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Everything posted by Angostura

  1. If you look at traditional, fine-grained neighborhoods, be they medieval towns in Europe or 19th century US cities, they were largely built before sufficient financing was available to build immediately to a finished state, let alone develop an entire block. You would buy a small plot, maybe build a small building (usually with a facade right on the street), and add incrementally over time. This is virtually unheard-of now.
  2. Interesting that they'll have one kitchen, but two menus and two wine lists, and two liquor licenses, so as to be able to both sell spirits for on-premise consumption and wine for off-premise consumption. Having seen similar ventures in the past, I expect the off-premise business will struggle to justify its square footage, and gradually atrophy (though I hope I'm wrong). If the over-under on the number of concepts operating in this space in 24 months were set at 1.5, I'd take the under.
  3. This is a problem common to former industrial sites, since the parcels are very large. See also: I-10 from Heights to Taylor. The quality of an urban environment is inversely proportional to the average size of each developed parcel. You could solve this by having someone buy the land, run some streets and utilities through it, and sell off small plots to individual developers/builders. This happens a lot in exurbia, where a developer buys land for essentially nothing, sets up a MUD, plats out a subdivision and sells of individual plots. In areas where large plots of land are already expensive, it's hard to add enough value to make that approach economically attractive to the developer. It's not unheard of, but the place needs to be either already integrated into an existing urban context, or a destination on its own. Unfortunately, given the availability of financing to large developers, small plots rarely have more value per s.f. than large ones.
  4. From here: ...though you're probably right about the payment terms.
  5. The on-street bike lanes are in the bike plan, but in the "long term vision" layer of the map.
  6. I think there's too much focus on making a few places slightly less shitty for the rare pedestrians who might find themselves there despite a complete lack of pedestrian-oriented buildings. I'd rather see us build a handful of truly great pedestrian-focused (even pedestian-only) places in areas that have the bones for it, like the Main St corridor.
  7. The complete streets mindset generally requires a buffer between sidewalk and traffic. In this case, traffic on main is generally very slow-moving, so it probably doesn't need to be this wide. Or, in this case, since driving on Main is so pointless anyway, you could just remove all distinction between traffic lane and sidewalk, and restrict Main to deliveries only from Commerce to Wheeler.
  8. Basically, yes. HCSA built and owns the stadium, and leases it to the Astros, who retain substantially all revenue generated inside, including naming rights and non-baseball events. In return, they pay a few million dollars a year in rent (now $8.1M, with the lease extension). The team also pays for certain stadium improvements. BTW, an annuity purchased with the $178M naming rights fee paid by Coca Cola would more than pay for the team's lease costs over the 28-year term of the naming rights deal.
  9. AFAIK, the Astros retain all revenue from concessions at MMP, and the agreement with Aramark is with the team, not HCSA. It's important to remember: much like Ticketmaster, the ticket-buying fan is not Aramark's customer, and much like Ticketmaster, Aramark is very good at delivering value to their ACTUAL customers, the venue operators.
  10. Up until recently, the approach had been to surround stadiums with nothing but acres of parking, so people had no choice but to pay $18 for a beer inside the venue. This approach is... better.
  11. Stuyvesant Town is towers-in-a-park, single-use residential, whereas this site plan has more street-level mixed-use urbanism.
  12. This is true, to an extent. Most urban neighborhoods in which most people live their day-to-day lives without driving only have GFR on a small fraction of total street frontage (prob <20%), and mostly concentrated on specific retail corridors. The most desirable buildings in these neighborhoods tend to be on side streets a block or two off of these corridors: close to, but not right on top of, retail activity.
  13. IIRC, parking in the structure is free for two hours, even without validation. But now that the surface spots in front of the stores are metered from the first minute, those spots are much more likely to be available. (Funny how that works)
  14. The amount of retail space that results in a 200-space parking requirement is over 30,000 sf. That's a pretty big development. Ideally, we'd be able to have structured parking (instead of surface parking) AND smaller, more fine-grained retail development. The only way to get there is to decouple parking provision from retail development and price on-street parking appropriately (or otherwise limit its supply by, say, limiting it to one side of the street). Eliminating parking minimums wouldn't result in spec garages being built overnight. Houston currently has 30 parking spaces for every car. There's plenty of parking, it's just poorly allocated. The likely first step would be for current business owners with off-street lots to allow non-customers to park in their lots (for a fee), since they could do this without risking losing their occupancy permit. That would establish a market for parking so that the price is closer to the cost of providing it. Eventually you would arrive at a level of commercial density that would justify standalone parking structures, but at that point the number of spaces needed per 1000 sf of retail space would probably be lower than current requirements, since having a non-zero price for parking tends to result in less of it being consumed.
  15. Sorry to jump into this a week late, but.. yes? Obviously eliminating parking minimums doesn't eliminate parking. One of the benefits of eliminating parking minimums is that you decoupling parking provision from commercial development. For small numbers of spaces, structured parking is very expensive (per-space), so even in places with high land values, parking tends to be in surface lots. But while it's very difficult for individual small-scale developments to provide structured parking, lots of small retail developments can provide enough scale to justify it, so someone can make money by providing it. This allows for more dense development than would be possible otherwise, even if the total number of spaces is no different than would be required currently. And since density is upstream of mode-shift, having lots of (structured) parking is probably a necessary step on the path to needing less parking in the future.
  16. I think cities should preserve a certain (small) number of these kinds of buildings so we don't forget just how ugly they are, lest someone someday decide it's a good idea to build in this style again.
  17. Something like 3300 parking spaces. Seems like a lot. Looks like they're not leveraging the mix of uses in the parking calculation.
  18. I suspect the reason for the delay was to make sure it passed once it came up. They've carved out the eastern half of Midtown (the area originally extended to 59), which was probably the price for someone's support.
  19. Expansion to the Market Based Parking area (the parts of the city exempt from parking minimums) is on the city council agenda for next week.
  20. I think the reason the setback requirements haven't been revised/eliminated is so that the Planning Department can use the variance process to extract improvements to the pedestrian realm. A very high percentage of setback variances get approved, almost always accompanied by wider sidewalks, landscape buffers, etc. not otherwise required. There are two kinds of people: those who think it's a question of WHETHER homes will be built, and those with understand it's a question of WHERE. In places where building activity is well-controlled, density prevention results in sprawl. In places where building isn't well-controlled, it results in favelas and shantytowns. (BTW, aside from a lack of adequate wastewater infrastructure, favelas are an urbanists wet dream: low-rise, high-density, mixed use development; zero setbacks, narrow streets, and entirely pedestrian oriented.)
  21. The most predictable majority in American local politics is incumbent residents opposing any new development with a density higher than their current home.
  22. This will look great until the back lights start burning out. It doesn't appear to be designed for easy maintenance.
  23. It all comes down to (a) land costs and (b) what market segment these are aimed at. This project probably has a floor area ratio (total square footage divided by total land area) of 2-3x a typical TH project. That makes a lot less difference at a land cost $30/sf than it does at $100/sf. In this neighborhood, at an FAR of, say, 4.0, even with higher construction costs (steel or concrete vs wood frame, elevators, etc.), it should be possible to hit a price point similar to that of townhouse at FAR of 1.5. In cities with very high land values, townhouses are prohibitively expensive for all but the highest end of the market. Again, depends on the target market. A building without that many amenities and limited common areas can be pretty competitive. Recall that the condo fee is paying for lights, climate control and maintenance of the exterior and common areas (including elevators), usually water and sewer, and a significant chunk of your homeowner's insurance costs. And your utility bills will generally be lower on a per-sf basis, since these buildings tend to be more thermally efficient than standalone houses. If you actually compare apples to apples, it's not that different. That said, I'd expect these to be marketed at a much higher price than the current Houston TH market.
  24. A lot of what was built in the 70s and 80s was built where and how it was built due to the sewer moratorium in force at the time. From 1974, the by-right limit on density for restricted areas (essentially all of the inner loop) was 15,000 sf/acre commercial, 7 DU/acre residential. Anything larger needed administrative review and assembly of sewer rights. As a result, a lot of development got pushed west, and a lot of what was built inside the loop was built at a much lower density than would otherwise make sense. As those properties are getting to an age where they must be either re-habbed or demo'd, we are just now starting to unwind a lot of that mal-investment. This article from 1982 makes for an interesting read on the subject.
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