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  1. It's a pretty long article: Houston's Buffalo Bayou Transformation Offers Flood-Plan Lessons to Other Cities How to Turn a Drainage Ditch Into a Regional Amenity in Era of Climate Change The growing climate change challenge facing commercial developers came into sharp focus as Hurricane Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain onto Houston two years ago, wreaking $125 billion in damage and displacing almost 30,000 people. Floodwaters rose 38 feet, destroying sections of a recently renovated public park. Urban planners and onlookers watched in astonishment as new lawns, picnic tables and shelters in Buffalo Bayou Park were swept into the flood that at one point made staircases, street signs and lamps barely visible. Mountains of sand and debris littered the park's western end. Yet within a week, joggers returned to the trails and the restaurant at the park resumed serving avocado toast to customers to raise money for flood relief funds. While it took a full year for the park to be fully restored, its basic functions were intact thanks to the $58 million revitalization that shored up the bayou’s historical role as a flood control mechanism for the city. Completed in 2015, it transformed what was basically a drainage ditch into a regional outdoor amenity with features that also serve as flood storage, according to an Urban Land Institute study. The relatively fast reopening signals how urban planning mitigated the damage of one of the costliest floods in U.S. history. And planners say it now holds broader lessons as the growing challenge to plan for the effects of climate change becomes a larger part of commercial development. “This is an issue that's facing cities across America in different ways," said Anne-Marie Lubenau, a Boston architect and director of the board behind the Rudy Bruner Award, a national urban planning accolade given to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership for its work along the bayou. "In Boston you've got coastal erosion and big snow storms; we’ve got fires in California; water is a challenge in [Houston] and this project addresses it in a bold way, but also in a way that, while it is unique and distinctive to the bayou, it also incorporates a number of design moves that can be adapted to other cities.” Houston, a city with no zoning codes that's not often held up as a bastion of urban planning, gained national attention from planners by showing how urban systems projects can create green spaces while planning for floods. The work included 2.3 miles of waterfront land along Buffalo Bayou, roughly the length of New York's Central Park, and it added 10 miles of walking and biking trails with four pedestrian bridges. The project spurred significant real estate building in the area. Since 2012, within a 1-mile radius of the project, nearly 6 million square feet of new multifamily and retail space was constructed, according to CoStar’s analysis. In total, about 50 new commercial properties were developed that, if sold today, could be worth about $1.4 billion, according to CoStar’s modeling. That's a significant return on investment for a project sparked by a partnership between the nonprofit Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the city and flood control district. It was kicked off by a $30 million gift from the Kinder Foundation, the nonprofit backed by Houston billionaire and oil baron Rich Kinder. Now, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the nonprofit behind that revitalization, is setting its sights on the east end of the bayou, which is much wider and less flood-prone, and it has long been an industrial area. The east end of the bayou turns into the Houston Ship Channel, home to 330 public and private terminals that are owned by more than 150 companies, and it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Plans for the east end are much larger and more ambitious than what was done successfully on the bayou's west side. Buffalo Bayou East is a 20-year master plan expected to cost $200 million to transform four miles of waterfront land on the bayou and create 263 acres of parks and 40 miles of trails and paths with seven pedestrian bridges. Some land use experts are calling the plan one of the most complex waterfront redevelopment projects in the country. It comes as real estate investors are increasingly concerned about how climate change would affect real estate markets and urban planners from New York to San Francisco are looking for more ways to creatively manage water in growing population centers. “For those of us not from Houston, we don't think of the city as being associated with a strong ethic of planning. This really shifts the paradigm," said Lubenau. Former Industrial Sites In Houston, the bayou is not known for its pristine beauty – the brown, opaque waters of the river are home to bass, catfish, alligator gars, a fish native to Texas with razor sharp teeth, and alligator snapping turtles, as well as the occasional alligator. The bayou often has high levels of bacteria that make it unsafe for swimming and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recommends not to eat any fish caught in the bayou. Nevertheless, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership aims to transform a patchwork of public and private land, including several abandoned industrial sites, into an area focused on the water with seven boat landings. It aims to connect the African American and Hispanic communities of the Fifth Ward and Great East neighborhoods to one another and give the historically working class neighborhoods new access to nature and 200 acres of open space. “In some ways, what’s different about it is the scale and complexity of it all,” said Cary Hirschstein, a partner at HR&A Advisors, a real estate, economic development and public policy firm. It co-led the master planning process of the proposed east project along with landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburg Associates. The project represents a unique infusion of investment into historically working class communities that typically don’t see investments of this scale, Hirschtein said in an interview. The restored industrial structures harken to other similar projects across the country, from Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx in New York City, Gas Works Park in Seattle or Steel Stacks Park near Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, which all turned industrial properties into nationally recognized community spaces. But this project would affect a much larger area than those parks in terms of acreage. “There are really incredible industrial elements that we want to celebrate. It’s going to be unlike any other place in Houston, if not the country,” Hirschtein said. The revitalization efforts focus first on 70 acres of land, including 50 acres owned by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, running along a four-mile stretch of the river. But the plan envisions a much wider area of influence and aims to give developers and investors design guidelines and a vision for renovating the eastern side of downtown. The project is expected to be a game changer for commercial real estate in the area. “The Buffalo Bayou East revitalization plans are almost certain to lead to a rise in property values, which could drive a new vision for reimagining best-and-highest-use along the eastern portion of the bayou,” said Justin Boyar, director of market analytics in Houston for CoStar, in an email. Boyar notes two Houston neighborhoods, the Second and Fifth Ward, bordering the Buffalo Bayou East project are located in opportunity zones with tax incentives likely to attract investors. “If done smartly and inclusively, this could also be an opportunity to serve and unite historically neglected working class communities,” he added. Redevelopment Interest On the east side of the bayou, private developers are already making massive changes that could further speed growth and gentrification in the hip, former industrial district called EaDo, short for East Downtown, which is similar to Deep Ellum in Dallas or East Austin, Texas, which were both noted as "Cool Streets" on Cushman & Wakefield's 2019 report on hipness. “It’s definitely growing very quickly, we have quite a few developers looking into the district trying to see which properties are available and how they can start to redevelop,” said Jessica Bacorn, executive of the East Downtown Management District, the local economic development group for the area, in an interview. Bacorn said the district has seen an “influx of development” in recent years from new restaurants to coworking spaces. “The vibe that’s in EaDo, with all the arts and culture that’s already there, I think we’re seeing a lot of developers coming in who aren’t looking to change the culture, which is one thing I love about the district and the area. They’re looking at what’s already there,” Bacorn said. Midway, the developer behind the CityCentre mixed-use project in west Houston, is preparing to break ground on a 150-acre project along the eastern end of the bayou spanning 60 city blocks in Houston’s Fifth Ward neighborhood, which also is located in an opportunity zone. The project, called East River, is being touted as walkable where urban-meets-nature oasis that “celebrates local cultures, cuisines, arts and history” with 8.9 million square feet of office, 1,440 apartments, 500,000 square feet of retail space and 390 hotel rooms, according to Midway's website. Midway’s East River site, which was pitched as a potential location to Amazon during its second headquarters search, is one of the largest contiguous blocks of land in the nation located within a mile of several major employment centers: downtown, the Houston Ship Channel, and the Texas Medical Center, said Boyar, the CoStar analyst. “Given the Buffalo Bayou East and East River plans, combined with its opportunity zone status, the area is solidly located in the path of growth for urban infill development,” Boyar said. The plans are creating some jitters about gentrification and concerns about pushing low-income communities out. At a public panel to reveal the master plan in October, three protesters disrupted the meeting shouting anti-gentrification slogans for 10 tense minutes before an audience member convinced them to leave after police were called. The protesters, who were not arrested but refused to speak to media or provide their names, argued that east end development would raise land values and price out working class communities. Anne Olson, president of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, told CoStar News it was the first time the nonprofit had heard vocal opposition to their plans in more than two years of community engagement discussions. Reclaiming Waterfront Proponents of the plan say it was drawn up in a way that aims to maintain the character and people of the community. A handful of other low-income residents at the meeting expressed support for the proposal. The issue of equity was important to the nonprofit’s master planning as the consultants for Buffalo Bayou Partnership engaged in conversations with more than a 1,000 people, said Hirschtein, the partner with HR&A who has worked on the project for four years. “There’s been a tremendous amount of investment in open space across the city and it’s tended to skew toward affluent places. This allows communities to reclaim their waterfront. These are communities that have been disconnected from their water space,” Hirschtein said in an Oct. 28 panel discussion about the partnership’s master plan. Concern about pricing residents out drove the nonprofit to think more broadly than just planning a beautiful park, he noted. “The plan has a real focus on inclusive economic development. There are elements that you don't see in a normal park master plan like providing affordable housing on-site as part of this project,” Hirschtein said. As part of the proposal, Buffalo Bayou Partnership wants to build a mixed-income residential community called Lockwood South, which would provide a combination of multifamily, single-family homes and workforce housing near Lockwood Drive. It would be next to other mixed-income communities proposed by other nonprofits with the help of disaster relief funding, said Olson, president of Buffalo Bayou Partnership, in an interview. The nonprofit is also redeveloping a 50,000-square-foot former barge terminal, warehouse and wastewater treatment facility along Navigation Boulevard into a community event center and possible incubator space for neighborhood businesses and food service at a site called Turkey Bend. Olson added that the partnership would aim to work with local entrepreneurs and small businesses with ties to the neighborhood in finding any retail tenants or assisting with event programming. “We could sell that property in a minute to some developer who could turn it into a shi-shi bar, but it is something that but we want to make into an community space for the neighborhood,” Olson said. Awaiting 500-Year Floods Beyond economic and cultural resiliency, the proposal also aims to bolster the environmental strength of the eastern side of Buffalo Bayou. Parts of the bayou are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, when the region was devastated by flooding over four days in August 2017. That’s sparked an effort to this day to determine how to make Houston’s waterfront more resilient. And planners with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership are trying to take lessons from the historic flood. To combat the impact of possible flooding, the nonprofit’s plan calls for stabilizing eroding banks, designing structures that can withstand 500-year floods and creating spaces that are easier to clean after major flooding. Those types of storms are an increasing concern, with executives naming climate change the top risk to organizational growth this year, according to KPMG’s 2019 Global CEO Outlook report. And the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urges elected leaders to make sweeping changes to combat climate change and sea level rise, such as creating dikes or seawalls, maintaining mangroves or coral reefs and raising buildings along shorelines. Scott McCready, principal of SWA Group, a key planner in the western end of the Buffalo Bayou Park, agrees that preparing for flooding is an increasingly good investment. "While we never anticipated a Hurricane Harvey scale, we did anticipate [flooding]. We had serious discussions about where to place trails, how to design docks, all that kind of thing. So we had an incredibly responsive plan and responsible design to help minimize issues," he said in the panel discussion. But the park also owes its resiliency to the public-private partnerships the Buffalo Bayou has formed with the city, the Downtown Development Authority and the Harris County Flood Control District, he said. “We have this partnership in place and that is how I define resilience,” McCready said.
  2. Yay! Mayor's office unveils plan for new bayou bridge at Montrose. Didn't reallize there was a Memorial Heights TIRZ. New high-rise, new bridge, cool! http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6145342.html
  3. Here's the best info from the article: The project has broken ground: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/columnists/sarnoff/article/High-end-office-building-underway-west-of-downtown-5920360.php#/3 http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/33/35/11/7197296/5/1366x1366.jpg http://ww3.hdnux.com/photos/33/35/11/7197298/5/1366x1366.jpg http://ww2.hdnux.com/photos/33/35/11/7197297/5/1366x1366.jpg http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/33/35/11/7197299/5/1366x1366.jpg
  4. The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects, Houston passed the following Position Statement at its regular meeting on April 10, 2007. The statement will be presented to the Mayor and City Council tomorrow, April 17, by AIA Houston member Peter Boudreaux, AIA, of Curry Boudreaux Architects. AIA Houston POSITION STATEMENT April 10, 2007 RE: The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation Site Lease / Potential Sale The American Institute of Architects, Houston does not support the sale and demolition of the buildings of the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation located at 3550 West Dallas. The Center and the City of Houston are in disagreement over the validity of the site lease, where the Center's architecturally significant facilities are located. Invalidation of the lease may result not only in the destruction of the homes of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities but also the demolition of these historically important works of Houston architecture, which anchor a visible site in heart of the city. The current buildings and prominent site comprise first-class urban design and environmentally propitious use of open land, both concepts AIA Houston supports in general. The Center buildings are important examples of the architectural trend called the New Brutalism. They occupy a significant place in the history of Houston architecture, particularly in the wake of the recent demolition of the Houston Independent School District Headquarters on Richmond Avenue. The New Brutalism was a modernist architectural movement inspired by the work of Le Corbusier that flourished internationally from the 1950s to the 1970s. New Brutalist buildings usually are formed with striking repetitive angular geometries and are often constructed of rough, unadorned poured concrete. Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubry designed the Center for the Retarded (1966), as it was originally called. The Cullen Residence Hall (1978) is the work of S.I. Morris & Associates. These architects are significant in Houston's history and these particular buildings are especially important because they represent a high standard of design in service to a community that has been traditionally under served. The buildings are in good condition and will serve their function for a significantly long future. Together Barnstone & Aubry designed several brilliant Houston buildings such as Rothko Chapel (1971); Guinan Hall, Univ. of St. Thomas (1971); Media Center, Rice University (1970); and 3811 Del Monte (1969). Both architects individually are also well-known for their work. S.I. Morris headed a string of firms (including Morris*Aubry), the successor of which is Morris Architects. The full body of Morris work touches almost all of segments of Houston architecture from the Astrodome (1965) to award-winning skyscrapers, to public buildings such as the Central Library (1975) to small houses. Transactional costs for the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation to build a new facility will take away from monies and services that this special needs population urgently requires. The Center for the Retarded, a non-profit organization, invested $7 million (1960's dollars) in the buildings, which probably cannot be recouped (in today's dollars). The $26 million estimated sale price of the land would fund only a portion of the needs for a new facility of comparable size and quality. The cost of comparable new facilities would mirror the inflation rate of the land and construction cost. Loss of this site and its buildings would entail a substantial net loss to the Center and adversely affect its ability to maintain its present level of service. Therefore, because of the outstanding architectural significance of this campus, the Board of Directors of AIA Houston recommends that the City of Houston renew its lease with the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation so that the Center may remain in its current location and continue to provide essential services to the citizens of Harris County. Hanover Square
  5. http://archservintl.com/orion_print_for_web_page.jpg Any updates on this project?
  6. http://www.savebuffalobayou.org/ Any thoughts, especially among landscape architects?
  7. What is your favorite park in Houston, and why? I really love Discovery Green and Buffalo Bayou Parks. Both of them for being catalysts for further development, and for being well-programmed spaces. I’d have to give the edge to BBP, though, because it really feels like you’re stepping into a totally different place when you take the trails near the water versus when you’re at street level! I just love how nicely planted it is- it feels very “wild” for being smack dab in the middle of some of the busiest parts of the city!
  8. we are getting an extension to the east side Buffalo Bayou from Buffalo Nature park to Hidalgo park the article doesn't have a lot more substance, but: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/transportation/article/houston-east-end-bike-path-buffalo-bayou-16464123.php
  9. Anyone have pics of the Old Farmers Market downtown? My Dad had place there in mid-50's. The Water Melon Flats (big concrete lot) backed up to Buffalo Bayou, heard stories of finding dead winos that drowned there. You can still see them (at least my last trip about 5 years ago) on 45 N to the right just before you cross over the Bayou It occupied a large area, what is now known as Market Square. It closed in 59 and most moved over to the Harris County Farmers Mkt 2520 Airline or the Market off Wayside Dr.
  10. Would anyone happen to have or know where I could find pictures of the old bridges that were located over Buffalo Bayou before 1912? There is also what looks like a pier or a deck off to the left side of the remaining bridge. It is almost completely overgrown now. What was it used for?
  11. http://www.hivehouston.org/ Project Design Completion: Fall 2010 Purchase of Land: Spring 2011 Phase I begins: Fall 2011 Phase I complete: Mid 2012 Phase II complete: Fall 2013 Phase III complete: Fall 2014 Phase IV complete: Fall 2015 Phase V (all phases) complete: Fall 2016 Culture Map article: http://www.culturema...e-than-a-dream/ I think this woman has the right idea. The people who need a walkable area the most are not the rich, it's people with less money, who have a harder time purchasing and maintaining a vehicle. If we start there, I think it will spread more rapidly to the nicer parts of town.
  12. I took a late-night stroll along Buffalo Bayou, and noticed what looked like the foundations from a bridge underneath 45. I took a photo of it from both sides of the bayou. It doesn't look too old, but I'm curious about it. The bridge(?) is directly behind the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Does anyone here have any info on this? I figured if anyone knew, it'd be you guys. 😉
  13. Is this the old Orion site? Depending upon the massing, the folks in Bayou Bend Tower might be losing downtown views if this thing lifts off!
  14. Could this go along Bayou if above high water mark or is there a easement width set back?
  15. http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/35/35/17/7721927/3/1200x920.jpg http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/columnists/sarnoff/article/Bayou-redo-lures-luxe-development-6161600.php#photo-7721927 http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/35/35/17/7721928/3/1200x920.jpg
  16. I saw the sign indicated below while walking by this lot today. Is anyone familiar with something that might be going on this lot? It borders Buffalo Bayou and is north of the criminal courthouse.
  17. Asakurarobinson got the study and is set to start work in August. Hopefully make Waco/hirsch bridge more friendly to cross
  18. Riding my bike down buffalo bayou today and I ran across Buffalo Bayou Partnership working on the trails on the South side of the Bayou East of Jensen. They were clearing trees and preping for more bike trails. Also talking with them they have the contract to finish the trail on the North side and have access to KBR lots property. Other cool stuff going on is the boat racing down there.
  19. Of possible interest to some of you is this new book, "The Galveston-Houston Packet: Steamboats on Buffalo Bayou." http://www.amazon.com/Galveston-Houston-Packet-Steamboats-Buffalo-Bayou/dp/16094\ 95918 Here's a review of the book: http://galvestondailynews.com/story/361138
  20. The American Planning Association has named Buffalo Bayou one of America's Great Places. That's quite a change from when I moved to Houston in 1999 and it was just a stagnant smelly backwater that the city had turned its back on. On Sundays I used to sit under on the concrete abutment under an abandoned railroad bridge and read the newspaper by the water. The only thing that ever moved was the occasional snapping turtle coming up for air. Linky: http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/spaces/2012/
  21. First I have heard of this. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Project-to-transform-stretch-of-Buffalo-Bayou-2406589.php
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