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Houston Pavilions, Now Green Street


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In the words of George Carlin, "I'll leave symbols to the symbol-minded".

A symbol is nothing without substance. What does downtown Houston's postcard skyline say to the world? Does it say anything about public investment or urban planning? Or does it speak to the lack thereof? Truthfully, symbols can have many different meanings to different people, and they usually wind up getting twisted out of context at some point...sometimes to very dangerous ends. This is why Carlin's simple pun is genius.

Symbols are connections, puzzle pieces. In the words of my own, those who dismiss symbols, dismiss entities, and therefore I dismiss you as a Antihumanist. ...Ahem, I don't know where that came from.

I don't say I stand at one or the other, But I did try to say a 'raw' view.

Keeping Downtown Healthy and attractive is a good idea no matter what. Downtown is a big neighborhood of our city, more employers there then anywhere else. With so many people working there, why would you not want to make 'it' better?

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Symbols are connections, puzzle pieces. In the words of my own, those who dismiss symbols, dismiss entities, and therefore I dismiss you as a Antihumanist. ...Ahem, I don't know where that came from.

I don't say I stand at one or the other, But I did try to say a 'raw' view.

Keeping Downtown Healthy and attractive is a good idea no matter what. Downtown is a big neighborhood of our city, more employers there then anywhere else. With so many people working there, why would you not want to make 'it' better?

Symbols are merely an intermediary by which the meaning of an entity may be conveyed. Nothing more. And just because something might be said about an entity does not mean that it would be prudent--many things might be said. Some things that might be said or symbolized may lead to certain undesirable events (erradication of various ethnic groups, for instance). Other things that might outwardly appear positive may have underlying meanings for various individuals. Symbols may be a shared part of human existence, but they are shared asymetrically. They are inherently imperfect.

I myself prefer to erradicate excessive symbolism (and yes, I recognize the irony/hypocracy considering my typical lack of brevity) in favor of the core meaning of the entity. And if nothing need be said, then let us say nothing. Let it be what it is; giving it a name or a face will not change that.

Indeed, downtown Houston warrants civic resources; it should be made better. But it does not warrant special allocations, exclusive of other urbanized areas of the City, in most cases.

The City should be made better.

Edited by TheNiche
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, Frankly, I don't care how many people (psst...cities can't agree on account of that they aren't sentient) disagree with me. Although I'll be the first to admit that I won't always be correct, or that I'll even know what correct looks like, I'd like to think that I at least have intellectual integrity.

I hope that you hold yourself to the same standard.

blah blah blah.....

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I agree with Montrose 1100 on how downtown should be a focal point of the city. However although i don't agree with The Niche's points, i still don't discredit them because they are his opinion. I do understand and agree that other neighborhoods need attention but lets face it, downtown is the birthplace and centerpiece of Houston.

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In the words of George Carlin, "I'll leave symbols to the symbol-minded".

A symbol is nothing without substance. What does downtown Houston's postcard skyline say to the world? Does it say anything about public investment or urban planning? Or does it speak to the lack thereof? Truthfully, symbols can have many different meanings to different people, and they usually wind up getting twisted out of context at some point...sometimes to very dangerous ends. This is why Carlin's simple pun is genius.

No offense, but i'm not understanding your argument. Your points are a little wordy, confusing and somewhat skew away from the topic.

For years Houston has had a bad rap. Many visitors often say that Houston is not a User friendly city and has limited options. They say that because of the way downtown is currently laid out. It has the resources but no one knows about them. It's missing two key elements, residential and retail. Do you really think that its best for Houston, the 4th largest city in America to have a city center that lags behind many other cities even smaller (examples: Denver, Seattle, Milwaukee). If we don't start to change things now, there will become a time when its too late.

I respect that you feel that Houston shouldn't just conform to the standards of other cities, but at the same time, you're suggestions don't indicate hope for progress in this city.

Edited by tierwestah
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Nah .. just in general. Lots of people play devil's advocate here from time to time and are crucified for it. I don't really get it. There's a gang mentality here sometimes that won't even allow anyone to ask a question if it seems to go against a "pro-Houston" line of thought. Many times, the question is just meant to generate discussion.

I think DalDoucheadise needs a flying Dutchmen wedgie. Let's get him, gang!

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To answer your question, yes. Of course.

I never said that there weren't costs to having no zoning. But the net benefits are greater, IMO, without it than with it.

Urban economists have gone down this road before, there are several studies trying to answer the question "What would a city without zoning look like?". Of course most of these studies point to Houston as an example, and the answer in most cases goes along the line of "market forces will shape the development of a zone-free city and the end result is a city with no zoning would not be very different from a city with zoning."

The reason housing is booming in the suburbs and not in the city center is indeed market forces. Land prices in the suburbs allow for far cheaper housing. Even when you add the cost of commuting, most people (as evidenced by market sales) would rather live in the suburbs at suburb prices. It's not even a question of detached housing versus condos, look at the success of condo projects in places like the Woodlands, Sugarland, Clear lake and West Houston.

That said, public policy can and will influence the market. If the county and state hadn't spent so much money in raods and infrastructure in the suburbs, development costs would be greater than they are and the gap in cost of housing between the city and the suburbs would shrink. The seemingly endless land supply in the exurbs and the continuous investment in road expansion is one of the reasons housing in Houston is far below the national average.

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Urban economists have gone down this road before, there are several studies trying to answer the question "What would a city without zoning look like?". Of course most of these studies point to Houston as an example, and the answer in most cases goes along the line of "market forces will shape the development of a zone-free city and the end result is a city with no zoning would not be very different from a city with zoning."

The reason housing is booming in the suburbs and not in the city center is indeed market forces. Land prices in the suburbs allow for far cheaper housing. Even when you add the cost of commuting, most people (as evidenced by market sales) would rather live in the suburbs at suburb prices. It's not even a question of detached housing versus condos, look at the success of condo projects in places like the Woodlands, Sugarland, Clear lake and West Houston.

That said, public policy can and will influence the market. If the county and state hadn't spent so much money in raods and infrastructure in the suburbs, development costs would be greater than they are and the gap in cost of housing between the city and the suburbs would shrink. The seemingly endless land supply in the exurbs and the continuous investment in road expansion is one of the reasons housing in Houston is far below the national average.

Good post. Until you got to that last paragraph, then you kind of went off the rails. Other than highways, what investment does the state and county make in roads and infrastructure in the suburbs? And how does infrastructure investment (to the extent it exists) make Houston's suburban housing less expensive?

I think it's fair to say most "suburban" development in the Houston region is in planned communities and other unincorporated areas. The roadways in those areas are built by the developer. The other infrastructure (sewer, water lines) are built by a municipal utility district. The only "infrastructure" I can think of built by the county or state is the major highways. (eg. Grand Parkway, expansion of the Katy, Beltway 8) I'm not sure I get how such highway projects would lead to less expensive suburban housing. With the added capacity of highways, comes more potential buyers, which, all else being equal, should lead to higher prices.

And how would a failure to expand roads to the suburbs ever cause the gap between the cost of city and suburban housing to shrink? Failure to expand roadways will limit the supply of suburban housing (thereby limiting the overall supply of housing in the market) and drive all prices up. Simultaneously, the failure to expand roadways to the suburbs would theoretically limit the number of people willing to make the commute, therefore lowering demand for suburban housing, therfore exerting a downward pressure on suburban prices and an upward pressure on city prices. Market forces would still be at play and would drive the city housing prices up even further, very possibly creating an even larger price gap between city and suburb.

All of this ignores the very real possibilty (seen in many cities with less agressive roadway expansion plans), where the suburbs still grow and the jobs follow the people to the suburbs. (I guess that's one way in which you can level the price differential... stop investing in highway expansion, cause gridlock in your city, causing people and jobs to leave the city . . . in this way you would lower demand, and therefore pricing, for city housing, and reduce the price gap)

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An honest question.

It isn't as though there aren't other areas of opportunity within the city where it'd be easier to stimulate major redevelopment on a more concentrated and grand scale (i.e. Buffalo Bayou corridor). Downtown/midtown are each just have this problem with divided ownership of a whole lot of tiny parcels that makes cohesive urban planning incredibly difficult.

I agree with you. The Buffalo Bayou Corridor needs to be redeveloped and redeveloped with a solid plan. Hopefully, that's what the Buffalo Bayou Partnership can encourage (or do themselves). There are some potentially amazing attractions waiting to happen, including residential, park space, and amenities such as botanical gardens, etc.

But, these developments compliment, not detract, from a strong downtown. There is already so much infrastructure downtown that it would be unwise not to capitalize on it. You are right, there are many ideas of what "ye olde" downtown was like and many want to somehow reproduce that. But, I think most people that favor downtown revitalization simply believe in developing a lively, multi-faceted, amenity-rich neighborhood that will be the city's civic and emotional center. Truly great cities have truly great civic (or at least publicly accessible) centers.

Edited by largeTEXAS
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No offense, but i'm not understanding your argument. Your points are a little wordy, confusing and somewhat skew away from the topic.

For years Houston has had a bad rap. Many visitors often say that Houston is not a User friendly city and has limited options. They say that because of the way downtown is currently laid out. It has the resources but no one knows about them. It's missing two key elements, residential and retail. Do you really think that its best for Houston, the 4th largest city in America to have a city center that lags behind many other cities even smaller (examples: Denver, Seattle, Milwaukee). If we don't start to change things now, there will become a time when its too late.

I respect that you feel that Houston shouldn't just conform to the standards of other cities, but at the same time, you're suggestions don't indicate hope for progress in this city.

I'm sorry that you don't understand what I'm trying to say, but I really and truely can't find a better way to word it. Normally I'd try to clarify, but I'm as clear as can be given the abstractness of the subject matter.

Otherwise, let me ask this: what does "hope for progress" look like in your eyes? As I see myself, there is PLENTY of hope for progress. Sometimes I get giddy at the prospects. But progress (note: the word is a symbol ;) ) means different things to different people.

I agree with you. The Buffalo Bayou Corridor needs to be redeveloped and redeveloped with a solid plan. Hopefully, that's what the Buffalo Bayou Partnership can encourage (or do themselves). There are some potentially amazing attractions waiting to happen, including residential, park space, and amenities such as botanical gardens, etc.

But, these developments complement, not detract, from a strong downtown. There is already so much infrastructure downtown that it would be unwise not to capitalize on it. You are right, there are many ideas of what "ye olde" downtown was like and many want to somehow reproduce that. But, I think most people that favor downtown revitalization simply believe in developing a lively, multi-faceted, amenity-rich neighborhood that will be the city's civic and emotional center. Truly great cities have truly great civic (or at least publicly accessible) centers.

I agree that a successfully revitalized Buffalo Bayou Corridor could compliment downtown...but it should compliment the CITY more than anything else. And beyond that, it should compliment the state, the nation, the globe. It should compliment humanity.

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How would it not 'compliment' the entire city?

It does compliment the entire city. Throw a canoe in the water at beltway 8 and travel through natural beauty as you pass untouched woodlands, million dollar mansions, skyscrapers, an opera house, a university and end up in a world class port.

Just be thankful it was never cemented. Then it would compliment nothing more than those that could care less.

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How would it not 'compliment' the entire city?

Situation: The City of Houston can opt to devote some amount of the city's limited resources to Downtown, Midtown, the Buffalo Bayou Corridor, and all of the other neighborhoods within the city limits. Their goal is to maximize benefit to the constituents of the municipality, although not necessarily the Houston region.

Some or all of the City's resources can be devoted to any given urban development project, each with different potential outcomes and financial and non-financial payoffs to it and its constituents. Perhaps, for any given project, there is declining net benefit for each additional dollar of City investment. In that case, you'd expect to see the money spread throughout the City. Or perhaps a given project has an investment threshold above which there is a great deal of benefit, but below that, there is none; with that project, you might expect to see that it'll end up taking a disproportionate share of City resources. But some of these neighborhoods carry higher costs than others, too, which adversely affects the net returns.

Realistically, this is what I'd expect (or hope) will occur. The City will (or should) maintain its infrastructure throughout the entirety of the City to an extent as will produce an adequate return to its constituency, with disproportionate resources committed where the net returns on investment are abnormally high. Although Downtown, Midtown, the Buffalo Bayou Corridor, and other areas may produce abnormally high returns and merit investment, I would propose that the cost of urban planning activities in Downtown and Midtown is especially high as compared to the Waterfront, and that the highest marginal benefit might be obtained from the waterfront because the land is so relatively inexpensive and easy to assemble and develop in short order. In contrast, no matter what the City does, developing Midtown and Downtown will be remarkably slow as a result of practical considerations.

Most of the benefit would be to the new users of the developed waterfront, which would include residents of the neighborhood and residents of the region, which would view it as a regional amenity. Somehow I'd think that the US 59 bridge and the Section 8 apartments would be considered a psychological barrier to downtown, however, and that the waterfront will be largely self-contained and self-promoting. So the spillover of benefit into downtown might be limited. This is where water taxis come into play, but even then...

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Realistically, this is what I'd expect (or hope) will occur. The City will (or should) maintain its infrastructure throughout the entirety of the City to an extent as will produce an adequate return to its constituency, with disproportionate resources committed where the net returns on investment are abnormally high.

This is exactly why the City invests money in downtown. Not only does expanding the infrastructure add more value to the highest value land in the city, conversely, NOT keeping up the infrastructure causes that high value property to depreciate, costing the city (and therefore, its citizens) tax revenue. Investing in neighborhoods returns little, if any tax revenue. Investing in downtown makes the city money. Downtown also happens to be the city's most recognizable feature. When I went to school downtown in the 1980s, it was a dirty, depressing, dangerous place. When I opened an office downtown in the 90s, it was only marginally better. When the city invested police, new streets and sidewalks, and METRORail, it changed dramatically. So did the taxable values.

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This is exactly why the City invests money in downtown. Not only does expanding the infrastructure add more value to the highest value land in the city, conversely, NOT keeping up the infrastructure causes that high value property to depreciate, costing the city (and therefore, its citizens) tax revenue. Investing in neighborhoods returns little, if any tax revenue. Investing in downtown makes the city money. Downtown also happens to be the city's most recognizable feature. When I went to school downtown in the 1980s, it was a dirty, depressing, dangerous place. When I opened an office downtown in the 90s, it was only marginally better. When the city invested police, new streets and sidewalks, and METRORail, it changed dramatically. So did the taxable values.

But, in addition to downtown, the City of Houston has numerous places within it that have land values that behave LIKE downtown that deserve a fair bit of infrastructure investment too. Just because downtown is the "city's most recognizable feature" doesn't mean that there aren't other areas that are also recognizable.

The root of my question is why the City is trying to stimulate so much new growth downtown that is unrelated to its current use. Residential and shopping districts don't have to be mixed in with an oversized business park...if that is the focus, then there are better places to put urban planning resources than where land prices are so obscenely high that market-rate development occurs at a snail's pace (or, alternatively, because we're subsidizing the wealthy people that will use these developments) and in a place where divided land ownership impedes place-making.

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There's no harm in asking the question. I'm constantly amazed at the inability of this forum to work through a dissenting opinion, or even to entertain a question to the established majority.

One answer to this question is the fact that sprawl has splintered the city and it's beginning to function more like disparate towns than the fourth largest city in the country. The redevelopment of Downtown is not really intended to make a tiny Manhattan. Instead, I believe it's intended to foster density through creation of a real city center. Traffic patterns, visitor destinations, employment, entertainment and shopping will all one day be centralized, allowing the growth patterns to radiate out from the center again. We'll also continue the trend of repopulating the dead zones inside the Loop and the Beltway. As density builds, the "satellite cities" and neighborhoods will begin to thrive. What I think we'll end up with is more of an LA or London model than a NY one. I think that would work quite well here in Houston.

This is the most intelligent post I've read in the last three pages of this thread.

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This discussion is very interesting and there are many intelligent viewpoints but maybe shouldn't we open up a new discussion centered around some of these topics?

The question I was looking to have answered is: What is the current status of the Pavilions??? Is it true that the housing component is going to be eliminated because of (cough) a construction material increase due to Katrina??? Couldn't they just wait this out or try to spec more economical materials because of this .

This is obviously a cover up, so, what is really happening with this project? Has anyone found out a real reason why they are drastically changing the scope? We need to try to find specific reasons why this thing is lagging behind and might face the same fate as Ballpark Place and the Shamrock.

Is it REALLY that hard to add housing to the CBD of the nation's 4th largest city? Lesser cities have this done all the time....

Edited by shasta
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ok.

vicman started it.

thanks for wasting a few bytes of bandwidth. ;)

No problem ;)

Anyway, it would be great if the company made a statement explaining the delay in the construction process...

EDIT: The developer's website mentions info@houstonpavilions.com

Edited by VicMan
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psst...Pavilions won't use 700,000sf of land. Only three blocks of about 1.4 acres each. Check your math.

http://www.houstonpavilions.com/project-des.php

"Houston Pavilions is a $200 million project encompassing almost 700,000 square feet. Houston Pavilions will include 350,000 square feet of retail space that will occupy the first two levels of the development," - I should change land to space... because I think the count INCLUDES land on 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. floors.

By the way, I found a cool Chronicle article that mentioned how the project was finances. It turns out the Pavilions owners will want to build it, because they borrowed money from the city of Houston AND Harris County.

Edited by VicMan
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http://www.houstonpavilions.com/project-des.php

"Houston Pavilions is a $200 million project encompassing almost 700,000 square feet. Houston Pavilions will include 350,000 square feet of retail space that will occupy the first two levels of the development," - I should change land to space... because I think the count INCLUDES land on 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. floors.

Touche'!

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http://www.houstonpavilions.com/project-des.php

"Houston Pavilions is a $200 million project encompassing almost 700,000 square feet. Houston Pavilions will include 350,000 square feet of retail space that will occupy the first two levels of the development," - I should change land to space... because I think the count INCLUDES land on 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. floors.

That would've been 700,000 square feet of built space. Unless of course, suddenly, three blocks of downtown land equals about 16 acres (5.36 acres per block).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Told yall. This is Shamrock Towers all over again. Groundbreaking pushed back. Then pushed back AGAIN. Then pushed back ridiculously further. Then indefinitely. :rolleyes:

I'm gonna laugh when the date construction was pushed back to rolls around and they say "oh, we had to push the date back again." :lol:

Or even funnier, when they take a page out of shamrocks book and put up "construction fences" around the site to go with the port-o-potty. :lol:

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Told yall. This is Shamrock Towers all over again. Groundbreaking pushed back. Then pushed back AGAIN. Then pushed back ridiculously further. Then indefinitely. :rolleyes:

I'm gonna laugh when the date construction was pushed back to rolls around and they say "oh, we had to push the date back again." :lol:

Or even funnier, when they take a page out of shamrocks book and put up "construction fences" around the site to go with the port-o-potty. :lol:

Projects like this are a major boost for our home town. We should celebrate the ones that move forward and make Houston a better place for all of us. It is a loss we all share when the projects don't move forward.

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Ok to add some additional fuel to the rumor mill on the Pavilions. At my company Christmas party the husband of the Accouting Manager works for ??? don't have the name but could get it that constructs a good percentage of all high rise construction in Houston. He is currently working on another project downtown that is just getting started but he knew of the Pavilions really well and said so and so from his company had just gotten assigned the project and construction would start end of January or early February.

So in conclusion the Construction Superintendent has been assigned apparently and construction end of January or early February.

Scharpe St Guy

Not denying, rejoicing.
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Not denying, rejoicing.

77017, lets try saying, It will happen, It will happen, It will happen. Houston needs all the positive energy it can get right now.

Are you houstonsemipro's alias?

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This is a little off-topic, but relevant enough. I didn't want to start a brand new thread just for this question.

But don't you guys think that in a way, Houston only does first-class projects?

Maybe I'm phrasing it wrong or something. But this is what I'm thinking. It just seems like a lot of the things going up in downtown or uptown are expensive things. What about ordinary every day things like some simple sandwhich shop?

I don't know, I'm probably out of my mind or something. And to tell you the truth, I don't visit downtown on a regular basis.

Are these things present? Or is everything expensive?

I was just thinking that they should make plans that cater to normal middle class people too.

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^^ every time i go downtown i go to the Popeye's and grab me some quick food

I guess I'm talking about small local business owners. Not chains. I'm not saying everything is like that. But I've looked at some of the new resaurants that are going in and they sound expensive. I'm probably wrong.

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I guess I'm talking about small local business owners. Not chains. I'm not saying everything is like that. But I've looked at some of the new resaurants that are going in and they sound expensive. I'm probably wrong.

No, the Houston Pavilions will be more upscale retail and restaurants. You won't be finding a Wendy's or a Taco Bell; however, you will be seeing Lucky Strike (cool bowling), House of Blues, and lots of restaurants that are trendy and some chains but not all. Downtown property values are such that upscale works best. Houston Pavilions is coming. 2007, I think, will be Houston's year to show off lots of new highrises, restaurants and downtown fun spots. Hey, we may break ground for the University Line. :unsure:

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  • The title was changed to Houston Pavilions, Now Green Street

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