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Funny how no one ever mentions freeways as the cause of sprawl. Without freeways, no one would want to live so far away.

Anyone who's lived here for a decent amount of time has probably noticed that the freeways come first, and then the houses. The freeways aren't built to meet demand, but rather create it (ironically the very technique that the anti-rail reactionaries disingenuously accuse rail proponents of using). If Houston were truly an organic city, we wouldn't be so spread out, but we wouldn't be crowded like the pre-car cities.

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"My guess is that they're priming themselves to be a stop on the commuter/heavy rail that will be coming down the pike at some point in the future." (quote, N Judah)

i hope your guess is correct. i am always optimistic when developments like this are optioned, as the growth signals health for our city. my biggest concern is and has always been growing in leaps and bounds without taking transportation and traffic into concern. i felt this way back in the 80's with the explosion of development of I45 past 1960. living in the northline area and working downtown, the drive home that used to be around 15 minutes grew to 1hr as all the cars fought their way in traffic to the burbs, often. as i would exit at tidwell i would look at the freeway and as far as i could see cars were bumper to bumper. a friend i worked with who lived out in spring told me the freeway was like that for her all the way home. i wondered, what were these developers thinking? how could they build thousands of homes without any regard to the commute? of course the answer was money. build it quick, make a buck, and hey, who can blame you, you're meeting the demand? eventually the park & rides were built and companies who wanted to attract workers started van pool programs, but it always seemed to me that provisions could have been made early in the planning stages to account for the traffic.

now i'm wondering about this development. i did not hear any mention of getting together with metro to upgrade or even improve the bus routes to this area and the ones that are in place suck. of course the clientele they desire may not be the bus riding kind, but that speaks volumes about everything that is wrong with the mentality of most developers. in a perfect world, developers would incorporate the best aspects of public transportation into their plans, like rail, but also trolleys, circulators and they would all be compatible to the bus system. this would ensure the most possible foot traffic and if that were the goal it could reduce the need for parking garages and possibly eliminate surface parking which is a supreme waste of land, not to mention an eyesore. i know it is not their responsibility, but in the long run if more developers would get involved with the push for rail it would have to make an impact.

deb martin

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"Funny how no one ever mentions freeways as the cause of sprawl. Without freeways, no one would want to live so far away.

Anyone who's lived here for a decent amount of time has probably noticed that the freeways come first, and then the houses." (quote, N Judah)

that may be the case now, but not in the past. i've lived here all of my 40 years and just like i described in my post above, the freeways were in place and homes and apartments popped up in almost every direction. I45 north (pre-woodlands) 59north (pre-kingwood) 290 (pre-compaq) and I-10 (pre-cinco ranch) are all examples. this was before any beltway or toll road, so i understand what you are saying about what is going on now.

deb martin

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My understanding was that the contraflow toll lanes that are soon to be in the middle of I-10 would eventually be turned into rail.

Well... that's a remote possibility at some point in the future. As part of some ridiculous compromise between METRO, TxDOT, and the HCTRA, the overpasses for the HOT lanes on the new Katy Freeway are being built to be able to withstand the weight of passenger rail cars should a line be built at some point in the future. This is adding expense to the overall project, and needlessly so. Why? What are the odds that the HCTRA will ever give up the cash cow those lanes are destined to become to METRO for a rail line? NONE! The only way a rail line could be built in the corridor now would be to elevate it over the freeway or frontage roads or to expand the freeway ROW. Both will be extremely expensive to do, and will face great opposition from land owners along the freeway corridor.

In any case, rail in the Katy Freeway corridor is decades away. If such a line is ever built (which I would hope it eventually is), I'm sure a stop at Gessner for Memorial City will be part of the deal regardless of whether this development is built or not. There's already a major mall and hospital there, Gessner is a major north-south street through that part of town that METRO has already identified as a route for its new "Signature Express" service that is part of the METRO Solutions plan, and the area is already served by at least five bus routes. A rail stop would obviously be placed there if the line is ever built because the area is a major destination for many purposes.

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I'm not even sure why sprawl is an issue.  This is Memorial City reinventing what's already there.  There IS no sprawl!

Thank you! I'm not a big fan of ever expanding sprawl, but please, that area of the city has been heavily developed since the early 1960s!! If we're going to talk about sprawl, let's keep it to discussions of areas where there is no development now and development is planned. This isn't even outside the beltway!

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Well... that's a remote possibility at some point in the future. As part of some ridiculous compromise between METRO, TxDOT, and the HCTRA, the overpasses for the HOT lanes on the new Katy Freeway are being built to be able to withstand the weight of passenger rail cars should a line be built at some point in the future. This is adding expense to the overall project, and needlessly so. Why? What are the odds that the HCTRA will ever give up the cash cow those lanes are destined to become to METRO for a rail line? NONE! The only way a rail line could be built in the corridor now would be to elevate it over the freeway or frontage roads or to expand the freeway ROW. Both will be extremely expensive to do, and will face great opposition from land owners along the freeway corridor.

My understanding - and this may be completely wrong - was that HCTRA wouldn't be the ones operating the toll lanes down the center of I 10. Rather, as they were not toll lanes but actually HOV lanes that just happened to charge a toll, they would be owned and operated by Metro. But I'm sure you know much more about this than I do -- I guess I'll just have to double check my sources on this one.

In any case, rail in the Katy Freeway corridor is decades away. If such a line is ever built (which I would hope it eventually is), I'm sure a stop at Gessner for Memorial City will be part of the deal regardless of whether this development is built or not. There's already a major mall and hospital there, Gessner is a major north-south street through that part of town that METRO has already identified as a route for its new "Signature Express" service that is part of the METRO Solutions plan, and the area is already served by at least five bus routes. A rail stop would obviously be placed there if the line is ever built because the area is a major destination for many purposes.

Good points. I definitely see what you're saying.

Anyway, at any rate, this new development is really win win. If rail doesn't come through there for a while, they still have attractive mixed use stuff for everyone to enjoy. But if/when rail comes through, at least they've got a head start. Then they can say that rail is justified by serving existing development, rather than basing the whole thing on the idea that it will spur develoment at some point in the future.

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No, HCTRA is paying TxDOT for those toll lanes. That's why the entire Katy project was accelerated. METRO isn't in the toll road business; HCTRA is. METRO's buses will be able to use the toll lanes for free, as will certain high occupancy private vehicles and van and carpools during rush hour. But the lanes will be operated by the HCTRA, not METRO.

See the Katy Freeway Toll Road web page for more information on how these lanes will work.

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The level of stupidity that these people display is astounding and quite frankly I'm considering moving out of this place.
You live in the mall?

Seriously, these developers own the mall and just poured millions into upgrading it. Why would they want to develop something away from it that wouldn't benefit it?

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I understand the concern over not having developments in downtown & midtown, but what I don't understand is why one would curse this developer for building around their already existing developments?

Midtown & Downtown will get their turn, and when they do - ALL will be envious. I'm sure of it. We just need to wait until the time is right for the best development for those areas to come in and take shape.

I agree. This developer is simply expanding what is already there. Besides, what would we have there if the developers didnt build this? Strip malls? Usual big-box retailers? Parking lots? Vacant land? No, thank you. I would rather see some cool mixed-use developments like these. Now we would all like to see some exciting projects in midtown or downtown. However, while thats not happening, we can at least enjoy what's happening elsewhere. Besides, one thing is sure. This particular developer wasn't going to downtown anyway.

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Thank you! I'm not a big fan of ever expanding sprawl, but please, that area of the city has been heavily developed since the early 1960s!!

I'm with you and don't like the sprawl happening out in the Katy area, etc. BUT, like you said, if people have a problem with "sprawl" this area, maybe they should've spoken up in the early 50s when neighborhoods were being developed. Memorial Bend, for example, is 50 years old ( Memorial Bend Development ). This area is anything but new - it is well-established and just as old as Meyerland, Braes Heights, Afton Oaks, Ayrshire, Tanglewood, etc. Warrenton and Whispering Oaks (SE corner of Gessner and Memorial Drive) were being built in 1952, three years before Meyerland. Warrenton Article

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Actually, the 200 acres includes the mall itself, BUT, they still have ALOT of devlopment to do, including the construction of new buildings on the existing parking lot, etc.

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I just don't understand.

I kind of get where you are coming from, but it is better than what is over there now. Of course this project would be nice in downtown, but the developer does not own any land in downtown, where land prices are through the roof. Plus there is not enough land in downtown or midtown for this huge of a development. Plus if this were in downtown, the project would probably be close to 1 billion or well over considering the price of land out there. I know you do not like sprawl, from reading some of your post on here, but it would be a nice place to visit, and it is not like it is in the suburbs or anyhting. We are talking not that far from the Galleria.

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I just don't understand.

The area is densly populated. Sure it is not Downtown (which is not densly populated) or Midtown, but this area is obviously ready for this type of development. The mall has transformed into probably the #2 Mall in the city and with a successfull malls come all the ancillary developmeny.

OK, I have no real way to quantify Memorial City as the #2 mall in the city, but I can not think of a nicer mall with better tenants besdies the Galleria.

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The area is densly populated.  Sure it is not Downtown (which is not densly populated) or Midtown, but this area is obviously ready for this type of development.  The mall has transformed into probably the #2 Mall in the city and with a successfull malls come all the ancillary developmeny. 

OK,  I have no real way to quantify Memorial City as the #2 mall in the city, but I can not think of a nicer mall with better tenants besdies the Galleria.

Well, actually, it is # 2 mall in terms of size/retail space. Indeed, it is the 17th largest malls in the nation.

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The list as of 2004 is at the following with Memorial City #17 and the Galleria at #5. It looks like it is measuring the malls by Retail space and not total space so Mall of America is not actually #1 but #4.

http://www.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/depts/amerst/MallsLarge.htm

What amazes me is the almost all the malls on this list are over 10 years old and most are over 20 and 30 years old. I guess they do not build them like they used to. Of oourse the Galleria has continued to grow and grow. It was probably less that 1 million SQ Ft when first constructed.

Thanks for the list. Very interesting.

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What amazes me is the almost all the malls on this list are over 10 years old and most are over 20 and 30 years old.    I guess they do not build them like they used to.  Of oourse the Galleria has continued to grow and grow.    It was probably less that 1 million SQ Ft when first constructed. 

Thanks for the list.  Very interesting.

Yeah..the Galleria was only 600,00 sq ft when it was first built. I read this on wikipedia (unless the article is wrong).

Great news for the Memorial Area!

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Wow, good catch, TB. It seems the architecture would blend in with the existing area. I was concerned that they would try to forge yet another brick/stucco collaboration in there, like they tend to do with so many intown projects. I can't really say if I like the design as it stands now, as it's really just a drawing and a lot of the finite design detail is hard to digest but at the very least it looks like a break from the other mixed-used projects that are on the table.

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Wow, good catch, TB. It seems the architecture would blend in with the existing area. I was concerned that they would try to forge yet another brick/stucco collaboration in there, like they tend to do with so many intown projects. I can't really say if I like the design as it stands now, as it's really just a drawing and a lot of the finite design detail is hard to digest but at the very least it looks like a break from the other mixed-used projects that are on the table.

The rendering looks like it includes a highrise office building, a midrise office (probably medical) and a midrise residential. I did not see any retail. They must be keeping the retail closer to the mall.

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I don't think much retail will happend in this portion of the development. It seems it will complement the hospital more. It may have some sort of food court for employees and visitors.

I think most of the retail will be placed around the Mall area.

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I would be much happier if these restaurants were going on the bottom floor of buildings kind of like Farrago in midtown, but here is one of the eateries to go in the project. What do you think? Do you agree that it would look better if it were ground level below residential or office?

Denis

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Thanks for the artist's rendering of the "gateway" at Memorial City, TB!

Does the building at front right strike anybody else as a dedevelopment of the original Memorial City Hospital tower? I remember watching the remodeling of that building with much interest in the late 80's or early 90's. It appeared that the added floors and exterior facade were constructed independent of the existing structure... i.e., that the old interior and lower floors could be demolished without any impact on the newer shell and upper floors. It's purely speculation on my part, but it would seem to make good economic sense, especially since the lower floors of that building are all but vacant at this point. The area of the hospital complex immediately south of the old hospital tower is deteriorating and appears prepped for demolishing. B)

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The Memorial City and Town & Country are not the same project... MC is Metro National & Town & Country is Midway Companies. See artist renditions of Midway Companies' plan for T&C at http://www.midwaycompanies.com/Projects/_/town_country.asp .

Both projects are within the boundaries of Memorial City TIRZ #17. Yep, that's the "blighted" area of Memorial (wink wink) that, but for your redirected tax dollars to save it, would have continued in a downward spiral of economic decline.

http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/economic_dev/tirz.htm

The Memorial City Redevelopment Authority continues to promise a website (soon???) to keep you informed about its plans for your money.

Beatty, Harvey & Associates is posting info and photos on their website about plans for a Majestic Seas Aquarium at Memorial City...

http://www.bha-architects.com/markets/other.html

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TIRZ's are not meant specifically for blighted neighborhoods. Any neighborhood willing to take a slight property tax increase for improved infrastructure can form a TIRZ. Uptown has TIRZ and is hardly blighted. The TIRZ's allow for locals to pay for improvemnts without leaching off the rest of the city's tax revenues.

I glad that one exists for Memorial City (didn't know it existed). It will allow the area to become another center for the city. It's already on a good start and the proposals on the table will make it only better.

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Actually, I looks like they are just going to take out some of the parking lot for the mall for the aquarium. I really like seeing the tall building in the background behind the mall. This appears to be part of the mixed used expansion for the mall side of Gessner.

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It depends. Also, 30 days to the notice to proceed for construction could mean up to 120 days. It depends on the contract. Just because the construction company has the ok to start, they usually can wait up to 45 or 90 days based on the contract. This gets them time to get equipment relocated to the site from other sites. Get in big equipment such as crane which may have to travel far. It's a setup time. They may have a ceremony with some dirt shoveling and then work gets really started. Either way, it seems like it is in motion to be built.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Since I'm at the hospital twice a week I am always checking to see what is going on. They have closed the gas station there on the corner and they are about to tear it up. They've been leveling and filling the land a lot more, but still nothing new as to what the heck is going in there first. I can't believe they are going to put what is in that drawing on that little 8-acre site. It looks like it's way too big for it.

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I know that the mixed used project around Memorial City Mall is well underway in design. GAP is moving there regional offices there and have already signed some leasing agreements. My partner is the head of a GAP store and heard the word from his district manager and was shown the flooplan of there new office in the complex. Of course it is not available to the public though.

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  • The title was changed to Memorial City Mall Developments

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