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land prices in Rice Military / West End area


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Would like to get your feedback on land prices in the Rice Military / West End area. Is $30/sq.ft a reasonable price or is that high or on the low side.

Will be interesting to get feedback on this question now and 5-6 years later once all the development on Washington has taken place, and Yale is redone with the new Walmart and the fancy gas lamps on the repaved bridge across the Bayou!!!

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Would like to get your feedback on land prices in the Rice Military / West End area. Is $30/sq.ft a reasonable price or is that high or on the low side.

Will be interesting to get feedback on this question now and 5-6 years later once all the development on Washington has taken place, and Yale is redone with the new Walmart and the fancy gas lamps on the repaved bridge across the Bayou!!!

You're going to have to be more specific in terms of location and the size of the parcel.

But I feel like I have to point out that once the Wal-Mart is built, the entire neighborhood (and the Heights) will be locked into a veritable nuclear winter of traffic and carcinogenic auto fumes. Nobody will be able to get in or out, and when the next hurricane hits, the runoff from the parking lot will cause epic flooding. It'll be like Hurricane Katrina for white people; they will run amok, set everything ablaze, a firestorm shall ensue, and the whole of the concurrently-flooded neighborhood will burn. And when its all over, land prices in the area will have fallen precipitously (in spite of the high rate of inflation).

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That is a good point about traffic. Walmart and the feeder will bring the level of service for Yale and Heights at I-10 to an F. It will be very difficult to get a traffic impact analysis approved for new development after Walmart goes in for any development that will impact that area. It is impossible to provide any real mitigation without having to widen Yale, which would cost millions. But for now, Ainbinder is getting over $50 per sq foot from the City (i.e. taxpayers--you and me) for a right of way to extend Koehler from Yale to Heights. Speculation is that this amount per sq ft is about what Walmart is paying to acquire the land from Ainbinder. Thus, Walmart is paying about 20-30x what they usually pay for land acquisition in the burbs, meaning it will take at least a decade for that store to break even, if ever. $30-35 per sq ft is about what HCAD is valuing land. Larger parcels will probably get more per sq ft so the strip mall developers can execute their plan to make the West End and the Heights indistinguishable from FM 1960.

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That is a good point about traffic. Walmart and the feeder will bring the level of service for Yale and Heights at I-10 to an F. It will be very difficult to get a traffic impact analysis approved for new development after Walmart goes in for any development that will impact that area. It is impossible to provide any real mitigation without having to widen Yale, which would cost millions. But for now, Ainbinder is getting over $50 per sq foot from the City (i.e. taxpayers--you and me) for a right of way to extend Koehler from Yale to Heights. Speculation is that this amount per sq ft is about what Walmart is paying to acquire the land from Ainbinder. Thus, Walmart is paying about 20-30x what they usually pay for land acquisition in the burbs, meaning it will take at least a decade for that store to break even, if ever. $30-35 per sq ft is about what HCAD is valuing land. Larger parcels will probably get more per sq ft so the strip mall developers can execute their plan to make the West End and the Heights indistinguishable from FM 1960.

WHITE PEOPLE KATRINA! WHITE PEOPLE KATRINA!

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BTW, I was at the Target on Sawyer/Taylor yesterday and today. The parking lots, as one would expect, were packed with Christmas shoppers. Why is this relevant? Because the parking lots in front of Target and Petsmart contain 870 spaces! The proposed Walmart will only have 664. I had no problem whatsoever driving up to or away from the store. The only inconvenience was the fact that I had to park much farther away than normal. But, street traffic was fine.

Keep in mind that there are also parking lots for Staples, Chilis and the banks, adding another 387 parking spaces. There are another 500 or so for the apartment complex. This development has parking for approximately 1,750 vehicles, yet somehow s3mh thinks that a Walmart parking lot one-third the size will cause gridlock.

Want proof? Here's a link to the Target shopping center layout. Add up the parking for yourself.

http://www.propertycommerce.com/flyers/flyer44.pdf

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^ To be fair, there is a steady flow of traffic in and out of this development coming from both directions on Sawyer/Taylor. Anyone who regularly uses the bike trail will notice this when trying to cross the intersection to Spring Street, regardless of the time of year. In my experience, it's the busiest street one must cross along the entire Heights bike trail. Yale would come second, with the traffic being more dispersed due to the distance from any major source. But regardless of the traffic caused by the development, the street system near Target seems able to handle the load, and most of the traffic appears to be limited between I-10 and Washington Ave.

For the Walmart development, having both Yale and Heights along with Washington and I-10 should provide enough opportunity for traffic dispersal without overloading the system. I would expect a similar situation to the Target development, with most traffic being isolated between I-10 and Washington Ave. I wouldn't want to live on Koehler or Center St near this development and deal with the added traffic on a daily basis, but the folks living there were apparently okay moving in adjacent to an active railway and near a noisy stone lot, so maybe they are used to the noise, and the added traffic load won't be much of a bother. There are plenty of alternative routes, such as Bonner or taking Koehler to Patterson to alleviate a heavy concentration of traffic.

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BTW, I was at the Target on Sawyer/Taylor yesterday and today. The parking lots, as one would expect, were packed with Christmas shoppers. Why is this relevant? Because the parking lots in front of Target and Petsmart contain 870 spaces! The proposed Walmart will only have 664. I had no problem whatsoever driving up to or away from the store. The only inconvenience was the fact that I had to park much farther away than normal. But, street traffic was fine.

Keep in mind that there are also parking lots for Staples, Chilis and the banks, adding another 387 parking spaces. There are another 500 or so for the apartment complex. This development has parking for approximately 1,750 vehicles, yet somehow s3mh thinks that a Walmart parking lot one-third the size will cause gridlock.

Want proof? Here's a link to the Target shopping center layout. Add up the parking for yourself.

http://www.propertyc...ers/flyer44.pdf

Hey there, don't forget, Target it only open for a certain number of hours, forcing all shoppers to shop within that timeframe, however the WalMart will have some random people shopping at 3am cause they aren't forced to shop at normal business hours.

So while Target has to fit 60,000 cars* down that one street every day within business hours, Walmart will only have to fit 20,000 and that will be at all hours of the day.

* I made the 60,000 number up based on numbers S3MH has used in the past to figure how many cars will visit the Walmart, and since there are 3x as many parking spots, I decided there are 3x more cars. S3MH logic is easy!

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$30-35 per sq ft is about what HCAD is valuing land. Larger parcels will probably get more per sq ft so the strip mall developers can execute their plan to make the West End and the Heights indistinguishable from FM 1960.

Currently HCAD seems to be valuing land along the Washington corridor at around $35 (see, for example, here, which is where the Counter and Givrals are located). Residential land between Washington and Memorial seems closer to $40. Camp Logan is $65 or so.

I personally don't believe that "the developers" have any sort of nefarious plan to make over this area to look like FM 1960, and land prices are a good reason why they won't. Presumably the most disagreeable aspects of strip mall and big-box development are the large setbacks and surface parking lots. Assuming there's no change to the minimum setback rules (which aren't as bad as they used to be) and the minimum parking requirements (which are), the only way this type of development ceases to become the most practical is an increase in land prices.

Based on some admittedly cursory Google research, mutli-level parking costs around $10,000 to $15,000 per space. A surface parking space is about 300 s.f., so at $10/s.f. for land, that's $3000 per space, so pretty much all parking will be surface lots. But when land values start to get north of $30-40/s.f. the cost balance starts to shift in favor of multi-level.

And how do we get land value up to those levels as quickly as possible? Densification. So everyone who's against "suburban-style development" ought to thank a townhouse-builder. After all, the alternative to suburban development is urban development. Next time you see a bungalow get knocked down and a 10-unit townhouse complex with a central driveway goes up in its place, find the developer and say, "Thank you for keeping my neighborhood from looking like FM 1960!"

Edited by Angostura
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Currently HCAD seems to be valuing land along the Washington corridor at around $35 (see, for example, here, which is where the Counter and Givrals are located). Residential land between Washington and Memorial seems closer to $40. Camp Logan is $65 or so.

I personally don't believe that "the developers" have any sort of nefarious plan to make over this area to look like FM 1960, and land prices are a good reason why they won't. Presumably the most disagreeable aspects of strip mall and big-box development are the large setbacks and surface parking lots. Assuming there's no change to the minimum setback rules (which aren't as bad as they used to be) and the minimum parking requirements (which are), the only way this type of development ceases to become the most practical is an increase in land prices.

Based on some admittedly cursory Google research, mutli-level parking costs around $10,000 to $15,000 per space. A surface parking space is about 300 s.f., so at $10/s.f. for land, that's $3000 per space, so pretty much all parking will be surface lots. But when land values start to get north of $30-40/s.f. the cost balance starts to shift in favor of multi-level.

And how do we get land value up to those levels as quickly as possible? Densification. So everyone who's against "suburban-style development" ought to thank a townhouse-builder. After all, the alternative to suburban development is urban development. Next time you see a bungalow get knocked down and a 10-unit townhouse complex with a central driveway goes up in its place, find the developer and say, "Thank you for keeping my neighborhood from looking like FM 1960!"

The FM 1960-ification is starting at Walmart and will proceed along the new feeder road on both sides of I-10. There are large chunks of land that will become prime targets for big boxes and strip centers on both sides of I-10 (where White Oak bayou isn't in the way). This FM-1960-ification will also proceed down the major thoroughfares. Studemont has a big tract by I-10 (just north of Arnies) that is going to be big boxed very soon.

The 10 unit townhouses crammed into single family lots on streets with 21 ft streets is the idoit's densification. The streets cannot handle the cars that will not fit in the small garages of each unit, much less the parking needed for visitors. The smart and efficient way to promote densification is to do it on the larger tracts. That way you can plan for sufficient multilevel parking for residents, visitors and customers of mixed use businesses instead of leaving it to chance whether the streets will fill up with extra cars (it is just a matter of time before parking makes Shady Acres unbearable). Thus, with the Walmart tract, you could have put up housing for several hundred without any impact on parking. Instead, the FM 1960 development model pushes residential into an area that is not suited for densification due to narrow streets.

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And how do we get land value up to those levels as quickly as possible? Densification. So everyone who's against "suburban-style development" ought to thank a townhouse-builder. After all, the alternative to suburban development is urban development. Next time you see a bungalow get knocked down and a 10-unit townhouse complex with a central driveway goes up in its place, find the developer and say, "Thank you for keeping my neighborhood from looking like FM 1960!"

AMEN :lol:

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Thus, with the Walmart tract, you could have put up housing for several hundred without any impact on parking. Instead, the FM 1960 development model pushes residential into an area that is not suited for densification due to narrow streets.

I imagine you could do a lot of awesome things, but would you make as much money on it?

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The FM 1960-ification is starting at Walmart and will proceed along the new feeder road on both sides of I-10. There are large chunks of land that will become prime targets for big boxes and strip centers on both sides of I-10 (where White Oak bayou isn't in the way). This FM-1960-ification will also proceed down the major thoroughfares. Studemont has a big tract by I-10 (just north of Arnies) that is going to be big boxed very soon.
I predicted this about a year or two ago on this site and was shouted down by several people (I think Niche and I got into it for awhile ^_^). This Walmart development further proves my point. I moved away from Washington and into Midtown three years ago in order to avoid another FM 1960 setting (I grew up along 1960... so I recognized the signs along Washington). Three years since I moved, traffic is far worse along Washington, more shopping centers have sprung up, a Walmart is moving in (as well as other retailers not yet mentioned), and the entire avenue is stuffed with cars and crowds that the infrastructure will never be able to handle. I think in the next five years, you'll see more shopping centers spring up, some "fancy" restaurants will be replaced by more generic chain restaurants, traffic will get worse, and other retailers will move in while the "scene" moves elsewhere. I wouldn't be surprised if an American Eagle or something like that opened up as well. Some people will love the new look of the street, others will hate that the place is so suburban. Edited by brian0123
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You're going to have to be more specific in terms of location and the size of the parcel.

But I feel like I have to point out that once the Wal-Mart is built, the entire neighborhood (and the Heights) will be locked into a veritable nuclear winter of traffic and carcinogenic auto fumes. Nobody will be able to get in or out, and when the next hurricane hits, the runoff from the parking lot will cause epic flooding. It'll be like Hurricane Katrina for white people; they will run amok, set everything ablaze, a firestorm shall ensue, and the whole of the concurrently-flooded neighborhood will burn. And when its all over, land prices in the area will have fallen precipitously (in spite of the high rate of inflation).

Try Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.

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They'll need to run bulldozers from Westcott to Houston Ave, 2 blocks north of Washington and 2 blocks south of it at some point in the future (not to mention bulldoze several brand new developments that are definitely urban) to get anything resembling "suburban" development on Washington. I'm not sure I can think of any particular property on Washington Ave right now that can be described as such, nor any chunk of land of any suitable size. A 1960 size retail center would require blocks and blocks on Washington, maybe the WalMart could be considered "suburban" development in some people's world, but of course, it isn't actually on Washington Ave at all.

Edited by JJxvi
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I imagine you could do a lot of awesome things, but would you make as much money on it?

It is not a question of whether mixed use developments can make money. They can. City Centre is quickly filling up, even after opening in the middle of the recession. There is a very high premium on the Post Oak apartments on W. Gray (the ones above Cyclone Anayas, etc.). West Ave preleased most of its retail space.

Ainbinder originally wanted to do a large mixed use development (including theater, residential, fitness club). But he chickened out when the economy tanked. Fact of the matter is that Ainbinder is a stip mall guy. Always has been, always will be. It takes a different level developer with substantial financial resources to get a mixed use development done. Strip malls and big box developments are cheaper and have less financial risk. So, the answer is yes, you can make excellent money on a mixed use development. The problem is that very few developers can get it done. It is far easier to tilt-wall up a bunch of pads and call in the chains than to build a residential/commercial/retail development. And when the City is ready to put 6 mil up for infrastructure, you can count on the strip mallers to win every time.

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I mean I guess at some point there will be (GASP!) more chains and things moving into centers, but it would take a hell of an apocalypse to change Washington Ave into something other than what anyone would describe as "urban" at this point.

To be clear, when I say 1960ish I don't mean exactly like 1960... I mean a scaled down version. In fact, I don't view Washington as very "urban". It already has a ton of small strip malls w/ parking lots fronting them. You can't really walk anywhere because everything is so spread out up and down the avenue (hence the reason for the "Wave"). Also, it is one main road (Washington) that everything branches from. When I lived along Washington... I had to drive everywhere, and the only place I could really walk to was the corner drug store. Even then, I was almost run over each time I crossed the road.

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To be clear, when I say 1960ish I don't mean exactly like 1960... I mean a scaled down version. In fact, I don't view Washington as very "urban". It already has a ton of small strip malls w/ parking lots fronting them. You can't really walk anywhere because everything is so spread out up and down the avenue (hence the reason for the "Wave"). Also, it is one main road (Washington) that everything branches from. When I lived along Washington... I had to drive everywhere, and the only place I could really walk to was the corner drug store. Even then, I was almost run over each time I crossed the road.

If Washington Avenue was never urban to begin with, since it has always been one long street, then neither Walmart, nor any of the developments built along it, have changed it whatsoever. You and s3mh have taken to blaming all of the development for suburbanizing Washington Avenue, when in fact you admit that it has always been what it is. What is even more strange is that you and s3mh are complaining of the effects of DENSIFICATION! If you do not like density, and it's resulting traffic, quit crying that we need more urban spaces! Washington Avenue is exactly what happens when a locale becomes more urban. More people live there, shop there, and visit there.

I have to say that I am amused at your claim to almost being run over on Washington, when you ended up in Midtown which has at least 4 major thoroughfare that can cause the same result.

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If Washington Avenue was never urban to begin with, since it has always been one long street, then neither Walmart, nor any of the developments built along it, have changed it whatsoever. You and s3mh have taken to blaming all of the development for suburbanizing Washington Avenue, when in fact you admit that it has always been what it is. What is even more strange is that you and s3mh are complaining of the effects of DENSIFICATION! If you do not like density, and it's resulting traffic, quit crying that we need more urban spaces! Washington Avenue is exactly what happens when a locale becomes more urban. More people live there, shop there, and visit there.

I have to say that I am amused at your claim to almost being run over on Washington, when you ended up in Midtown which has at least 4 major thoroughfare that can cause the same result.

well, they are also suburbanizing west gray around Shepherd as well.

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If Washington Avenue was never urban to begin with, since it has always been one long street, then neither Walmart, nor any of the developments built along it, have changed it whatsoever. You and s3mh have taken to blaming all of the development for suburbanizing Washington Avenue, when in fact you admit that it has always been what it is. What is even more strange is that you and s3mh are complaining of the effects of DENSIFICATION! If you do not like density, and it's resulting traffic, quit crying that we need more urban spaces! Washington Avenue is exactly what happens when a locale becomes more urban. More people live there, shop there, and visit there.

I have to say that I am amused at your claim to almost being run over on Washington, when you ended up in Midtown which has at least 4 major thoroughfare that can cause the same result.

I love density (that's why I moved to Midtown). I'm just saying Washington Avenue will only be able to handle so much before it pops like 1960 did and people will be sitting in a long line of cars down the street. I moved to Midtown because I believe Downtown/Midtown are better suited for handling density. Yes, we have major thoroughfares running through the neighborhood... but lights are timed, crosswalks have good signals, we have decent sidewalks, the streets are very wide and one way, streets are also in nicely connected grid instead of dumping onto one main street, and I can hop on the light rail instead of getting in my car. To me, it's night and day from when I lived on Washington.

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I'm just saying Washington Avenue will only be able to handle so much before it pops like 1960 did and people will be sitting in a long line of cars down the street.

Washington is 3 miles long. It is in the middle of the urban grid with a major intersection every 3/4 miles.

While it could be considered a major urban road, considering it parallels I-10 not 1/2 a mile away, it really isn't

1960 is 13 miles from 290 to 45, even longer if you count past 45. It is a major radial thoroughfare that everyone who lives within a few miles of must use in order to get to 290,45,249, or Hardy in order to get to another part of town.

Comparing Washington traffic to 1960 traffic is really really dumb, for realz.

Edited by Highway6
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Washington is 3 miles long. It is in the middle of the urban grid with a major intersection every 3/4 miles.

While it could be considered a major urban road, considering it parallels I-10 not 1/2 a mile away, it really isn't

1960 is 13 miles from 290 to 45, even longer if you count past 45. It is a major radial thoroughfare that everyone who lives within a few miles of must use in order to get to 290,45,249, or Hardy in order to get to another part of town.

Comparing Washington traffic to 1960 traffic is really really dumb, for realz.

While it may not be crazy like 1960, it IS a rather busy street, but I was amazed at the amount of traffic at about 1pm last wednesday.

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While it may not be crazy like 1960, it IS a rather busy street, but I was amazed at the amount of traffic at about 1pm last wednesday.

Washington is a very busy street, because it is lined with restaurants and bars, which draw far more customers than retail shops. One good restaurant can draw 2,000 customers a day to a 6,000 square foot space. A bar might draw that many people into a 3,000 square foot space. By contrast, a 30,000 square foot retail store may also draw 2,000 customers, even though it is 10 times the size of the bar. Additionally, the retail draws customers over a period of 10 to 12 hours, while the bar or restaurant draws most of their customers in a 4 to 6 hour period.

Because Washington is lined with exactly the type of bars and restaurants that the density queens love, it is going to be a busy thoroughfare at night, and around lunchtime. That is the price of success.

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While it may not be crazy like 1960, it IS a rather busy street, but I was amazed at the amount of traffic at about 1pm last wednesday.

But it's no more busy than Shepherd, Kirby, Montrose, Westheimer..... and none of those are carrying near the volume as 1960.

I'm not saying Washington doesn't have traffic.. I am saying comparing it to 1960 is dumb.

If we're going to throw out ROW widths, traffic volumes, function of the road and it's placement in the road/freeway system, then we might as well go all out - "Holy Crap, Washington is gonna be as slam packed as the West Loop parking lot at 530 on a Tuesday afternoon once that strip center gets built."

Edited by Highway6
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washington is not an urban street. you cannot walk between any two restaurants or bars unless they are part of the same commercial center. we can debate whether that makes it more like 1960 or more like kirby or more like Holcolme, but at the end of the day, none of those streets are very urban, so it doesn't do much to add to the debate. the only areas in houston that i think are close to being urban are the village, midtown, and med center, and to a lesser extent parts of montrose/westheimer and the galleria (although walking is dangerous, it's still easy to do).

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It is not a question of whether mixed use developments can make money. They can. City Centre is quickly filling up, even after opening in the middle of the recession. There is a very high premium on the Post Oak apartments on W. Gray (the ones above Cyclone Anayas, etc.). West Ave preleased most of its retail space.

Ainbinder originally wanted to do a large mixed use development (including theater, residential, fitness club). But he chickened out when the economy tanked. Fact of the matter is that Ainbinder is a stip mall guy. Always has been, always will be. It takes a different level developer with substantial financial resources to get a mixed use development done. Strip malls and big box developments are cheaper and have less financial risk. So, the answer is yes, you can make excellent money on a mixed use development. The problem is that very few developers can get it done. It is far easier to tilt-wall up a bunch of pads and call in the chains than to build a residential/commercial/retail development. And when the City is ready to put 6 mil up for infrastructure, you can count on the strip mallers to win every time.

For every Post or West Ave there's a Regent Square or Sonoma. But all four of these are in considerably more desirable locations than the Walmart site, bordered on three sides by a stone yard, a vacant lot and a railroad.

And how much do you think the Upper Kirby TIRZ has kicked in for infrastructure surrounding West Ave?

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The FM 1960-ification is starting at Walmart and will proceed along the new feeder road on both sides of I-10. There are large chunks of land that will become prime targets for big boxes and strip centers on both sides of I-10 (where White Oak bayou isn't in the way). This FM-1960-ification will also proceed down the major thoroughfares. Studemont has a big tract by I-10 (just north of Arnies) that is going to be big boxed very soon.

The 10 unit townhouses crammed into single family lots on streets with 21 ft streets is the idoit's densification. The streets cannot handle the cars that will not fit in the small garages of each unit, much less the parking needed for visitors. The smart and efficient way to promote densification is to do it on the larger tracts. That way you can plan for sufficient multilevel parking for residents, visitors and customers of mixed use businesses instead of leaving it to chance whether the streets will fill up with extra cars (it is just a matter of time before parking makes Shady Acres unbearable). Thus, with the Walmart tract, you could have put up housing for several hundred without any impact on parking. Instead, the FM 1960 development model pushes residential into an area that is not suited for densification due to narrow streets.

The new feeders are going in between Shepherd and Yale, and between Studemont and Taylor, all of which is pretty much already occupied in relatively small tracts. The Studemont site seems to be the only sizeable un-developed tract. Maybe that's a good spot for the oft-rumored Heights HEB; doubt that would see much resistance around here.

With respect to densification, we can't expect it all to come in the form of centrally-planned mixed-use development. In order for "urban-style" development to be feasible, land prices need to be about $50/sf or more. At that price, a full-size Heights lot would cost $330k, and a typical single family house would be in the $750k range. That would divide the populace into two groups: apartment dwellers and those who can afford 3/4 of a million for a house. But there's a pretty big market demand for townhouses and single family residences in the $250 to $500k range. In order for that market to be served in a situation of rising land value, full-size lots need to be subdivided. In the Heights, this tends to take the form of dividing a 50-ft lot into two 25-ft lots, and providing two houses in the $400-450k range. In shady acres, it tends to take the form central-driveway townhouse developments in the $250-350k range.

A lot of these streets may currently have 21-ft roadways, but there's no reason to take this as a given, or as a reason to prevent development. Residential densification brings with it a need for improvements in infrastructure. As areas like Shady Acres densify, the increased property tax revenue (and that Prop 1 revenue) should be used to curb and gutter the streets, which widens the roadway and helps to accommodate additional on-street parking. There's a whole lot of ROW in these areas that can be used to alleviate the traffic and parking issues. There are lots of denser places with much narrower ROWs than shady acres (e.g. Brooklyn, south Philly, parts of Boston, etc.).

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I love density (that's why I moved to Midtown). I'm just saying Washington Avenue will only be able to handle so much before it pops like 1960 did and people will be sitting in a long line of cars down the street. I moved to Midtown because I believe Downtown/Midtown are better suited for handling density. Yes, we have major thoroughfares running through the neighborhood... but lights are timed, crosswalks have good signals, we have decent sidewalks, the streets are very wide and one way, streets are also in nicely connected grid instead of dumping onto one main street, and I can hop on the light rail instead of getting in my car. To me, it's night and day from when I lived on Washington.

1960 and this hypothetical gridlocked Washington have almost nothing in common. 1960 really is a major thoroughfare that is THE major route along its entire length to actually get somewhere. Washington Ave is more of a destination and neighborhood road. Anybody in the area that is actually going somewhere more than a mile away gets on Memorial or I-10 to get there assuming they are going East or West.

Edited by JJxvi
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Washington Ave is definitely urban. It certainly isn't rural, so we can mark that off the list. It isn't suburban. I'm not sure that the street has any of the traits common to typical suburban development. It's not low density, especially when compared to the surrouding CITY. There certainly is no marked separation, zoning, or planning of residential, commercial, and industrial areas. Single family homes on large lots do not dominate the area, and in fact the area is populated by apartment and townhome dwellers chiefy. Nor is everything single level, and low density. There are no large shopping malls or retail centers along the street, there is not even a single style of commercial development that dominates. The only way Washington Ave is not "urban" is if you take the view that urban=pedestrian friendly. Very, very few places in Houston is truly pedestrian friendly. Houston, like Washington Ave in its present state was built in the era of the automobile, but nobody is going to argue that Houston isn't a major urban center. Just like Washington isnt somehow not "urban" because there's a parking lot in front of a lot of centers.

I also laugh at Washington not being walkable, perhaps thats true since it hasnt been designed to this point with that in mind, but lots of people apparently try. 2.5 million people live in this city and the vast majority of people don't walk anywhere, but we are going to say that this one little district where there are actually people walking around every night isn't very urban because its not walkable?

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On the other hand, 1960 fails the urban test on almost every acccount. It clearly is suburban. It is low density compared to areas closer to the city with very large distances between individual business sites, and between developments, and even interswections. There is very clear separation, and in a lot of cases planning, of commercial zones and retail zones, and usually even separation between different densities of each type. Apartments or townhomes clearly segregated from single family homes. The single family home population, dominates the area. Large homes, on large lots, clearly suburban. Huge power shopping centers dominate the commercial zones, and two huge regional shopping malls anchor the major intersections with other major routes. Certainly no one in their right mind walks any further than another place in the same shopping center, and no one would park their car curbside along 1960 either, unlike Washington, where curbside parking is actually the major cause of traffic congestion and not the actual traffic count. (My guess is that very few of those people parked right in front of the door of the place they want to get into either, most probably, umm, walked down the street to reach their final destination)

Edited by JJxvi
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On the other hand, 1960 fails the urban test on almost every acccount. It clearly is suburban. It is low density compared to areas closer to the city with very large distances between individual business sites, and between developments, and even interswections. There is very clear separation, and in a lot of cases planning, of commercial zones and retail zones, and usually even separation between different densities of each type. Apartments or townhomes clearly segregated from single family homes. The single family home population, dominates the area. Large homes, on large lots, clearly suburban. Huge power shopping centers dominate the commercial zones, and two huge regional shopping malls anchor the major intersections with other major routes. Certainly no one in their right mind walks any further than another place in the same shopping center, and no one would park their car curbside along 1960 either, unlike Washington, where curbside parking is actually the major cause of traffic congestion and not the actual traffic count. (My guess is that very few of those people parked right in front of the door of the place they want to get into either, most probably, umm, walked down the street to reach their final destination)

Look at the plans for the Walmart development and the ORR development between Heights and Yale. There is your FM 1960. All strip malls with Walmart as a big box anchor. Where Walmart goes, other big boxes will follow. Add the new stretch of feeder along I-10, and big boxes will begin to spring up everytime an old industrial facility moves out (like the one on the NW corner of I-10 and Yale). A few developers have done a decent job of putting parking in back, widening sidewalks out front on Washington and putting office space above retail. But, Orr and Ainbinder's strip mall will throw the area firmly in the direction of FM 1960. Why should anyone else take a chance on a mixed use development when the major retail development in the area is pure FM 1960? Developers are sheep. If Ainbinder and Orr fill up their space, everyone else will look to do a strip mall. Land use economics is efficient for the developer. The developer gets the fast easy cash from a strip mall. Everyone else has to eat the externalities.

And you need to try to drive Washington Ave late on a Friday or Saturday night. The actual traffic count is the cause of congestion. 5-6 pm is also pretty crappy on Shep/Stude/Heights/Yale. No parking issues. Just lots of cars.

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I went to 360 Sports Lounge tonight with a couple of friends to watch some football. Parked in the parking garage behind the 3 story building. The first floor is bar and restaurants, with office space above. The building sits about 15 feet from Washington Ave. As I stood outside enjoying a smoke and looking down Washington at all of the new and renovated buildings, I was struck by how utterly ignorant those who call Washington "suburban" must be. The street literally pulses with activity, the veritable definition of an urban area. The only people who could possibly believe the myth that Washington is suburban are those who have never been there. And frankly, who cares what they think.

And you need to try to drive Washington Ave late on a Friday or Saturday night. The actual traffic count is the cause of congestion. 5-6 pm is also pretty crappy on Shep/Stude/Heights/Yale. No parking issues. Just lots of cars.

Yeah, that's what I keep saying about Manhattan. What's your point? That you aren't cut out for city life? If so, I agree with you.

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Look at the plans for the Walmart development and the ORR development between Heights and Yale. There is your FM 1960. All strip malls with Walmart as a big box anchor. Where Walmart goes, other big boxes will follow. Add the new stretch of feeder along I-10, and big boxes will begin to spring up everytime an old industrial facility moves out (like the one on the NW corner of I-10 and Yale). A few developers have done a decent job of putting parking in back, widening sidewalks out front on Washington and putting office space above retail. But, Orr and Ainbinder's strip mall will throw the area firmly in the direction of FM 1960. Why should anyone else take a chance on a mixed use development when the major retail development in the area is pure FM 1960? Developers are sheep

Pretty interesting, but while living in Chicago over the last few years, 1 of the n.hoods that I lived in (South Loop-Museum Park) was VERY URBAN, but yet less than a mile away, there were several Big Boxes (Target, Dominques=Albertson's with a Mega Huge Parking lot, Home Depot, Several Banks, Starbuck's, Panera, Petsmart , Jason's Deli, etc)

Some of it was mixed use and multi-level, but also very car friendly if you could tolerate the traffic. Sounds a little like what's near Washington? What about off of I-10?

Was this area accessible without a car? Yes, but people rarely walked and were always in their cars. The Orr Development and Walmart Development are and will be in areas that aren't and will probably never be considered as primary residential locations(i.e.remember the townhomes on heights near r.road track :rolleyes:), so why not let some infill occur in those areas??

As mentioned earlier these areas ARE NOT on Washington Ave. and aren't CONSIDERED WASHINGTON AVE and serve more as "Off of I-10" retail options, just like Target. Walmart and Orr's Marketing team are just using the Washintgton Ave/Heights Connection due to proximity.

The 1960 reference is just ridiculous :doh:

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I went to 360 Sports Lounge tonight with a couple of friends to watch some football. Parked in the parking garage behind the 3 story building. The first floor is bar and restaurants, with office space above. The building sits about 15 feet from Washington Ave. As I stood outside enjoying a smoke and looking down Washington at all of the new and renovated buildings, I was struck by how utterly ignorant those who call Washington "suburban" must be. The street literally pulses with activity, the veritable definition of an urban area. The only people who could possibly believe the myth that Washington is suburban are those who have never been there. And frankly, who cares what they think.

I'm by no means calling Washington suburban... but I'm also not calling it truly urban either. To me, it feels like a place sort of stuck in between. There are parts of Washington I really like... other parts I don't. The pulsing street you are marveling at right now consists of people coming to Washington because it's the "scene" right now. Once the scene moves on, the question is what will Washington look like?

In my opinion, there will be a lot more strip malls... but with tenants that don't attract the "bar-hop place to place to pay $ for a drink/meal really worth $ type". The strip malls will have tenants like dentist offices, pet shops, Dominoes, Little Caesars, Taco Cabana, golf shops, frame stores, comic book shops, etc. The north part of the neighborhood will be lined with Walmart, Target, Chili's, etc. People currently putting up with living next to train tracks (for the sake of being close to the party) move to the next party. The street will be lined with lots of establishments that attract a lot of people... but people who drive to the establishments (you don't bar-hop from a dentist office to Little Ceasars). It will be a decent neighborhood in an urban area... but there will be a lot of cars. It will be urban because it's in the city... but with suburban type retailers with lots of cars, very few parks, and will be hard to bike/walk around. It's going to be like a Pearland Town Center (or mini 1960) stretched out along a long road.

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Look at the plans for the Walmart development and the ORR development between Heights and Yale. There is your FM 1960. All strip malls with Walmart as a big box anchor. Where Walmart goes, other big boxes will follow. Add the new stretch of feeder along I-10, and big boxes will begin to spring up everytime an old industrial facility moves out (like the one on the NW corner of I-10 and Yale). A few developers have done a decent job of putting parking in back, widening sidewalks out front on Washington and putting office space above retail. But, Orr and Ainbinder's strip mall will throw the area firmly in the direction of FM 1960. Why should anyone else take a chance on a mixed use development when the major retail development in the area is pure FM 1960? Developers are sheep. If Ainbinder and Orr fill up their space, everyone else will look to do a strip mall. Land use economics is efficient for the developer. The developer gets the fast easy cash from a strip mall. Everyone else has to eat the externalities.

And you need to try to drive Washington Ave late on a Friday or Saturday night. The actual traffic count is the cause of congestion. 5-6 pm is also pretty crappy on Shep/Stude/Heights/Yale. No parking issues. Just lots of cars.

I would say one of the major causes of traffic moving slow on Washington on Friday/Saturday nights is all of the PEOPLE that are in the street, constantly crossing the street to get to/from restaurants/bars. That sounds just like 1960.... (you can see prime examples of this by eating at El Rey during this time)

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RedScare--while you were out smoking and thinking of other's ignorance, did you check out the countless new strip shopping centers that now line Washington? Or, did you look to the east to see the Walgreens and it's parking lot? To the west to see the CVS and its huge parking lot? Perhaps you looked across from El Rey to see the Jack 'n the Box? (All that said, I will agree that the building that the 360 Lounge is in is the best new building on Washington in terms of creating something urban.)

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I went to 360 Sports Lounge tonight with a couple of friends to watch some football. Parked in the parking garage behind the 3 story building. The first floor is bar and restaurants, with office space above. The building sits about 15 feet from Washington Ave. As I stood outside enjoying a smoke and looking down Washington at all of the new and renovated buildings, I was struck by how utterly ignorant those who call Washington "suburban" must be. The street literally pulses with activity, the veritable definition of an urban area. The only people who could possibly believe the myth that Washington is suburban are those who have never been there. And frankly, who cares what they think.

Yeah, that's what I keep saying about Manhattan. What's your point? That you aren't cut out for city life? If so, I agree with you.

The point is that this is the last place where people should be doing suburban big box anchored strip malls. If you think it is a good thing to let development run wild and create Manhattan-esque traffic in a city with no subway system, then that is your problem. The rest of us would like to use our brains and see development that is appropriate for the area and that improves the area, instead of lining the pockets of one developer and giving Walmart symbolic competition with the nearby Target.

The development with the 360 bar is what should be on Washington. Mixed use with a multilevel parking garage in back that balances day time commercial with night time restaurants and bars is a good efficient use of space. The traffic impact is reasonable because the development is limited in the sq footage that is there for night time use.

A 152k sq ft Walmart with another 80-100k sq ft of strip mall space is not what needs to go into the West End. If you think that is what city life is, then you have probably only read about Manhattan in magazines.

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RedScare--while you were out smoking and thinking of other's ignorance, did you check out the countless new strip shopping centers that now line Washington? Or, did you look to the east to see the Walgreens and it's parking lot? To the west to see the CVS and its huge parking lot? Perhaps you looked across from El Rey to see the Jack 'n the Box? (All that said, I will agree that the building that the 360 Lounge is in is the best new building on Washington in terms of creating something urban.)

You're not thinking of urban, you're thinking of an area that would be most convenient to travel by some means other than by car.

Washington, due to it's nature as a linear street, will always be most convenient to travel by car. where a parking lot is doesn't make it more convenient to travel by walking, or biking, or mass transit.

Look at an area like Midtown, do you think it is more urban because there are less CVS, or Walgreens, or stripmalls? Not hardly, There's plenty of surface parking butting up to the streets in midtown, right next to the 'great urban example' of the post midtown, there's a CVS with a big parking lot, and 2 strip malls, one with a BW3, and one with a Starbucks.

What makes Midtown more urban in some peoples mind is the grid layout of the streets, and that there isn't one main street, but many. Washington is what? 1 street, a few cross streets. that's linear, one dimensional.

somewhere on here I've seen examples of walkability, and blocks situated like they are in midtown make for easy travel by walking.

but blame it all on the walmart if you want, target is already there and washington isn't less or more walkable as a result.

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Would like to get your feedback on land prices in the Rice Military / West End area. Is $30/sq.ft a reasonable price or is that high or on the low side.

Will be interesting to get feedback on this question now and 5-6 years later once all the development on Washington has taken place, and Yale is redone with the new Walmart and the fancy gas lamps on the repaved bridge across the Bayou!!!

I guess we got a little off topic, but to the OP. If you can purchase land for $30/sq. ft..............GO FOR IT.

$30 is somewhat on the lower side depending where the property is located in the area (i.e. proximity to Washington/Westcott/Memorial or I-10 and how developed the surrounding area is). For example, there are properties that are nearly and above $50 /sq.ft (this was mentioned earlier, but HCAD's #'s are always on the lower side due to the taxpayers benefit) as you approach Memorial Drive. Is this b/c you're getting further away from Washington Ave or is it b/c that area is practically fully developed/gentrified?

There are also areas that split the difference between Washington and I-10 that are in the $35-45 range, but I would venture to say that in the LONG RUN, the closer you get to Washington or the halfway point of that area b/w Wash and I-10, the better value you will get . I know wash. ave. has come a long way and it still has a long way to go, but the area is so much better than it was 5-6 years ago when it was a virtual ghost town (abandoned buildings, used car lots, etc.).

Edited by sowanome
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The development with the 360 bar is what should be on Washington. Mixed use with a multilevel parking garage in back that balances day time commercial with night time restaurants and bars is a good efficient use of space. The traffic impact is reasonable because the development is limited in the sq footage that is there for night time use.

A 152k sq ft Walmart with another 80-100k sq ft of strip mall space is not what needs to go into the West End. If you think that is what city life is, then you have probably only read about Manhattan in magazines.

I think 4601 Washington is a great example of the kind of development that should be happening in this corridor. Problem is, that tract is 60k s.f. with 300-ft of Washington frontage. The Walmart portion of the Ainbinder site is 10x that size (with only about twice the major-thoroughfare frontage). The portion of the development at the SW corner of Yale and Koehler, by ordinance, can't front Yale in the same way that 4601 Washington fronts Washington, since it's part of a larger parcel. I think the developer would be smart to do the buildings on the other side of Yale more in this style (if for no other reason than to differentiate from the rest of the development), but on the large parcel, they really can't.

The other problem with the size of the parcel is the size of the investment. Doing a mixed-use project of that size is probably a 9-figure proposition. It would be more total retail square footage (West Ave is 190k s.f. of retail, but it's on two levels, so the Koehler site would probably need 300k s.f.), but without a large anchor tenant. That makes it very difficult to secure financing. The fact that the anchor tenant is Walmart is the reason for much of the complaining, but it's Walmart's money that's making ANY development of this tract possible (HEB sat on it for 2 years). And if that development finally spurs ORR to do something with the rest of that area, then it's an improvement.

The Stop Walmart group had some nice drawings done which split the parcel into several blocks, and maybe that would have been a nice addition to the area. But that kind of development just isn't likely to get financed. Just ask the folks living in Regent Square. Opposing ANYthing on that site unless it's a utopian vision of new urbanism would result in this land staying vacant for the foreseeable future. It'd be much more productive to lobby Ainbinder and Orr for design and density improvements to the parts of the development between Heights and Yale and forget about fighting Walmart. In fact, the sale of that portion of the development to Walmart is what may make more urban-style development of the rest of the area possible.

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The point is that this is the last place where people should be doing suburban big box anchored strip malls. If you think it is a good thing to let development run wild and create Manhattan-esque traffic in a city with no subway system, then that is your problem. The rest of us would like to use our brains and see development that is appropriate for the area and that improves the area, instead of lining the pockets of one developer and giving Walmart symbolic competition with the nearby Target.

The development with the 360 bar is what should be on Washington. Mixed use with a multilevel parking garage in back that balances day time commercial with night time restaurants and bars is a good efficient use of space. The traffic impact is reasonable because the development is limited in the sq footage that is there for night time use.

A 152k sq ft Walmart with another 80-100k sq ft of strip mall space is not what needs to go into the West End. If you think that is what city life is, then you have probably only read about Manhattan in magazines.

For someone who sure is loud about what everyone else should do, what are YOU doing to help this situation. Why don't YOU get investors together and build what YOU think Washington businesses should look like. With all the different streets that run in parallel to washington, it will never be what your are trying to make it out to be. As stated before, the deveolpments that you speak of and want (like that of the 360 bar) will draw much more traffic than a big box retailer of similar size. Your argument for why they shouldn't be there (yet again) is simply a guise so you can slam big box retailers. You don't honestly care about the traffic, or you'd want NO development on Washington.

And quit saying things like "the rest of us" "we". You don't speak for everyone. Frankly we're tired of it (haha you see what i did there?)

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Would like to get your feedback on land prices in the Rice Military / West End area. Is $30/sq.ft a reasonable price or is that high or on the low side.

Will be interesting to get feedback on this question now and 5-6 years later once all the development on Washington has taken place, and Yale is redone with the new Walmart and the fancy gas lamps on the repaved bridge across the Bayou!!!

sorry for not addressing the topic...

This seems pretty reasonable (not knowing any rurther details). I've been looking at lots around 10,000 sq ft and they seem to range from the $25-40 per sq. ft range. Of course the price can vary drastically depending on where on washington, whats on the lot, etc.

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As stated before, the deveolpments that you speak of and want (like that of the 360 bar) will draw much more traffic than a big box retailer of similar size.

What I have done is talked to traffic engineers, read the City's design manual, talked to urban design/planning experts and generally educated myself about the issues, whether legal, economic or social. I have done more than that, but am not willing to share that on a message board inhabited largely by right wingers who believe that developer's poop doesn't smell. So, let's just say I have done plenty, and there is much more to come.

And don't give me the "why don't you buy the land" crap. We still live in a democracy. Land use affects everyone. Government has a legitimate interest in regulating the externalities of land use decisions. Houston doesn't have zoning, but traffic impact analysis, drainage requirments and parking lot ordinances are almost as powerful land use regulations.

On the other hand, you obviously don't have a clue when you throw out something like the quote above. Traffic volumes for different uses are well established in traffic engineer's manuals. Big box retail always has more car trips than office space because the office tenants come and go once a day, maybe twice if they go out for lunch. And unless you are talking about a high traffic medical office, office tenants have very little traffic in terms of vistors over the course of a day. And office traffic is largely done by 6 pm when the restaurant/bar traffic picks up. A big box has customers coming and going all day. Thus, their traffic counts are always significantly higher than similar mixed use developments. The main argument for mixed use instead of the Walmart development is lower traffic counts, and much higher tax value per sq ft because you are building up and building for the immediate area, not for a 3-4 mile radius of grocery and consumer goods shoppers.

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I have done more than that, but am not willing to share that on a message board inhabited largely by right wingers who believe that developer's poop doesn't smell.

Translation: Every time I have posted an argument, it has been obliterated by those who can see right through my made up statistics, so I'm not going to do it again.

Face it, dude. For all the studies you claim to have read, not once have you ever posted a reliable statistic or source. Ever. The reason is simple. They don't support your argument. You are what is known as an outlier. Your views and opinions do not represent the mainstream of thought. On this thread, only one other poster even remotely agreed with you, but for different reasons. He at least was honest in admitting that he simply prefered Midtown's grid to Washington's linear layout. You, though, attempt to link everything bad within the loop to a proposed Walmart. It isn't even built yet. It can't have any effect until it's built.

The Walmart is getting built. Your rants and made up statistics have swayed no one. You lose. Might as well move, because your utopia will never materialize.

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sorry for not addressing the topic...

This seems pretty reasonable (not knowing any further details). I've been looking at lots around 10,000 sq ft and they seem to range from the $25-40 per sq. ft range. Of course the price can vary drastically depending on where on washington, whats on the lot, etc.

SilverJK and Sowanome, thanks for the feedback and for staying on topic. The lot is empty, has decent access, and is located close to Heighs between I10 and Washington. I know a couple of years ago land in the area was close to $32-$40 per sf ft and wanted to get feedback if the downturn, plans to build Walmart have reduced the prices. I guess only time will tell. Appreciate the feedback from this forum.

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Traffic volumes for different uses are well established in traffic engineer's manuals. Big box retail always has more car trips than office space because the office tenants come and go once a day, maybe twice if they go out for lunch. And unless you are talking about a high traffic medical office, office tenants have very little traffic in terms of vistors over the course of a day. And office traffic is largely done by 6 pm when the restaurant/bar traffic picks up. A big box has customers coming and going all day. Thus, their traffic counts are always significantly higher than similar mixed use developments. The main argument for mixed use instead of the Walmart development is lower traffic counts, and much higher tax value per sq ft because you are building up and building for the immediate area, not for a 3-4 mile radius of grocery and consumer goods shoppers.

Office buildings generate a tremendous amount of traffic only twice per day. Retail generates a somewhat steady number of trips throughout the day (and night). A traffic engineer will tell you that new roadways are designed with peak loads in mind, so as to alleviate congestion and enhance safety during the times of day where the infrastructure is utilized beyond capacity.

Also: I would point out that induced trips are an indication of preference. If the Wal-Mart generates lots of trips, then obviously lots of people prefer it to the range of alternatives. That's good! On the other hand, if the Wal-Mart generates many fewer trips than expected, then that's a problem because the utility of the land was squandered. But you can't have your cake and eat it too; if you choose to argue that traffic will be a problem, then you can't argue that the Wal-Mart will be unsuccessful or unpopular.

Also: An increased traffic count is exactly what retail developers look for, and land prices will increase correspondingly to the point that dense development is the only financially justifiable option. Unless you're genuinely concerned that Washington Avenue will lose its appeal because its too busy, a contradiction in terms, then you might should rethink your position.

Also: I'm not convinced that large built-up mixed use projects generate less traffic when developed out-of-context of an already built-up neighborhood. The projects are not self-sustaining arcologies; they cannot be supported by low-density neighborhoods of single-family homes, a few pockets of townhomes, and a bunch of nearby industrial land uses.

Also: What do you think happens to land values when a municipality mandates a parcel's use that is other than its highest and best economic use? And remember. Land values persist, but improvements depreciate.

Also: I'm not rebutting you because I'm politically biased on this issue. I'm rebutting you because its entertaining to watch you dance around the issues, and you won't do that unless prompted by the likes of me.

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