insurance to protect the residential tenants above from damages (I haven't heard that residents are required to carry any extra). The landlord has also been very particular about desiring that businesses attract only certain types of customers (aiming for a specific demographic), and tenants are required to be open during evenings and Sundays.
  14. More new construction ongoing at Richmond and Yoakum, just down the street from the Alexan, Fairmont, and Richmond Landing: http://thehansenpartners.com/properties/4306-yoakum-boulevard/ 4306 YOAKUM BOULEVARD Houston, Texas 77006 Office Property Size: 82,000 sq. ft. Built: To deliver January 2014 Floors: 6
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