Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
emirate25

Mayor White puts muscle behind One Park Place

Recommended Posts

Interesting article...

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6231479.html

“One Park Place will be the residence of choice downtown because its 346 residences offer 14 floor plans with finishes typical of high-end condominiums, spectacular views, a nearly one-acre resort-style pool area, a grand terrace overlooking the park and retail spaces.”

Except it is not a marketing brochure. It is a Jan. 16 letter, penned by Mayor Bill White on city letterhead and sent by the developer of One Park Place to hundreds of people and human resources representatives at businesses and organizations across Houston.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when I lived in Calgary, the mayor there would go on these whirlwind trips to Asia to promote Calgary as a great city to do business in. In the end it worked tremendously. Calgary went though a major boom that certainly preceded the influx of oil money and I can't help but think it was due in large part to the jobs he was able to bring to the city by touting the benefits of the city as a whole.

As a result of the jobs, certain areas began to prosper and the trickle down effect eventually made its way through the whole city.

So, I certainly applaud Mayor Bill in his desire to bring a focus to the downtown core, but question whether open support of a single building is the way to do it. If his motive was to bring excitement to the Discovery Green area, or to downtown as a whole, I think there are smarter ways to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know. Part of a mayor's job is promoting economic development. On the one hand, if he doesn't do all he can to help this landmark development and it falls into bankruptcy with this economy, it will freeze downtown development for years. He's prudently watching out for the city's long-term interests. On the other, any time a mayor can say to a major developer, "no taxpayer subsidies or tax abatements, but I'll write you a nice letter" - that's a pretty big win in my book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In theory I agree with Tory Gattis and others that the Mayor should be a steward of economic development. That said, how to justify certain developers and certain projects over others--there are surely other pimp-worthy projects in Houston. It's all about perception.

Cheesy ad copy aside, if OPP fails (in this economy or any other) it becomes another data point which says that the downtown Houston real estate market is not yet able to sustain residential in the numbers that developers and the mayor would like.

I must admit the idea of offering a nice marketing letter instead of financial incentives is intriguing. Too bad no one tried this tactic when it came to the poor, struggling professional sports franchises wanting public handouts.

Edited by crunchtastic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it's as scandalous as it sounds. I think Houston just isn't used to this sort of thing. A lot of big city mayors spend a lot of time doing this sort of thing. In fact, I think more mayors should spend more time doing it. If the mayor isn't going to be the face of his city, then who is?

Houston has been blessed to be able to look inward for most of its history. That tradition of self-reliance makes this kind of external promotion seem strange and unnecessary.

The mayors of cities around Houston's size spend weeks, even months, overseas promoting their city to the world. I get Mayor White's daily schedule e-mailed to me, and I really can't tell you the last time he went farther than Port Arthur.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think it's as scandalous as it sounds. I think Houston just isn't used to this sort of thing. A lot of big city mayors spend a lot of time doing this sort of thing. In fact, I think more mayors should spend more time doing it. If the mayor isn't going to be the face of his city, then who is?

Houston has been blessed to be able to look inward for most of its history. That tradition of self-reliance makes this kind of external promotion seem strange and unnecessary.

You make some very good points that are obvious to an outsider, and less so to a Houstonian. I would agree that there is a certain inwardness and naivete in politics here, and in Texas generally. Provincial is a word which comes to mind. The perception problem is very real, though. Correctly or not, many native Houstonians and Texans of a certain age have ingrained in them the conventional wisdom that our political machine is bought and paid for by developers and builders. To openly acknowledge that relationship, even in seemingly disparate ways (the mayor's intereference in the Ashby proejct, then this letter) is tantamount to rubbing our noses in our dirty business.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The mayors of cities around Houston's size spend weeks, even months, overseas promoting their city to the world. I get Mayor White's daily schedule e-mailed to me, and I really can't tell you the last time he went farther than Port Arthur.

The Mayor has already done these global economic development trips you speak of in his earlier terms in office. As far as I know, nothing came of it except for a momentary blip of press. I'm sure that he would've taken credit for anything that he was able to bring in, but I never saw any followup to that effect. He may have just concluded that it wasn't a very effective use of time or resources.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know. Part of a mayor's job is promoting economic development. On the one hand, if he doesn't do all he can to help this landmark development and it falls into bankruptcy with this economy, it will freeze downtown development for years. He's prudently watching out for the city's long-term interests. On the other, any time a mayor can say to a major developer, "no taxpayer subsidies or tax abatements, but I'll write you a nice letter" - that's a pretty big win in my book.

Is it really in the City's long term interests to promote downtown over any other neighborhood? I'd rather see the City promoting the City (the whole City!), not the City promoting only the favored part of the City.

I don't tax abatements which must be approved on a project-by-project basis.

I don't like the language in White's letter which promotes one developer over another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it really in the City's long term interests to promote downtown over any other neighborhood? I'd rather see the City promoting the City (the whole City!), not the City promoting only the favored part of the City.

I don't tax abatements which must be approved on a project-by-project basis.

I don't like the language in White's letter which promotes one developer over another.

More people living downtown = fewer cars on the freeway, so you're also getting traffic and environmental benefits. I think it IS beneficial to the whole city to promote downtown over other neighborhoods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't mind so much if it were a generic "OPP seems like it will be a great place" type thing, but when he gets into talking about the different floor plans, he's gone beyond helpful mayor into salesman territory, and the fact that they contributed to his campaign sets off another alarm bell for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it really in the City's long term interests to promote downtown over any other neighborhood? I'd rather see the City promoting the City (the whole City!), not the City promoting only the favored part of the City.

Why can't he do both? Promote the entire city and also promote those areas that have the most potential in his view?

I don't like the language in White's letter which promotes one developer over another.

It was probably written by some PR person and just approved by the mayor's office. When the next developer comes along to be promoted it will have flowery language about that developer, too. Everyone is special and no one is special.

he's gone beyond helpful mayor into salesman territory,

In some cities, especially New York, the mayor is seen as a salesman for the city. Nothing wrong with that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In some cities, especially New York, the mayor is seen as a salesman for the city. Nothing wrong with that.

Certainly not, but OPP is not the city, but rather a private real estate development that provided funding to the mayor's campaign. If this was Lee Brown I would hardly blink, but Bill White is better than this.

Edited by kylejack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Certainly not, but OPP is not the city, but rather a private real estate development that provided funding to the mayor's campaign. If this was Lee Brown I would hardly blink, but Bill White is better than this.

I dunno. Sounds like when mayor Bloomberg lends his name to the Port Authority or Times Square or Atlantic Yards or any other developer in his city to help them attract tenants, or even when he appears in NBC, ABC, or CBS network events. They get credibility, he gets a plug for his city.

If White only does it for OPP, worry. If he does it for lots of developers, then it's fine. I think it's too soon to worry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wouldn't mind so much if it were a generic "OPP seems like it will be a great place" type thing, but when he gets into talking about the different floor plans, he's gone beyond helpful mayor into salesman territory

Since you brought it up..........I am professionally compelled as a long time marketing hack to dog on that, too. The letter copy, in parts, was just over-the-top cheesy. Embarassingly so.

Granite countertops and wood floors!!! Really now. It's the mayor, not an apartment leasing agent in her little golf cart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Mayor is plugging ALL apartment towers built downtown. In fact, he has plugged EVERY new apartment tower built downtown in the last 40 years!

I applaud his consistency and inclusiveness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Mayor is plugging ALL apartment towers built downtown. In fact, he has plugged EVERY new apartment tower built downtown in the last 40 years!

I applaud his consistency and inclusiveness.

Did he say they were all THE place to live in Houston and extol their various floor plans? And did they contribute to his campaign?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did he say they were all THE place to live in Houston and extol their various floor plans? And did they contribute to his campaign?

Yep. Every single one of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cite. Thanks in advance.

Better idea. Name an apartment tower built downtown in the last 40 years that he HASN'T plugged.

No thanks needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
More people living downtown = fewer cars on the freeway, so you're also getting traffic and environmental benefits. I think it IS beneficial to the whole city to promote downtown over other neighborhoods.

What if your job isn't downtown. Only about one out of twenty people in the Houston region are employed there. Using the same logic, maybe the City should be actively promoting new apartment projects in Greenspoint, Westchase, or Uptown.

Also, you can live near downtown and still not use a freeway. What about those other neighborhoods?

Why can't he do both? Promote the entire city and also promote those areas that have the most potential in his view?

The moment a City official starts playing salesman on behalf of a particular developer and to the exclusion of all of that developer's competition is the moment that I call foul.

Likewise, as a property owner in areas not being called out by the Mayor for their potential, he would seem to be diverting attention away from my markets. Here again it comes back to him selling some peoples' properties and not others.

It isn't as though I am actually seeking some kind of favor, either. I'd just rather have a level playing field is all. I don't see it as the business of a City administrator to try and be an opinion leader. Let people make up their own damned minds.

It was probably written by some PR person and just approved by the mayor's office. When the next developer comes along to be promoted it will have flowery language about that developer, too. Everyone is special and no one is special.

When was the last time you ever saw the Mayor of Houston give a property-specific sales-pitch and in the process put down all of that property's competitors? Never.

In some cities, especially New York, the mayor is seen as a salesman for the city. Nothing wrong with that.

That's fine. As long as he isn't a salesman for hire by random real estate developers who need him to smear all the local competition.

If White only does it for OPP, worry. If he does it for lots of developers, then it's fine. I think it's too soon to worry.

Isn't this his last term?

And he hasn't done it up to this point... :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Imagine. Developers calling for a level playing field. Oh, the irony.

This is a tempest in a teapot. I do not find the criticisms persuasive. The mayor is touting those projects that HE finds good for the City. If he is not touting your project, it may well be that he does not find it particularly good for the City. The fact that you or some others do not approve of the way he used his bully pulpit, doesn't make it wrong. I'll take a letter on City stationary over a property tax break any day.

It seems to me that the mayor is attempting to make his signature project, Discovery Green, a lasting success, and filling up the first building built as a result of his park would contribute greatly to it. I know that it is common to find the evil intent in everything that government officials do, but I don't see it here. Clumsy approach...perhaps...evil intent, not really.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Imagine. Developers calling for a level playing field. Oh, the irony.

This is a tempest in a teapot. I do not find the criticisms persuasive. The mayor is touting those projects that HE finds good for the City. If he is not touting your project, it may well be that he does not find it particularly good for the City. The fact that you or some others do not approve of the way he used his bully pulpit, doesn't make it wrong. I'll take a letter on City stationary over a property tax break any day.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you just mean to accuse me and all other developers of being jealous and covetous of those who can finagle the political favors that we cannot. That would be a circumstantial ad hominem...but then as a lawyer, schooled in logic, you'd already know that and are probably just using this fallacious tactic maliciously to manipulate public opinion.

I know you; you aren't stupid enough to actually believe what you're saying.

The truth is that developers may not always like specific rules or regulations, but they'd much rather have to follow a strictly enforced set of codes than have to deal with the whims of fickle politicians or their 'special' constituencies. This goes both ways, not only encompassing the responsibilities of the developer but the responsibilities of the City. It's all about setting clear expectations between stakeholders and effectively managing conflicts of interest. That's a level playing field. And that's how a City encourages development!

It seems to me that the mayor is attempting to make his signature project, Discovery Green, a lasting success, and filling up the first building built as a result of his park would contribute greatly to it. I know that it is common to find the evil intent in everything that government officials do, but I don't see it here. Clumsy approach...perhaps...evil intent, not really.

I understand his motive, to try and prove up demand for this project so as to induce others that would follow. Even still, it does not strike me as good public policy to try and entice people within his own City to relocate to any particular place. It'd be one thing if he tried to promote the City to outsiders and used this project as supporting evidence that the City has broad appeal. It is another to try and shape public opinion as though people needed to be led around like they were sheep. If the project and location is appealing, it will achieve market success of its own merit.

And perhaps he is also concerned about his legacy, but I'm cutting him a break on that because I know better than to haphazardly throw around circumstantial ad hominems. Having said that, most people will not cut him that break, and that he exposed himself to that kind of criticism is itself a misstep that could be criticized as having been poor judgment. And poor judgment is sufficient rationale to argue that a person not rise to further levels of prominence in politics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you just mean to accuse me and all other developers (who are complaining) of being jealous and covetous of those who can finagle the political favors that we cannot.

Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. You could have stopped there. I did not read the rest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Better idea. Name an apartment tower built downtown in the last 40 years that he HASN'T plugged.

No thanks needed.

Exactly.

This project has the potential to be monumental. I'd be more concerned if the mayor wasn't pimping it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. You could have stopped there. I did not read the rest.

head-in-the-sand.jpg

^RedScare

Exactly.

This project has the potential to be monumental. I'd be more concerned if the mayor wasn't pimping it.

Hey crunchtastic, as a marketing professional what is your opinion of Kinkaid's ad copy?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
head-in-the-sand.jpg

^RedScare

Hey crunchtastic, as a marketing professional what is your opinion of Kinkaid's ad copy?

No offense to Kinkaid, but monuments typically don't need pimping. People tend just to show up anyway. :D

However, big bonus points for avoiding empty words and phrases such as: world-class, innovative, ground-breaking, unique

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What if your job isn't downtown. Only about one out of twenty people in the Houston region are employed there. Using the same logic, maybe the City should be actively promoting new apartment projects in Greenspoint, Westchase, or Uptown.

Also, you can live near downtown and still not use a freeway. What about those other neighborhoods?

Our public transportation grid is centered on downtown. So if you live in downtown, the chances of you having more commuting options BESIDES your personal vehicle are greatly increased. So again, that's a change that is benefitting not only downtown, but the city as a whole.

The moment a City official starts playing salesman on behalf of a particular developer and to the exclusion of all of that developer's competition is the moment that I call foul.

It isn't as though I am actually seeking some kind of favor, either. I'd just rather have a level playing field is all. I don't see it as the business of a City administrator to try and be an opinion leader. Let people make up their own damned minds.

When was the last time that any project, good or bad, became a success/failure without other people's input? Should we really expect our elected officials to never share their opinions on anything?

The letter is what it is... and to me, it's a good thing. If we can boost the overall population of downtown Houston... whether I personally live there or not... it's a good thing for everyone. Especially in a times like these when suburban communities are in real crisis, people are opening their eyes to the potential benefits of living downtown. OPP is the most aggresive residential we've had in a long time, and IMO there's no reason why we shouldn't support it.

Edited by totheskies

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Our public transportation grid is centered on downtown. So if you live in downtown, the chances of you having more commuting options BESIDES your personal vehicle are greatly increased. So again, that's a change that is benefitting not only downtown, but the city as a whole.

Yeah, because nobody uses public transportation the way that rich people use transportation! They're willing and able to pay for the most expensive apartment units in the whole Houston region and they're going to ride a bus somewhere. :lol:

I will buy that many of the residents there are likely to walk to work. Even then, once you subtract out a reasonable number of physically vacant units (including corporate units being used basically like on-call hotel suites or foreign nationals using their unit as a second home), units occupied by persons that aren't in the labor force or that are unemployed, and account for lower average household sizes typical of apartments, there just aren't as many people left over that generate trips as you might think. And out of the remaining commuter households, how many multi-person households are going to have one person that works downtown and the other person that works somewhere else? Also, how many will commute to work on a regular rush-hour schedule such as they might impact congestion?

Ok, now out of those, what percentage will also work within a part of downtown that is considered within a reasonable walking distance? Houston is not a game of Sim City. The population just doesn't sort themselves geographically by employment location. They sort themselves foremostly on the basis of private preferences which are not necessarily aligned with social preferences.

When was the last time that any project, good or bad, became a success/failure without other people's input? Should we really expect our elected officials to never share their opinions on anything?

By other people, I assume you are specifically referring to politicians and not to hired professionals such as engineers, architects, etc. If that assumption is valid, then the answer is that projects occur all the time in a political vacuum. You just aren't aware of them because they don't get any press.

The letter is what it is...

Wow, that's the most brilliant thing I've heard since my sixth grade math teacher pointed out that 'A is A'.

Quick, someone award this guy an honorary Ph.D!

If we can boost the overall population of downtown Houston... whether I personally live there or not... it's a good thing for everyone.

Beware of making such sweeping statements. The Houston region has nearly six million people living here. Not all of them will agree with you.

There was a time in my past life when I used to design questionaires for telephone surveys, and you'd be amazed at how people interpret such questions or the open-ended feedback that they'd give. I am confident that there is not a single question that could be dreamed of where a total consensus could be achieved.

Moreover, popular opinion does not equate to correctness.

Especially in a times like these when suburban communities are in real crisis, people are opening their eyes to the potential benefits of living downtown.

There are suburban and urban communities which are in crisis. Please explain how this favors urban living. I know plenty of townhome developers who may disagree with you.

OPP is the most aggresive residential we've had in a long time, and IMO there's no reason why we shouldn't support it.

The award for aggressiveness goes to Mosaic for having tried to develop as many condos in each seperate tower (next door to one another) as have ever been developed in any other single condo project in Houston's history, and in a subpar location. One Park Place is modeled after Museum Tower and was located on a Class A++ site.

I do agree that there is no reason not to support it. Nor is there a compelling reason to support it over other projects. Aggressiveness is not in and of itself admirable. Competence is, however. If Museum Tower was developed and is managed competently, then there is no need for support by public officials. It will stand on its own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, because nobody uses public transportation the way that rich people use transportation! They're willing and able to pay for the most expensive apartment units in the whole Houston region and they're going to ride a bus somewhere. :lol:

So by this, you're saying that just b/c someone is rich, that means that they do not use public transportation? Or that (more specifically) rich people don't ride the bus? I suppose having money will give you more options than someone that is poor and doesn't own a car, but it does not guarantee that the person will not ever ride the bus. They may be concerned about their carbon footprint, or may not like to drive, or they may be too miserly to hire a private driver. If you're going to be so adamant about accusing others of making sweeping generalities, you should avoid making them yourself.

I will buy that many of the residents there are likely to walk to work. Even then, once you subtract out a reasonable number of physically vacant units (including corporate units being used basically like on-call hotel suites or foreign nationals using their unit as a second home), units occupied by persons that aren't in the labor force or that are unemployed, and account for lower average household sizes typical of apartments, there just aren't as many people left over that generate trips as you might think. And out of the remaining commuter households, how many multi-person households are going to have one person that works downtown and the other person that works somewhere else? Also, how many will commute to work on a regular rush-hour schedule such as they might impact congestion?

Ok, now out of those, what percentage will also work within a part of downtown that is considered within a reasonable walking distance? Houston is not a game of Sim City. The population just doesn't sort themselves geographically by employment location. They sort themselves foremostly on the basis of private preferences which are not necessarily aligned with social preferences.

Your scenarios are valid, but they don't really address the statement that I made. I only said that living in downtown will provide an increased number of transit options, and I did not go on to imply that every resident would use those options 100% of the time, or that all residents would be able to use them. But an increase in downtown residents... whether it may be 10 more or 10,000 more... it's still an increase.

By other people, I assume you are specifically referring to politicians and not to hired professionals such as engineers, architects, etc. If that assumption is valid, then the answer is that projects occur all the time in a political vacuum. You just aren't aware of them because they don't get any press.

I guess you can assume that, but it's not what I meant. "Other people" could be anyone who is not directly involved with the project.

Beware of making such sweeping statements. The Houston region has nearly six million people living here. Not all of them will agree with you.

There was a time in my past life when I used to design questionaires for telephone surveys, and you'd be amazed at how people interpret such questions or the open-ended feedback that they'd give. I am confident that there is not a single question that could be dreamed of where a total consensus could be achieved.

Moreover, popular opinion does not equate to correctness.

My sincerest of apologies for not adding the requisite IMO

There are suburban and urban communities which are in crisis. Please explain how this favors urban living. I know plenty of townhome developers who may disagree with you.

Which illustrates how deep the recession has gotten. Of course I made another general assumption about our housing crisis, and I will shamefully admit that I am uninformed. Maybe you can help me. Which areas have seen more forclosures over the last 18 mos.? Suburbs, or urban areas? Is the same true even when you account for the fact that more people live in the suburbs?

The award for aggressiveness goes to Mosaic for having tried to develop as many condos in each seperate tower (next door to one another) as have ever been developed in any other single condo project in Houston's history, and in a subpar location. One Park Place is modeled after Museum Tower and was located on a Class A++ site.

I do agree that there is no reason not to support it. Nor is there a compelling reason to support it over other projects. Aggressiveness is not in and of itself admirable. Competence is, however. If Museum Tower was developed and is managed competently, then there is no need for support by public officials. It will stand on its own.

Again, that's my opinion, FWIW

Mosaic is a very aggressive project... it's been built in an area that's transitional at best, and it's a huge number of units. But I'm not sure that I would imply that the developers of Mosaic are incompetent just b/c they are willing to take a risk. We don't know what the Almeda area will be like in 10 years, b/c we're not there yet. But what we do know is that enough people live in/around the Museum District, Hermann Park, and Third Ward to warrant the possibility of a residential development in the area. So if you're going by population trends of the surroundings, way fewer people live in proximity to OPP than live in proximity to Mosaic. Again, as a classical singer, I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that I know how to assess risk within a given real estate profile, but the current lack of residential population would assume that OPP was a "bold move"... at least more bold than your avg. Houston area development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So by this, you're saying that just b/c someone is rich, that means that they do not use public transportation? Or that (more specifically) rich people don't ride the bus? I suppose having money will give you more options than someone that is poor and doesn't own a car, but it does not guarantee that the person will not ever ride the bus. They may be concerned about their carbon footprint, or may not like to drive, or they may be too miserly to hire a private driver. If you're going to be so adamant about accusing others of making sweeping generalities, you should avoid making them yourself.

More precisely, I am saying that there is a strong negative correlation between the variables 1) wealth and 2) bus trips. I do not mean to say that a wealthier person will never under any circumstances ride the bus. They may get their license revoked as a result of a DWI, for instance. However such trips are going to be ridiculously few and far in between among the upper echelons of society because busses are painfully slow and often perceived as being unpleasant.

This pattern is reflected in METRO bus ridership data in both urban and suburban service areas of varying physical form and demographic composition.

Your scenarios are valid, but they don't really address the statement that I made. I only said that living in downtown will provide an increased number of transit options, and I did not go on to imply that every resident would use those options 100% of the time, or that all residents would be able to use them.

Oooh, transit options. Not transit use or transit efficiency, but options!

Foolish me. The holy grail of urban planning, after all, is not that people actually walk or use transit--screw observed preferences!--it's only important that society allocates scarce resources to ensure that people have the capability of acting in a way that they typically won't. It's about fantasy. The availability of transit makes people inexplicably feel good and therefore I should feel good. ...yet for some reason I don't feel good about it. There's obviously something wrong with me since I'm not willing to indulge the urbanist fantasy. Would you suggest that I be evaluated for a personality disorder? I almost don't feel right asking you that question, but you seem to have a philosophical perspective that precludes the possibility of empiricism interfering with your view of what is socially beneficial, and that's just something (obviously a fault on my part) that I just can't get past.

I guess you can assume that, but it's not what I meant. "Other people" could be anyone who is not directly involved with the project.

So you've asked when was the last time that a project occurred, whether it resulted in a success or a failure, without the input of someone who was not hired for their opinion. My development in the East End fits that criteria. No non-professional opinions have been sought or rendered and it will succeed or it will fail.

Which illustrates how deep the recession has gotten. Of course I made another general assumption about our housing crisis, and I will shamefully admit that I am uninformed. Maybe you can help me. Which areas have seen more forclosures over the last 18 mos.? Suburbs, or urban areas? Is the same true even when you account for the fact that more people live in the suburbs?

Foreclosure activity is foremostly correlated with demographic indicators reflecting socioeconomic conditions within a given neighborhood. About 6 months ago (or thereabouts) I posted on HAIF a statistical review of inner loop housing markets by zip code.

I'm sure it's gotten worse since then, since massive layoffs didn't really pick up in Houston until recently, making the effect of subprime foreclosures less prominent.

At that time, nearly half of all MLS listings were foreclosures in poor predominantly black areas such as 77020 or 77021. It got down to about a third or even a quarter of them in poor predominantly hispanic areas such as 77011, 77012, or 77023. And neighborhoods like Montrose and the Heights were closer to an eighth. Less than 1% of homes listed for sale in Bellaire or West U were foreclosures. Among townhomes, there were especially high rates of foreclosure among particular townhome developments and not in others, and most townhome developments are so small that it is difficult to identify a clear pattern as to why some developments were apparently cursed and others weren't. And among condos, foreclosures were especially high in well-known disasters such as Live Oak Lofts and Tremont Tower, but also in various downtown buildings.

The suburban areas have been subject to similar patterns. The worst-off are those areas where there were way too many low-priced starter homes all bunched together, such as in North Katy or Spring, but also in areas where starter homes were interspersed among existing older housing stock. Up until perhaps about six months ago, American MetroStudy reported that the velocity of sales of new homes in the higher price echelons were actually increasing, even as the market for starter homes tanked.

The lesson in all this, more than anything, is that whether you live in a suburban or an urban area, the price point that you happen to fall in makes the biggest difference. The central Houston economy is no more immune than are the suburbs, but households in McMansions are certainly are more buffered to the economy than are households in starter homes.

Mosaic is a very aggressive project... it's been built in an area that's transitional at best, and it's a huge number of units. But I'm not sure that I would imply that the developers of Mosaic are incompetent just b/c they are willing to take a risk. We don't know what the Almeda area will be like in 10 years, b/c we're not there yet.

The Mosaic development team declared bankruptcy within the last several weeks. Does that pass for a verdict?

But what we do know is that enough people live in/around the Museum District, Hermann Park, and Third Ward to warrant the possibility of a residential development in the area. So if you're going by population trends of the surroundings, way fewer people live in proximity to OPP than live in proximity to Mosaic. Again, as a classical singer, I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that I know how to assess risk within a given real estate profile, but the current lack of residential population would assume that OPP was a "bold move"... at least more bold than your avg. Houston area development.

What did in Mosaic was that too many very similar units were built targeted at too high a price point. Also, because they tried to develop a highrise on what was not a good highrise site, they wasted lots of time and resources tying up the land for years while they tried again and again to arrange financing. I know for fact that they had been working on that project since at least 2002. Had they developed something nearly identical to Esplanade at Hermann Park or the Amalfi, both right across the road, that would've been less aggressive but would have been a financial success. They probably would've built it, filled it up with tenants, and then sold it while cap rates were low and before capital markets crashed.

One Park Place is different. It is indisputably a highrise site, far superior to Mosaic's. Finger is developing fewer units there, a greater diversity of floor plans will appeal to a broader spectrum of prospective residents (as well as to corporate tenants, which Mosaic was unable to tap), and the nature of rentals makes them much easier to sell to an urban crowd than does for-sale housing. Finger also may have high-end finishes and amenities at OPP, but they are not going overboard with them. After accounting for mortage, maintenance fees, and taxes, buying a unit at Mosaic is substantially more expensive than leasing a similar-sized unit at OPP, and a Mosaic buyer can only expect to break even on their mortgage (excl. other expenses) after living there for upwards of about four years--except that urban residents tend to be somewhat more transient than that.

Comparing Mosaic and One Park Place for aggressiveness is no contest. Mosaic takes the cake. Finger went to great effort and expense in order to develop realistic projections and isn't going to make such amateurish mistakes like bringing in a nightclub as a so-called amenity. Mind you, I'm not saying that OPP isn't subject to an above-average market risk, just that they have compensated for it by approaching the project with adequate caution. ...and I know this must get tiring hearing me say this, but I do have inside knowledge of both projects to that effect. PM me if curious and I'll gladly explain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So by this, you're saying that just b/c someone is rich, that means that they do not use public transportation? Or that (more specifically) rich people don't ride the bus? I suppose having money will give you more options than someone that is poor and doesn't own a car, but it does not guarantee that the person will not ever ride the bus. They may be concerned about their carbon footprint, or may not like to drive, or they may be too miserly to hire a private driver. If you're going to be so adamant about accusing others of making sweeping generalities, you should avoid making them yourself.

Are you kidding me? This is not New York or San Fran...

I guarantee you that a "rich" person in Houston does not and will not ever take public transportation in Houston unless one thing changes. That change would be if the public transportation system was more reliable and FASTER than a private automobile.

I have had a place in downtown for 5 years now (3yrs in Humble Tower Lofts, and 2yrs in Commerce Tower) and never once have I stepped foot on a bus, they are unreliable and take forever from what I have read and hear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't mind this. Build great parks, and then tout the development that they attract. A few more DGs around the city would be absolutely fantastic in my personal view.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you kidding me? This is not New York or San Fran...

I guarantee you that a "rich" person in Houston does not and will not ever take public transportation in Houston unless one thing changes. That change would be if the public transportation system was more reliable and FASTER than a private automobile.

I have had a place in downtown for 5 years now (3yrs in Humble Tower Lofts, and 2yrs in Commerce Tower) and never once have I stepped foot on a bus, they are unreliable and take forever from what I have read and hear.

It depends on the route, your destination, and how many places you need to get to. I know that the mindset has reverted thanks to gas prices, but a lot of people were using the buses regularly over the summer. You should try it sometime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It depends on the route, your destination, and how many places you need to get to. I know that the mindset has reverted thanks to gas prices, but a lot of people were using the buses regularly over the summer. You should try it sometime.

If someone is so pinched by gas prices that they have to use painfully slow local bus routes (and not the nicer coach busses available at Park & Ride lots), they're probably going to be screened and rejected by Finger because they're not income-qualified to live in the most expensive apartments in Houston.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If someone is so pinched by gas prices that they have to use painfully slow local bus routes (and not the nicer coach busses available at Park & Ride lots), they're probably going to be screened and rejected by Finger because they're not income-qualified to live in the most expensive apartments in Houston.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on that point. But as a member of the Houston Grand Opera Chorus, I know lots of people that live downtown (ok let me be specific... 8 people), and refuse to purchase a personal automobile. They live in places like Hogg Palace, Kirby lofts, the Franklin building and 2011 Main. Being one of the chorus members whom has a car, I am often paid a subsidy to take these people to outlying gigs that they couldn't otherwise get to. So again, I totally understand what you guys are saying, but there are always going to be exceptions to "the rule"... especially when you're dealing with nonsenssical artists and musicians.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guarantee you that a "rich" person in Houston does not and will not ever take public transportation in Houston unless one thing changes. That change would be if the public transportation system was more reliable and FASTER than a private automobile.

I know a number of rich-ish people that take the train from their downtown apartments to the Medical Center.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So again, I totally understand what you guys are saying, but there are always going to be exceptions to "the rule"... especially when you're dealing with nonsenssical artists and musicians.

Oooooh! OK. Yeah. I understand. That makes perfect sense precisely because it doesn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take the train to the TMC from Midtown. It's faster and cheaper than driving and parking.

But yes. No one will take transit unless it's quantitatively better than private auto (as it is in my case.) And Mosaic is an amateur job on a shit site. I know better than anyone on this forum because I lived on a property adjacent to the site for 4 years. :)

Niche is thankfully a reality-based participant in these discussions, but I think that he sees urban vs. suburban as merely an aesthetic choice, instead of something that will ultimately be driven by more concrete factors as the suburbs (and the lifestyle choices they represent/require) become less sustainable and more expensive. American cities are going to be dragged into a more urban future, with or without consent. I think it's wise to start planning for this new reality now, while it's relatively easy to do so.

Edited by woolie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I take the train to the TMC from Midtown. It's faster and cheaper than driving and parking.

But yes. No one will take transit unless it's quantitatively better than private auto (as it is in my case.) And Mosaic is an amateur job on a shit site. I know better than anyone on this forum because I lived on a property adjacent to the site for 4 years. :)

Niche is thankfully a reality-based participant in these discussions, but I think that he sees urban vs. suburban as merely an aesthetic choice, instead of something that will ultimately be driven by more concrete factors as the suburbs (and the lifestyle choices they represent/require) become less sustainable and more expensive. American cities are going to be dragged into a more urban future, with or without consent. I think it's wise to start planning for this new reality now, while it's relatively easy to do so.

On the contrary, I see a suburban growth trend in the context of that the majority of jobs are located there (and are going there) and that people will prefer to live either closer to where they work or where they play. I actually discount aesthetics almost in their entirely; it's not that there aren't people that are driven by that consideration, myself among them, just that they are a rare breed.

It isn't clear to me that an urban future is inevitable. Part of the equation is the geography of job creation; and part of it too is that many new jobs aren't tied down by geography. As telecommuting becomes more commonplace, what's to keep people in metropolitan areas at all? Who is to say that society will not tilt in a more anti-social direction, rejecting entirely the archetypal notion as cities being a place for the avant garde intellectuals to gather and mull about? Why bother with such antiquated notions when you can enjoy a private view of the Christmas Mountains of west Texas and still earn six figures? And then what happens when that 30,000-acre ranch next door gets subdivided into ranchettes for people that want the same lifestyle? ...but that's a view to the long run.

In the immediate term, I simply respect other people's decisions whether they abide by my preference or not. There are certainly compelling economic arguments for people who buy homes in the suburbs. Not everyone believes in peak oil, and as I pointed out earlier some people in suburbs actually live much closer to where they work than they ever could living in an urban or quasi-urban environment. I begrudge them nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On the contrary, I see a suburban growth trend in the context of that the majority of jobs are located there (and are going there) and that people will prefer to live either closer to where they work or where they play. I actually discount aesthetics almost in their entirely; it's not that there aren't people that are driven by that consideration, myself among them, just that they are a rare breed.

It isn't clear to me that an urban future is inevitable. Part of the equation is the geography of job creation; and part of it too is that many new jobs aren't tied down by geography. As telecommuting becomes more commonplace, what's to keep people in metropolitan areas at all? Who is to say that society will not tilt in a more anti-social direction, rejecting entirely the archetypal notion as cities being a place for the avant garde intellectuals to gather and mull about?

But (like the other areas) the inner loop is growing too... the Medical Center is nearly doubling its size right now, and there's significant expansion on all of the University campuses. There are some boomtown areas like Memorial City and the Energy corridor, but I wouldn't say that Central Houston isn't lacking in employment growth. Beyond that, there are still plenty of reasons to live in the center city... it just depends on the type of person you are. If your idea of a fun night out is Buffalo Wild Wings and Slick Willies, nearly any old corner of the metro will do for you. But there is a community (and I believe a growing community) in Houston that prefers to live close to major sporting events, the Arts, museums, and all of the other things that the central city can offer. Not saying it couldn't happen, but it will take a very long time for a Sugar Land or Kingwood to compete with these advantages of inner loop Houston.

Why bother with such antiquated notions when you can enjoy a private view of the Christmas Mountains of west Texas and still earn six figures? And then what happens when that 30,000-acre ranch next door gets subdivided into ranchettes for people that want the same lifestyle? ...but that's a view to the long run.

LOL... Mountains are kinda scary. I don't think I'd want to look at them EVERY day.

Telecommuting has revolutionized the way that most of us work. For this reason, I believe that leisure is going to increase as a factor for where people live. If you only have to show your face at the office once a month, you don't really have to worry about commute costs. IMO, the suburbs biggest advantage is the top-tier school systems. There's just no comparison between HISD and (insert district here) suburb. If I knew my kid was going to have a better shot at going to college, I'd probably put up with CincHO Ranch too.

In the immediate term, I simply respect other people's decisions whether they abide by my preference or not. There are certainly compelling economic arguments for people who buy homes in the suburbs. Not everyone believes in peak oil, and as I pointed out earlier some people in suburbs actually live much closer to where they work than they ever could living in an urban or quasi-urban environment. I begrudge them nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But (like the other areas) the inner loop is growing too... the Medical Center is nearly doubling its size right now, and there's significant expansion on all of the University campuses. There are some boomtown areas like Memorial City and the Energy corridor, but I wouldn't say that Central Houston isn't lacking in employment growth.

Central Houston is indeed growing its employment base. ...but as visually impactful as that process is, there is also a tremendous level of low-rise development occurring outside of the urban core that most people are so provincial as to never notice unless they happen to live there.

Beyond that, there are still plenty of reasons to live in the center city... it just depends on the type of person you are. If your idea of a fun night out is Buffalo Wild Wings and Slick Willies, nearly any old corner of the metro will do for you. But there is a community (and I believe a growing community) in Houston that prefers to live close to major sporting events, the Arts, museums, and all of the other things that the central city can offer. Not saying it couldn't happen, but it will take a very long time for a Sugar Land or Kingwood to compete with these advantages of inner loop Houston.

LOL... Mountains are kinda scary. I don't think I'd want to look at them EVERY day.

Telecommuting has revolutionized the way that most of us work. For this reason, I believe that leisure is going to increase as a factor for where people live. If you only have to show your face at the office once a month, you don't really have to worry about commute costs. IMO, the suburbs biggest advantage is the top-tier school systems. There's just no comparison between HISD and (insert district here) suburb. If I knew my kid was going to have a better shot at going to college, I'd probably put up with CincHO Ranch too.

The problem with relying on affluent mostly-white people as a justification for urban growth is that they are a stagnant population. They are an invasive species which once they have decided on a preferred habitat proceeds to displace all other creatures from it (except for cats); however most of them are infertile and the species is therefore considered endangered. The nature of their species is such that they do not socialize outside of it yet cannot even acknowledge the existence of other species (such as those that they are displacing) as distinct from them, as doing either would be considered a serious social faux pas which might preclude them from non-reproductive sex. Therefore, as the population density of their species increases within a given habitat, individuals are led to believe that their species is flourishing, growing by leaps and bounds...when it is in fact only being shuffled around.

Among those rare few of the species that are biologically fertile, fertility only occurs once several prerequisites have been met. For instance, whereas a 1,600 square foot townhome would be adequate for a mating pair of the species, at least 1,000 square feet of additional enclosed living area per child is considered necessary to ensure the health and well-being of the offspring. Other prerequisites include a plot of St. Augustine grass, granite counter tops (Formica will not do), a massive island in the kitchen, top of the line name-brand appliances including a commercial-grade refrigerator, tall privacy fences, and a lot fronting a dead-end street. Also necessary are elementary schools without inferior forms of life. Few of these affluent mostly-white species can afford such a lifestyle, except in their traditional birthing grounds, and so they grudgingly relocate, quite possibly never to return in their lifetime to their species' romping grounds except shamefully by way of a 15-minute ride in a minivan. They will die there, firmly believing that their immortality is secured by their offspring even though a greater and greater proportion of affluent mostly-white offspring turn out to be infertile with each successive generation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Among those rare few of the species that are biologically fertile, fertility only occurs once several prerequisites have been met. For instance, whereas a 1,600 square foot townhome would be adequate for a mating pair of the species, at least 1,000 square feet of additional enclosed living area per child is considered necessary to ensure the health and well-being of the offspring. Other prerequisites include a plot of St. Augustine grass, granite counter tops (Formica will not do), a massive island in the kitchen, top of the line name-brand appliances including a commercial-grade refrigerator, tall privacy fences, and a lot fronting a dead-end street. Also necessary are elementary schools without inferior forms of life. Few of these affluent mostly-white species can afford such a lifestyle, except in their traditional birthing grounds, and so they grudgingly relocate, quite possibly never to return in their lifetime to their species' romping grounds except shamefully by way of a 15-minute ride in a minivan. They will die there, firmly believing that their immortality is secured by their offspring even though a greater and greater proportion of affluent mostly-white offspring turn out to be infertile with each successive generation.

Thanks for the laugh Niche! :D Although I must have some genetic mutation that has made me different from my species... My wife and I plan on raising our future kids in our townhouse in Midtown. In all seriousness (just like totheskies described) we prefer living near Museums, art galleries, sporting events, theaters, parks, zoo, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Central Houston is indeed growing its employment base. ...but as visually impactful as that process is, there is also a tremendous level of low-rise development occurring outside of the urban core that most people are so provincial as to never notice unless they happen to live there.

The problem with relying on affluent mostly-white people as a justification for urban growth is that they are a stagnant population. They are an invasive species which once they have decided on a preferred habitat proceeds to displace all other creatures from it (except for cats); however most of them are infertile and the species is therefore considered endangered. The nature of their species is such that they do not socialize outside of it yet cannot even acknowledge the existence of other species (such as those that they are displacing) as distinct from them, as doing either would be considered a serious social faux pas which might preclude them from non-reproductive sex. Therefore, as the population density of their species increases within a given habitat, individuals are led to believe that their species is flourishing, growing by leaps and bounds...when it is in fact only being shuffled around.

Among those rare few of the species that are biologically fertile, fertility only occurs once several prerequisites have been met. For instance, whereas a 1,600 square foot townhome would be adequate for a mating pair of the species, at least 1,000 square feet of additional enclosed living area per child is considered necessary to ensure the health and well-being of the offspring. Other prerequisites include a plot of St. Augustine grass, granite counter tops (Formica will not do), a massive island in the kitchen, top of the line name-brand appliances including a commercial-grade refrigerator, tall privacy fences, and a lot fronting a dead-end street. Also necessary are elementary schools without inferior forms of life. Few of these affluent mostly-white species can afford such a lifestyle, except in their traditional birthing grounds, and so they grudgingly relocate, quite possibly never to return in their lifetime to their species' romping grounds except shamefully by way of a 15-minute ride in a minivan. They will die there, firmly believing that their immortality is secured by their offspring even though a greater and greater proportion of affluent mostly-white offspring turn out to be infertile with each successive generation.

Nadia Sulyeman... problem solved. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Telecommuting has revolutionized the way that most of us work. For this reason, I believe that leisure is going to increase as a factor for where people live. If you only have to show your face at the office once a month, you don't really have to worry about commute costs.

Ha! I thought this myth died with the first round of Starbucks closings. Not only are we not going to be a nation of once a month at the office workers (too many lazy people need supervising), but telecommuting does not increase leisure time, just as cell phones and email have not. It INCREASES the amount of time that one works, due to the fact that work has now invaded your home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Small towns have been experiencing a resurgence and cities with strong neighborhoods that can replicate a small-town feel (which excludes Houston and its suburbs) will do well too. This is the result of telecommuting. People with real options never choose the suburbs, except as a compromise. When we build freeways to the suburbs it's like subsidizing someone else's midlife crisis.

Edited by N Judah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Small towns have been experiencing a resurgence and cities with strong neighborhoods that can replicate a small-town feel (which excludes Houston and its suburbs) will do well too. This is the result of telecommuting.

I would contend that the resurgence of small towns is more the result of an exodus of new retirees out of the cities and suburbs, along with people willing to take on extreme commutes, the trend towards companies offering a 10-hour workday 4 days per week, and up until recently that rural land prices were jacked up to the extent that land use patterns were shifting from agricultural to recreational or residential oriented at a wealthier demographic.

...way down on that list is telecommuting.

People with real options never choose the suburbs, except as a compromise.

When is any kind of major lifestyle choice not a compromise? Every decision carries with it an opportunity cost. The important thing is that it was the optimal decision for that individual or household.

When we build freeways to the suburbs it's like subsidizing someone else's midlife crisis.

I have three basic problems with that statement: 1) When my parents moved to downtown Galveston a couple years ago, it was to satisfy my dad's own midlife crisis; it seems entirely unclear that a midlife crisis is going to cause people to move to the suburbs. 2) Suburban residents could hold the exact same point of view as you do about projects that serve urban areas and not their own. They pay taxes, too, after all, and in aggregate they actually pay quite a bit more. Their point of view would be provincial, but then so is yours. 3) I would agree that the system that we have in place to finance freeway construction could be tweaked so as to more equitably direct funds in such a way as that the infrastructure serves the neighborhoods that paid for them. However I would also point out that easing access between the suburbs and the city allows urban employers to draw from a larger labor pool, making the urban core more desirable for new businesses. And those new businesses contribute to the economic vitality of urban areas. Transportation infrastructure is not necessarily a zero-sum game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...