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arrodiii

Houston Pavillions in Trouble?

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Disappear for a couple of days and threads can really take off....

Redscare

First, as far as homeless treatment, I am not part of the group who just does not want to see them. I am also however not someone who thinks handouts are the correct response either. Don't imply you know who I am, I do not know you but I am not for anarchy as your photo would imply.

Second, you say my opinion can stay in Uptown. I beg to differ, you would like more people in downtown. I am one of the people who wants to live in downtown, wants it to be a thriving environment, and would benefit from living in downtown to reduce my commute. If you look at my other posts in this thread, I was saying that the Pavilion will benefit from the new convention center and that if stores close down they will reopen. If you look at my other posts throughout this forum, I am making suggestions to improve downtown and to bring tourism money in.

We are having a discussion about what causes people not to live there. I am giving you an example of why two people do not live there and that is the lack of feeling safe, whether it is justified or not. Truth be told anything can happen anywhere, it is the illusion of safety that people flock to. You of course can have your opinion that homeless do not cause people not to live downtown. I am saying that it is a big reason I currently do not live there, combined with the lack of downtown patrols and a community feeling.

People should not try to plan to improve downtown? Really??

That statement is ridiculous. Downtown needs to compete with every community in the metro area for residents. The areas that are growing the fastest are areas that are planned. We can plan a downtown area, we need to and actually we are now. If we are being honest, everything in Uptown from the high end shopping to the restaurants to Williams tower should be in downtown but it is not, and the reason is because Houston was not planned to force that.

We have to ask the question why to people leave at 5. That is not the problem, that is the symptom. Downtown needs to compete with every growing metro area within 2 hours of the city in every category, entertainment, shopping, restaurants and yes the illusion of safety.

I gave you a clear reason why i do not live there. I have in other post suggested ways to improve the city and make it more attractive for more people.

What are your ideas?

Planning will not force people to live downtown and neither will exterminating the homeless.

The homeless do not scare off most people except the for the clueless or the spineless. I worked downtown for years. The homeless are not terrible monsters that are lurking to drag you beneath the sewers and feast on your bones. If you have never been to the big city before, perhaps they are intimidating when they ask for spare change, but to the vast majority of the people downtown they are completely ignored.

People do not live downtown because better alternatives are available. Yes, people could be "made" to live downtown. We could have land use regulations so tight that Houston is basically limited to an inside the loop footprint or smaller. And I know that's a wet dream for many on here. But one of two things would result. Either, Houston would be much smaller and a lot of the benefits that we have of living in a city of 5 million would not exist (How about that art scene in Lubbock?) or cost of living would be on par with New York, Tokyo, etc.

But since Houston was not planned, and has no real geographical limitations (i.e. NY, Hong Kong,), why would a person pay more to live downtown when a reasonably comparable property can be acquired outside of downtown. Yes, you are not living in a 40-story condo in dt, but what is fundamentally different in a 6 story building in mid-town? You might have a 1-2 mile more commute which is negligible and less stairs to walk down when the elevator breaks, but other than the hit to your bank account - what is the difference? Developers (i.e. - people who actually have to put their money where their mouth is) know this and guess where they are building.

Houston is attractive to people for exactly these reasons. It is an inexpensive place to live where you can get a good job and live in more housing than you can get in most any other metro area in the US for the same price. People tend to like that. That's why Houston is steadily growing these past few years while other places have been feeling the pain.

As for the miracles of planning. How about throwing a billion $ or so at downtown. Seems tohave worked for well for Buffalo...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204409004577156603296740624.html

I am not making the rules, just expressing frustration.

The most "famous" homeless man in Uptown has one leg, so not so intimidating. Sit's right over by Neiman's on Post Oak. Some of the others play musical instruments, which I guess also decreases their fear factor.

In all seriousness, there are cops usually standing at that corner of Post Oak in addition to the uptown patrol cars that drive around and I think there are a recognizable 5 to 10 that frequent that area. If you head down Post Oak and into the Uptown Park bars and restaurants you rarely see any and that's where we end up going out.

As for this

have you been there?

Yeah, I know the "famous" one-legged homeless man. Hits me up every day for money on my way to the bus stop. He knows parts of exactly 3 songs that he repeats ad nauseum except at Christmas time when he expands his playlist a bit. He ran off the guy in the wheelchair a while back with no legs. He can be a mean ol cuss. There are about six other regulars at that bus stop. Interestingly enough, the only police I have ever seen there was the one time they were chasing a pair of shoplifters out of Nieman's onto Post Oak. Bit of live C.O.P.S. entertainment as they were climbing over cars to get away. Guess the cops are closer down to Westheimer.

Yeah - and my comment about the Spring Chickees at the Galleria - well aware of them. Worked in a building attached to the mall for 4 years. Can't avoid them. That was my point - all the scary homeless in front of Neiman's, and on Westheimer won't deter a suburbanite from an after-Christmas sale at Abercrombie & Fitch - why on earth would it scare them from getting lit at a club downtown?

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Dealing with downtown homeless isn't a big deal at all. I've been in downtown enough to know most of the pitches, sad stories, scams, etc.

if one of them even says a word other than "good morning," I just say "no." and move on.

If you don't have the guts to deal with a bum who just wants "fifty cents" for the bus, then you need to seriously grow a spine.

Usually, my sympathy goes to the ones who just sit there and mumble to themselves and look dejected who are NOT asking for a handout.

Yeah, I know who those guys are as well.

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Pleak, you make a lot of very good points, I have just a few discussion pieces.

People do not live downtown because better alternatives are available. Yes, people could be "made" to live downtown. We could have land use regulations so tight that Houston is basically limited to an inside the loop footprint or smaller. And I know that's a wet dream for many on here. But one of two things would result. Either, Houston would be much smaller and a lot of the benefits that we have of living in a city of 5 million would not exist (How about that art scene in Lubbock?) or cost of living would be on par with New York, Tokyo, etc.

I was not talking about forcing anyone to live anywhere. What I meant was that "attractions" like the high end shopping and the restaurants that follow it being downtown would mean there were more people there after hours. As you are familiar, the galleria mall is pretty quite during working hours and picks up to its heaviest use on the weekends. Something like that would complement the working crowd of downtown well, and attract the hotels and residential areas that go along with it. The cost of living might be much higher in downtown itself but as the city is extremely spread out, I believe the most spread out large city in the country if not the world (if someone knows where we really rank I would be interested) I think most areas would still be pretty affordable. That is the bit of planning I was talking about. If you remove uptown (yes where I live), which is outside the loop from the Houston metro area you would also probably have the businesses that are there spread throughout the other business centers and some additional downtown and the area would most likely resemble Bellaire.

As for the miracles of planning. How about throwing a billion $ or so at downtown. Seems tohave worked for well for Buffalo...

http://online.wsj.co...3296740624.html

I think it's fair to say Houston has a lot more going for it than Buffalo.

Also, we are fastest growing in master planned communities as well not just the free for all areas.

http://www.bizjourna...er-planned.html

I'm done talking about panhandlers, wish I never brought it up, I stand by what I've said in this thread, I think I was pretty clear about everything but not going to repeat anything. The single thing I did learn and was actually a constructive point is that they are by city ordinance not allowed to ask more than once.

Edited by Nick_G

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I agree with Nick G and largeTEXAS on many issues. I don't think people should come down so harsh on him just because they don't understand his POV. Face it, The homelessness is unattractive and does tend to shoo people away from downtown. I'm not saying that is the only problem, but it is a problem. It's just the way it is. I'm not degrading them as human beings, but the problem really is in the location of the homeless shelters such as sheltering arms, star of hope, and others being directly under the pierce elevated. If those homeless are denied entrance to those facilities, where are they going to go? Under a bridge downtown.

I also agree with largeTEXAS that more lighting needs to be put downtown, and yes that includes a few neon signs. He and i have been in agreement on this issue for years since i first joined HAIF. I always felt Downtown's subdued lighting looks boring and doesn't really stand out enough to attract people. There's plenty of venues downtown, but you don't know it because of its not visible.

I moved to Houston in 2004. While i was impressed with the "then" newly redeveloped Main Street/light rail segment, I quickly learned that the rest of downtown was pretty drowsy. I honestly expected more when i visited the downtown of the 4th largest city in the U.S. Even Denver, Colorado (which is 1/2 the size of Houston) has a pretty hopping downtown that almost feels like a mini-mini Manhattan. People said that downtown had come a long way then since 1999. That must have meant that downtown Houston in the 90s was in reeall bad shape!

Now, to end my btch rant, I applaud what has been going on in downtown's eastside in the recent years. It seems like they're really making efforts to create a sense of place. The new Embassy Suites Hotel (abeit the ugly design) sitting right on the park and the new Phoenicia grocery store have breathed new life to that side of downtown. Although I am a little disappointed that Houston Pavilions hasn't really taken off yet, I am appreciative of it as a development and the few new things it's added to downtown such as: HOB, Lucky Strike, and Books a Million, and the other 2 or 3 pieces of retail stores it added. The Buffalo Bayou walk in Buffalo Bayou park, and the new symphony building are all nice. I also appreciate the developments of the 90s such as: Bayou Place, and the Cotswold Project, MMP, and the new millineum Toyota Center.

We have to get more people living downtown and that means filling the voids by making the venues more visible. Phoenicia Grocery store was an awesome addition. More pronounced lighting on the buildings and some signage would be a great start. Then we will be able to see these developments begin to thrive.

C2H (ComingtoHoustion)/stoneclaw

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Although I disagree with C2H that gimmicky lighting has any effect really at all on retail sales (and I cite Dallas' Victory as evidence of that), and although I do make fun of people that are intimidated by the homeless or that imply a willingness to try and displace them, I have to say...they do scare people off and suppress sales. Its just true. There's no getting around it. Its hard to say which is the greater problem, that consumers are easily intimidated or that the homeless exist, but neither circumstance is likely to change as a result of anything we can say or do on this forum.

One of the stories that I tried to tell (twice, and which keeps getting censored by the moderators), is that I made a girl that was with me cry once by refusing to give a "devoutly christian" homeless guy money for a "sandwich" at midnight. So yeah, I get where Nick_G is coming from. There are parts of downtown where a guy just can't walk around with a girl without getting hassled by a vagrant that thinks he has social leverage in the situation. And often, they do have leverage. My dining-out habits reflect the possibility that a date might be put off by an encounter with them.

(So yes, overly-zealous moderators, the homeless are relevant to Houston Pavilions being in Trouble, which is the topic of this thread, and my experiences and input are on-topic and relate to that issue. You don't have to like me, but quit messing with me!)

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Any update on The NBCsports network in th Pavillions?

I thought it was a new Comcast sports network. I can't remember where I read about it yesterday.

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TheNiche, what type of lighting do you consider "gimmicky?" By Houston standards, it seems as though any lighting that is more involved/thought-out/decorative than the barest of bare-bones utilitarian falls into the category of "gimmicky."

In my opinion, add a little strategic lighting to a few key buildings, bridges, and landscaping, and all-the-sudden Houston is a much more attractive and inviting city.

I'd like to take a page from places like Singapore, New Orleans, Tokyo, Sapporo (in the winter), Montreal, Miami, Paris, or, even, Hong Kong. When can we get over comparing ourselves to Dallas all the time?! Houston should stop restricting landlords and let the market downtown dictate the lighting. If a building owner wants to sell space to an electronic billboard company, let them. Variety is a good thing (or, the spice of life or whatever). Blocks and blocks of blank walls is a bad thing. Or, even better, create a initiative with Central Houston and key landlords and encourage more and better lighting implementation.

Houston, especially downtown, needs more PPPs. A stronger and better-informed, well-traveled public sector should be able to guide our center city towards becoming a more visually-interesting, unique place - gimmicky and all.

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Lighting did not make any of the cities above what they are today. Everyone of them (except for New Orleans) is an extremely dense populated city - many with significant natural barriers to expansion. Singapore, Hong Kong have practically no land and what land they do have has been reclaimed from the ocean. Miami is hemmed in on a strip of sand between the ocean and the swamp. Tokyo has what 30+ million people. Every square inch or dirt in these cities costs a fortune . So they build up. And people live in the middle of "downtown" because everywhere is "downtown" . So they have a vibrant life downtown because there is no other choice. And with that vibrant life, comes stores and bars and lots of shiny neon. Not the other way around.

Houston does not need any more PPP's downtown. (Isn't that what drives scares all the young ladies away - the smell of urine on the sidewalks? :P ) In the 80's we had El Mercado - now we have Pavilions. Why continue to throw good money after bad? An interesting observation - you want to "let the market" decide on lighting downtown, but not on retail, etc downtown. The market has been deciding on retail downtown for the last 50+ years.

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An interesting observation - you want to "let the market" decide on lighting downtown, but not on retail, etc downtown. The market has been deciding on retail downtown for the last 50+ years.

Which one of us was this directed to?

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TheNiche, what type of lighting do you consider "gimmicky?" By Houston standards, it seems as though any lighting that is more involved/thought-out/decorative than the barest of bare-bones utilitarian falls into the category of "gimmicky."

In my opinion, add a little strategic lighting to a few key buildings, bridges, and landscaping, and all-the-sudden Houston is a much more attractive and inviting city.

I'd like to take a page from places like Singapore, New Orleans, Tokyo, Sapporo (in the winter), Montreal, Miami, Paris, or, even, Hong Kong. When can we get over comparing ourselves to Dallas all the time?! Houston should stop restricting landlords and let the market downtown dictate the lighting. If a building owner wants to sell space to an electronic billboard company, let them. Variety is a good thing (or, the spice of life or whatever). Blocks and blocks of blank walls is a bad thing. Or, even better, create a initiative with Central Houston and key landlords and encourage more and better lighting implementation.

Houston, especially downtown, needs more PPPs. A stronger and better-informed, well-traveled public sector should be able to guide our center city towards becoming a more visually-interesting, unique place - gimmicky and all.

I'm all for outdoor advertising. Our sign ordinances are far too strict. The more dynamically-lit billboards, the better! But that serves a purpose, which is to enhance brand awareness and loyalty while generating revenue for owners of commercial property. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, and some of your examples are of cities that profit from it themselves. To that end, I think that downtown and other parts of town are poorly lit. But I cited Victory in Dallas for several reasons. Firstly, it is a good example of gimmickry, and because it is a city nearby that is similar in terms of climate and urban geography, it probably serves as a more common frame of reference than somewhere like Sapporo. Also...this is subject matter that has already been argued on multiple threads of HAIF for years and years, and Dallas is always a datapoint.

As for PPPs, I'm against them. There's too much opportunity for abuse of power and/or incompetence to cost the City millions upon millions of dollars. Have you researched the various 380 Agreements? As much as the Heights crowd complains about the Ainbinder agreement, there are other agreements that make Ainbinder's look like a model of success by comparison. They basically handed Ed Wulfe a $2 million check on the Gulfgate deal, which received no press.

Again, in general, the public sector just needs to GET OUT OF THE WAY. Regulate and tax if they must, but GET OUT OF THE WAY.

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TheNiche, what type of lighting do you consider "gimmicky?" By Houston standards, it seems as though any lighting that is more involved/thought-out/decorative than the barest of bare-bones utilitarian falls into the category of "gimmicky." In my opinion, add a little strategic lighting to a few key buildings, bridges, and landscaping, and all-the-sudden Houston is a much more attractive and inviting city. I'd like to take a page from places like Singapore, New Orleans, Tokyo, Sapporo (in the winter), Montreal, Miami, Paris, or, even, Hong Kong. When can we get over comparing ourselves to Dallas all the time?! Houston should stop restricting landlords and let the market downtown dictate the lighting. If a building owner wants to sell space to an electronic billboard company, let them. Variety is a good thing (or, the spice of life or whatever). Blocks and blocks of blank walls is a bad thing. Or, even better, create a initiative with Central Houston and key landlords and encourage more and better lighting implementation. Houston, especially downtown, needs more PPPs. A stronger and better-informed, well-traveled public sector should be able to guide our center city towards becoming a more visually-interesting, unique place - gimmicky and all.

Which one of us was this directed to?

Sorry - I screwed up the quoting feature. It was to to the post listed above (I hope). See bold. Then in the next paragraph more PPP's are being advocated.

I'm more in line with Niche (can't believe I said that - shhh!). Government put the rules in place and then back up and get out of the way.

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A strong public and private sector are not mutually exclusive. Conversely, well-planned city building is almost  always reliant on the heavy involvement of both.

Houston has just long done a poor job implementing public private partnerships, I agree. Instead, and worse, in my opinion, our city has acted as though the public sector were't involved and struck all sorts of backroom and closet deals - see all Wulfe deals, especially both Gulfgate and BLVD Place, just about every ex-urban master planned community, etc. 

Instead of turning a blind eye to the fact that major projects almost always rely on public sector involvement, let's give the planning agencies more visibility, and, therefore, scrutinize them better.

Houston's poor track record of PPP in the past should be acknowledged and learned from. This does not mean we should simply turn against them. Instead of shunning the public sector's involvement, let's make it more official, accountable and better scrutinized, and we should see better results. 

Name any successful major real estate project in the world that hasn't relied on the public sector's involvement to some extent. 

If downtown is ever going to successfully build the types of projects we've discussed on this board such as the Buffalo Bayou "river walk," major TOD, or any other major mixed-use projects, the public sector will have to be involved. Mind as well acknowledge its existence. In the past couple of years, Houston has started to kind of get it, I feel. See Discovery Green and Marvy Finger's One Park Place, Market Square Park, and the soon-to-be, I hope, IAC arts complex in Midtown. 

Pleak, I can't believe you don't think Houston is as dense as Hong Kong or Tokyo! ;) But, what does density have to do with lighting? Im missing your point.

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I don't know what you mean by "strong public and private sector". That phrase has no meaning and can be spun rhetorically however I so choose.

The City of Houston doesn't have any say over new exurban or master planned communities, and even when we had the ability to threaten The Woodlands with annexation, they flinched and ended up paying us tribute in order to avoid our wrath...even though it didn't make financial sense for us to annex them in the first place. We got the better end of the deal, so I don't really understand where you're coming from on this.

Suggesting that we give government more scrutiny is self-defeating. The people interesting in scrutinizing are already doing so, but most people aren't interesting in listening to the lurid stories, really at all. And what it comes down to is that the City didn't let Wulfe get away with the Gulfgate 380; the people let it happen. They're like that. Real estate finance is complex and beyond the comprehension of most people, even intelligent people, if and when they become aware of it. And that is why government powers must be reeled in. It's because constituents are incapable of identifying and punishing deliberate cronyism. It isn't enough that you acknowledge the problem and decree an end to it. And even if you ruled the world and everybody trusted you, you'd eventually die and your successor would screw it up again. And that is why hard-and-fast limitations on government powers are often the way to go. And perhaps nowhere is that more true than a big city, chock full of unknown bigshots.

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I was going to respond to largeTexas' screed until I realized that he contradicted himself so much that it became clear that he is assessing a different definition...or perhaps the wrong definition altogether...to the term "public/private partnership.The most obvious PPP downtown would be the convention center hotel. Perhaps the new soccer stadium could be considered a PPP, though the reality is that the City purchased the land and provided infrastructure improvements, while the Dynamo built a stadium on it. At the end of the lease, the stadium and land become the property of the City. This is more accurately a land lease. But, in some respects, this could be considered a PPP, as could the other 3 stadiums used by Houston's sports teams. But, that is really stretching the definition.

Discovery Green is simply a City owned park with millions in private donations used to build it. One Park Place and HP were private ventures using public subsidies. Because the City would receive some revenue in a PPP, simple giveaways of city revenue to encourage building of a project is not a PPP. The Ainbinder 380 agreement could be considered a PPP, as a private entity builds public streets and sidewalks, and is then reimbursed by the City. But, that PPP turned liberal Walmart haters against PPPs. Conservatives already philosophically hate them, leaving few voters in Houston left to support them.

Since this is a thread about HP, I can only surmise that the injection of PPPs into the thread suggest that government building of shopping centers is supported by largeTexas. I have two responses to that. One, we have plenty of shopping centers being built by private interests already. We don't need to help them much. And two, the City gave HP $7 million to build HP, and it ended up in bankruptcy. Do we really need to invest in economically risky ventures?

Also note downtown Dallas' experience with subsidizing downtown ventures. They have given away hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to jumpstart their downtown. While a few of their derelict buildings have been renovated, people stay away in droves. On a recent trip, when I asked if there was anything worth going downtown for, the residents laughed at the suggestion. One even said, "This isn't Houston", which I took as at least a backhanded compliment.

Regardless your definition of a PPP, current budget difficulties at all levels of local government dictate that you won't see any large scale government spending on non-necessities anytime soon.

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Pleak, I can't believe you don't think Houston is as dense as Hong Kong or Tokyo! ;) But, what does density have to do with lighting? Im missing your point.

What I was trying to convey in my rambling post was that every so often, I read threads that all downtown needs to fix its nightlife/residential population/shopping/hipness problems is to allow some neon/led strips to be tacked on the buildings and voila! Success! So the only thing holding back a booming downtown after 5 pm is bright shiny things? :huh:

I agree - release the lighting regulations. But downtown will be just the same. There will not be a sudden influx of people flying in to IAH to stare in awe at the bright lights of the big city. (Maybe the Spring Chickees! :D ) If you want a bustling downtown after hours with residents, shoppers, eaters, partiers, etc. you need the density in all of Houston to make it worthwhile to go downtown. Otherwise it will always be so much cheaper to build your club on Washington Ave. and your condo in Midtown and still be within spitting distance of dt.

The lights will come with density is my point not the other way around. The streets of HK and Tokyo have gazillions of cool signs because there were already millions of people living there and they are trying to get their attention to sell them something. The signs weren't there first and the people moved there just to look at them.

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Pleak, if Tokyo or Hong Kong had the sign ordinance Houston has, it still wouldn't have any lights or billboards on its buildings, no matter how many gazillions of people on the streets.

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The Houston Pavilions is a monumental disappointment, in my opinion. The architecture is weak, the orientation backwards, and the public subsidies mostly wasted. I have to admit, though, I was excited and hopeful before it was built that it would make a sizable and positive impact downtown.

Even though it was the mid- to late-2000's and investing in bad real estate finance was en vogue, I don't believe the City (or County, in the case of HP), should have given any subsidies to a shopping complex with a very suspect, at best, pro forma, without, at the very least, tying them to certain performance, i.e. outward-facing orientation of retail storefronts, especially along Dallas St., the use of standard retail window glass that's much more transparent, and more and better landscaping. 

My point on the PPP/public subsidy issue is twofold. 1. Houston needs more public sector involvement to adequately transition to being a denser 21st Century city. But, 2., our current planning department and other governmental agencies that have been in charge of making decisions on the use and conditions of the public's money in regard to development projects have been pretty impudent.

RedScare, you're probably right that we likely won't be seeing many new public-backed projects in the near future. 

Inevitably, though, Houston will need PPPs and public subsidies, as any major city has and does, for many of the large-scale projects it wants to build so that Houston can "transform into one of the next great global cities of the future." I would prefer a department of qualified planners informing those decisions rather than what we've had, which has given us El Mercado, HP, and all the soon-to-be built communities along the Grand Parkway. 

No government agency can be perfect, and there will always be mistakes, but a better, beefed-up planning office with actual powers and cojones and the legislative ability to help create and plan strategic city-benefiting projects is far better than an anemic department, like the one we have now, that has been given close to no official authority over how the city takes shape. 

It's an interesting and challenging time in the city's development. Houston is evolving from a place with almost endless land and a laissez-faire attitude towards development and policy to a city where density is starting to demand a different way of thinking, planning, and building. I think it's time to start acting like a big city where transparency is required for the public sector's involvement in development. I applaud Mayor Parker's efforts with Metro. I believe a similar standard should be set for the planning dept.

As for lighting, I think it's pretty straightforward. Map an area where certain signage and lighting would be allowed (the zone in downtown and Midtown where parking isn't required makes sense) and let the landlords do the rest. If a building owner wants to put an electronic billboard that reaches above 40' off the ground, let them. The market will dictate to them what works. And, I still think neon is cool, no matter how unpopular it is on this board. The no-neon ordinance evolved out of fear of sex businesses having neon legs flapping all around, etc. If you don't want pink neon legs, just restrict sex businesses from using neon, or something like that..

To your comment, TheNiche, about suburban developing receiving no help from the city government. The City is indeed involved with each and every greenfield suburban development, mainly through new and costly infrastructure, which is a heck of a lot more than is given to most infill developers.

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To your comment, TheNiche, about suburban developing receiving no help from the city government. The City is indeed involved with each and every greenfield suburban development, mainly through new and costly infrastructure, which is a heck of a lot more than is given to most infill developers.

You don't know what you're talking about. 1) The extent of the City limits largely preclude the possibility of new greenfield development except in areas that have been stunted by blight for decades. 2) It is the City's effective policy to annex any commercial property that gets built in their ETJ, but not residential neighborhoods; this is to tax non-voters on the value of the property and to obtain sales taxes from residents to whom the City is not required to provide services. 3) Furthermore, when a developer comes along with a plan for a decent-sized subdivision in a part of the incorporated City that does not have infrastructure, the City's policy is to make the developer form a new in-City municipal utility district. In so doing, the City taxes the new subdivision to pay for everyone else's infrastructure, then makes them also pay for their own infrastructure on their own.

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You don't know what you're talking about. 1) The extent of the City limits largely preclude the possibility of new greenfield development except in areas that have been stunted by blight for decades. 2) It is the City's effective policy to annex any commercial property that gets built in their ETJ, but not residential neighborhoods; this is to tax non-voters on the value of the property and to obtain sales taxes from residents to whom the City is not required to provide services. 3) Furthermore, when a developer comes along with a plan for a decent-sized subdivision in a part of the incorporated City that does not have infrastructure, the City's policy is to make the developer form a new in-City municipal utility district. In so doing, the City taxes the new subdivision to pay for everyone else's infrastructure, then makes them also pay for their own infrastructure on their own.

Man, TheNiche, you must be buds with the good 'ole Billy Burge and all his associates that developed Cinco Ranch; former Mayor, Lanier; the Grand Parkway Association; Texas State Highway Commission; Ed Emmett; and the North Houston Association, just to name a few, to believe all that. I wish that were the way it worked. Sadly, our tax dollars (a little under $10 Billion just for a few of the major projects) have gone into road building and all sorts of other infrastructure improvements that, in turn, fund private suburban and greenfield development. You are correct, the City is not responsible for all of it, but it all comes out of the taxpayers pockets, whether it`s the City, the State, or Federal Stimulus money. Imagine what $10 Billion could have done for Houston inside the Beltway:

1. Entire Buffalo Bayou Master Plan, estimated $5.6 Billion

2. Entire light rail system, estimated $3 Billion

3. City-proposed Astrodome renovation and redevlopment, estimated $1.35 Billion

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The Houston Pavilions is a monumental disappointment, in my opinion. The architecture is weak, the orientation backwards, and the public subsidies mostly wasted. I have to admit, though, I was excited and hopeful before it was built that it would make a sizable and positive impact downtown.

Even though it was the mid- to late-2000's and investing in bad real estate finance was en vogue, I don't believe the City (or County, in the case of HP), should have given any subsidies to a shopping complex with a very suspect, at best, pro forma, without, at the very least, tying them to certain performance, i.e. outward-facing orientation of retail storefronts, especially along Dallas St., the use of standard retail window glass that's much more transparent, and more and better landscaping.

My point on the PPP/public subsidy issue is twofold. 1. Houston needs more public sector involvement to adequately transition to being a denser 21st Century city. But, 2., our current planning department and other governmental agencies that have been in charge of making decisions on the use and conditions of the public's money in regard to development projects have been pretty impudent.

RedScare, you're probably right that we likely won't be seeing many new public-backed projects in the near future.

Inevitably, though, Houston will need PPPs and public subsidies, as any major city has and does, for many of the large-scale projects it wants to build so that Houston can "transform into one of the next great global cities of the future." I would prefer a department of qualified planners informing those decisions rather than what we've had, which has given us El Mercado, HP, and all the soon-to-be built communities along the Grand Parkway.

No government agency can be perfect, and there will always be mistakes, but a better, beefed-up planning office with actual powers and cojones and the legislative ability to help create and plan strategic city-benefiting projects is far better than an anemic department, like the one we have now, that has been given close to no official authority over how the city takes shape.

It's an interesting and challenging time in the city's development. Houston is evolving from a place with almost endless land and a laissez-faire attitude towards development and policy to a city where density is starting to demand a different way of thinking, planning, and building. I think it's time to start acting like a big city where transparency is required for the public sector's involvement in development. I applaud Mayor Parker's efforts with Metro. I believe a similar standard should be set for the planning dept.

As for lighting, I think it's pretty straightforward. Map an area where certain signage and lighting would be allowed (the zone in downtown and Midtown where parking isn't required makes sense) and let the landlords do the rest. If a building owner wants to put an electronic billboard that reaches above 40' off the ground, let them. The market will dictate to them what works. And, I still think neon is cool, no matter how unpopular it is on this board. The no-neon ordinance evolved out of fear of sex businesses having neon legs flapping all around, etc. If you don't want pink neon legs, just restrict sex businesses from using neon, or something like that..

To your comment, TheNiche, about suburban developing receiving no help from the city government. The City is indeed involved with each and every greenfield suburban development, mainly through new and costly infrastructure, which is a heck of a lot more than is given to most infill developers.

A couple of points here. One, the city and county investment in HP was not overly substantial when compared to what other cities have done. I believe the city gave HP $7 million for infrastructure improvements. Compare that to the tens of millions Dallas has given to developers of a single renovated building. I believe their biggest giveaway was $142 million for one renovation. And, while that single building looks good, the impact on downtown revitalization was marginal, at best. Houston (thankfully, in my opinion) simply does not have the history of huge government giveaways that some other cities have.

Second, planning and development departments take their cues from the elected official in charge, in this case, Mayor Parker. Far from being a proponent of more density, Mayor Parker is against further density. Her huge expansion of historic districts was an attempt to forever limit the density of large sections of inner loop neighborhoods. Her new restriction on tall building setbacks is an attempt to limit density and the areas where development of taller buildings can occur. The mapping of areas where the setback ordinance does not apply is straight up zoning, where only small areas of the city may densify. While some people may appreciate the attempt at clumping dense buildings together, the net effect is to make large section of the city off limits to densification. In this regard, Mayor Parker is no patron saint of densification. Far from it.

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I agree that the system is royally screwed up and that there's a lot of taxation without proportionate representation going on. I'd be all in favor of dialing back County property taxes within incorporated municipalities. That would help the City of Houston; City officials would love that. I'd also be in favor of revoking Limited-Purpose Annexations. That would hurt the City of Houston; City officials would hate that. I'd also be in favor of getting the federal government out of the business of local transportation funding, but I don't think that any City or County officials would like that idea. Hopefully you can see that I mostly just want justice for the constituent.

The difference between us, I think, is that whereas you are a pro-City partisan, I recognize that two thirds of our regional population are not constituents of the City of Houston, that they comprise a substantial tax base, and that they deserve to take out what they pay in. I also seem to understand the concept of political boundaries a fair bit better, and limitations of powers.

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Second, planning and development departments take their cues from the elected official in charge, in this case, Mayor Parker. Far from being a proponent of more density, Mayor Parker is against further density. Her huge expansion of historic districts was an attempt to forever limit the density of large sections of inner loop neighborhoods. Her new restriction on tall building setbacks is an attempt to limit density and the areas where development of taller buildings can occur. The mapping of areas where the setback ordinance does not apply is straight up zoning, where only small areas of the city may densify. While some people may appreciate the attempt at clumping dense buildings together, the net effect is to make large section of the city off limits to densification. In this regard, Mayor Parker is no patron saint of densification. Far from it.

And let's not forget the new increased parking requirements for bars and restaurants.

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The Houston Pavilions is a monumental disappointment, in my opinion. The architecture is weak, the orientation backwards, and the public subsidies mostly wasted. I have to admit, though, I was excited and hopeful before it was built that it would make a sizable and positive impact downtown.

Even though it was the mid- to late-2000's and investing in bad real estate finance was en vogue, I don't believe the City (or County, in the case of HP), should have given any subsidies to a shopping complex with a very suspect, at best, pro forma, without, at the very least, tying them to certain performance, i.e. outward-facing orientation of retail storefronts, especially along Dallas St., the use of standard retail window glass that's much more transparent, and more and better landscaping.

Some friends and I were trying to go to HoB on Saturday night (couldn't as someone bought the whole place out though), anyway, we walked from the rail, to HoB, all the way back. Thinking of this thread as I was walking, got me thinking, not only is it completely empty of tenants (to be successful anyway), but there are some fundamentally stupid things they did for design that just make no sense to me.

First one really makes me wonder... there aren't crosswalks on street level, if you don't want to jaywalk (and really who cares anyway) you have to walk down to the intersection. there's no ped crossing on street level? How stupid is that? Then, to top that off, the valet services set up their shop right where someone who would be bold enough to jaywalk would want to walk to cross the street illegally. I'm not saying they need to put in a dedicated stoplight for peds, but a sign, some painted stripes, and lights embedded in the street designated as ped xing, that would go a long way.

Probably the easiest to make a noticeable affect, time the lights so cars will not be stopped under the building. make it illegal for tour buses to idle for more than 5 minutes under the building. it smells like cars everywhere in that place on the ground level, making tour buses either turn off the engines when boarding (assuming everyone isn't already assembled and ready to get on), or having groups board buses in a different location than under the building would go a long way to making it less offensive. they do this all over the place in Europe, and actually, any time a bus is stopped in one location for more than 5 minutes (regardless of how close to people) they have to cut the engines, anyway, that would be a good start.

Nothing can be done at this point, but it really feels cramped on the ground level, maybe it's the planters they have that take up so much room that do this, I don't know, this isn't something that can be changed, so nothing to cry about here.

feeding off of the size of the walkway on the ground floor, it's amazing how little developers care about making patio space as part of their developments, or maybe it's the people who would be using the space that aren't requesting allowances for patio space. even though Houston is a sweatbox in the summer, it's amazing how much people use patios at the places that have them, yet no one seems to do anything really. How awesome would it be to have a space that was 20 feet wider on each side, and that space was used by outdoor patio seating. of course, this would necessitate it not smelling like cars.

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The Houston Pavilions is a monumental disappointment, in my opinion. The architecture is weak, the orientation backwards, and the public subsidies mostly wasted. I have to admit, though, I was excited and hopeful before it was built that it would make a sizable and positive impact downtown.

Even though it was the mid- to late-2000's and investing in bad real estate finance was en vogue, I don't believe the City (or County, in the case of HP), should have given any subsidies to a shopping complex with a very suspect, at best, pro forma, without, at the very least, tying them to certain performance, i.e. outward-facing orientation of retail storefronts, especially along Dallas St., the use of standard retail window glass that's much more transparent, and more and better landscaping.

My point on the PPP/public subsidy issue is twofold. 1. Houston needs more public sector involvement to adequately transition to being a denser 21st Century city. But, 2., our current planning department and other governmental agencies that have been in charge of making decisions on the use and conditions of the public's money in regard to development projects have been pretty impudent.

RedScare, you're probably right that we likely won't be seeing many new public-backed projects in the near future.

Inevitably, though, Houston will need PPPs and public subsidies, as any major city has and does, for many of the large-scale projects it wants to build so that Houston can "transform into one of the next great global cities of the future." I would prefer a department of qualified planners informing those decisions rather than what we've had, which has given us El Mercado, HP, and all the soon-to-be built communities along the Grand Parkway.

No government agency can be perfect, and there will always be mistakes, but a better, beefed-up planning office with actual powers and cojones and the legislative ability to help create and plan strategic city-benefiting projects is far better than an anemic department, like the one we have now, that has been given close to no official authority over how the city takes shape.

It's an interesting and challenging time in the city's development. Houston is evolving from a place with almost endless land and a laissez-faire attitude towards development and policy to a city where density is starting to demand a different way of thinking, planning, and building. I think it's time to start acting like a big city where transparency is required for the public sector's involvement in development. I applaud Mayor Parker's efforts with Metro. I believe a similar standard should be set for the planning dept.

As for lighting, I think it's pretty straightforward. Map an area where certain signage and lighting would be allowed (the zone in downtown and Midtown where parking isn't required makes sense) and let the landlords do the rest. If a building owner wants to put an electronic billboard that reaches above 40' off the ground, let them. The market will dictate to them what works. And, I still think neon is cool, no matter how unpopular it is on this board. The no-neon ordinance evolved out of fear of sex businesses having neon legs flapping all around, etc. If you don't want pink neon legs, just restrict sex businesses from using neon, or something like that..

To your comment, TheNiche, about suburban developing receiving no help from the city government. The City is indeed involved with each and every greenfield suburban development, mainly through new and costly infrastructure, which is a heck of a lot more than is given to most infill developers.

I have been gone for a few days or I would have brought this up sooner, but again you have be able to put what are pretty close to my exact thoughts out in a clear and concise manner. This is a great post.

As for the neon, I just don't like it, but it would not stop me from going someplace. If it could potentially get more people in the door (or better yet out front on a patio), why not.

Edited by Nick_G

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Some friends and I were trying to go to HoB on Saturday night (couldn't as someone bought the whole place out though), anyway, we walked from the rail, to HoB, all the way back. Thinking of this thread as I was walking, got me thinking, not only is it completely empty of tenants (to be successful anyway), but there are some fundamentally stupid things they did for design that just make no sense to me.

First one really makes me wonder... there aren't crosswalks on street level, if you don't want to jaywalk (and really who cares anyway) you have to walk down to the intersection. there's no ped crossing on street level? How stupid is that? Then, to top that off, the valet services set up their shop right where someone who would be bold enough to jaywalk would want to walk to cross the street illegally. I'm not saying they need to put in a dedicated stoplight for peds, but a sign, some painted stripes, and lights embedded in the street designated as ped xing, that would go a long way.

Probably the easiest to make a noticeable affect, time the lights so cars will not be stopped under the building. make it illegal for tour buses to idle for more than 5 minutes under the building. it smells like cars everywhere in that place on the ground level, making tour buses either turn off the engines when boarding (assuming everyone isn't already assembled and ready to get on), or having groups board buses in a different location than under the building would go a long way to making it less offensive. they do this all over the place in Europe, and actually, any time a bus is stopped in one location for more than 5 minutes (regardless of how close to people) they have to cut the engines, anyway, that would be a good start.

Nothing can be done at this point, but it really feels cramped on the ground level, maybe it's the planters they have that take up so much room that do this, I don't know, this isn't something that can be changed, so nothing to cry about here.

feeding off of the size of the walkway on the ground floor, it's amazing how little developers care about making patio space as part of their developments, or maybe it's the people who would be using the space that aren't requesting allowances for patio space. even though Houston is a sweatbox in the summer, it's amazing how much people use patios at the places that have them, yet no one seems to do anything really. How awesome would it be to have a space that was 20 feet wider on each side, and that space was used by outdoor patio seating. of course, this would necessitate it not smelling like cars.

The whole of Harris county is going to smell of cars and industry if we let. Go check out the "Harris County among Worst Polluters" thread started by Subdude in Houston and the environment. Yes that is what the market seems to want but maybe that's because they just aren't thinking about it or maybe because most of the market is only presented with options that are cars first pedestrians second as samagon was noting even in downtown. In my view it is the city's responsibility to make pedestrian travel safe and enjoyable and I really feel we could be doing a better job of it.

Edited by Nick_G

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The whole of Harris county is going to smell of cars and industry if we let. Go check out the "Harris County among Worst Polluters" thread started by Subdude in Houston and the environment. Yes that is what the market seems to want but maybe that's because they just don't know any better, or have never seen anything else, or maybe because most of the market is only presented with options that are cars first pedestrians second as samagon was noting even in downtown. In my view it is the city's responsibility to make pedestrian travel safe and enjoyable and I really feel we could be doing a better job of it.

I suspect that you are very young, or perhaps simply new to Houston. 30 years ago, during Houston's boomtown years, our air was thick with auto exhaust and refinery fumes, our bayous were so filthy that fish could not live in them, and our highways were strewn with litter and construction debris. All of this with less than one half of today's metro population. Despite unsupported claims to the contrary, increasing auto and plant emissions standards, and a much better awareness of pollution and trash have made Houston cleaner, both chemically and aesthetically, over the last 30 years. More is yet to be done, but pithy claims that Houstonians "just don't know any better" bely your own profound ignorance of the improvements made over the years. I know that it is easy to take potshots at Houston and its citizens. It makes certain people feel enlightened. But, when the potshots are erroneous, it only makes those persons look ignorant.

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I suspect that you are very young, or perhaps simply new to Houston. 30 years ago, during Houston's boomtown years, our air was thick with auto exhaust and refinery fumes, our bayous were so filthy that fish could not live in them, and our highways were strewn with litter and construction debris. All of this with less than one half of today's metro population. Despite unsupported claims to the contrary, increasing auto and plant emissions standards, and a much better awareness of pollution and trash have made Houston cleaner, both chemically and aesthetically, over the last 30 years. More is yet to be done, but pithy claims that Houstonians "just don't know any better" bely your own profound ignorance of the improvements made over the years. I know that it is easy to take potshots at Houston and its citizens. It makes certain people feel enlightened. But, when the potshots are erroneous, it only makes those persons look ignorant.

Wasn't meant to be a potshot, I edited it to just aren't thinking about it, I am not yet a politician but maybe could be one day in the distant future from the lessons learned from this site. I am not sure if I would say I am very young (people can disagree) but no I would not remember 30 years ago. The main point of that was agreeing with samagon's observation that it was difficult to walk even in an area of downtown, something I believe is true for most of the city and I would like to emphasize the need for improvements. I almost made a comment about how I can see first hand how uptown (the area that i am most familiar with as I do live there) is making huge improvements but I figured I might upset people using that reference.

Edited by Nick_G

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The improvements to downtown as compared to the Galleria put it to shame. Even pertaining to pedestrian activity, nearly 200,000 people walk in downtown daily. In Uptown, they walk from the parking lot or garage to the store or restaurant. Not even close.

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The improvements to downtown as compared to the Galleria put it to shame. Even pertaining to pedestrian activity, nearly 200,000 people walk in downtown daily. In Uptown, they walk from the parking lot or garage to the store or restaurant. Not even close.

Right but it is not the status quo I am looking to talk about it is the continual improvement of areas and where we spend money in the future.

Again, not looking to compare uptown and downtown, just looking to make a positive point of how I can see improvements being made outside my window.

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I want to bring back the ability to dislike posts.

For the amount of condescending content on this site I am surprised I am getting the amount of flack I am.

Is it better to participate in non-environmentally friendly behavior and not know about or is it better to know about it and not care?

Edited by Nick_G
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For the amount of condescending content on this site I am surprised I am getting the amount of flack I am.

Is it better to participate in non-environmentally friendly behavior and not know about or is it better to know about it and not care?

Again, no comparison. Not only does your lack of historical reference impede your ability to see the unparalled improvement in downtown over its condition from 30 years ago, and even 15 years ago, but apparently your office and residence impede your ability to compare downtown's environmentally friendly character versus Uptown's non-environmental character. 40 percent of downtown workers use public transit to get to work. METRO not only has light rail running through downtown, but numerous bus routes, and nearly every Park&Ride bus comes downtown. Those P&R buses carry 35,000 commuters daily. Plus, virtually all downtown workers walk in downtown. They may use the tunnels, but the important point is that the 60% who drive to work largely leave their vehicles in the garage all day.

Almost none of these activities occur in Uptown. Uptown may be newer and prettier, but environmentally, Uptown is a catastrophe.

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Again, no comparison. Not only does your lack of historical reference impede your ability to see the unparalled improvement in downtown over its condition from 30 years ago, and even 15 years ago, but apparently your office and residence impede your ability to compare downtown's environmentally friendly character versus Uptown's non-environmental character. 40 percent of downtown workers use public transit to get to work. METRO not only has light rail running through downtown, but numerous bus routes, and nearly every Park&Ride bus comes downtown. Those P&R buses carry 35,000 commuters daily. Plus, virtually all downtown workers walk in downtown. They may use the tunnels, but the important point is that the 60% who drive to work largely leave their vehicles in the garage all day.

Almost none of these activities occur in Uptown. Uptown may be newer and prettier, but environmentally, Uptown is a catastrophe.

Redscare, I have made enough posts about downtown, the trains and whom I would like them to serve, funding for them and pedestrian improvements and where I would like tax dollars to be spent at this point that I hope my stances on them are already clear. I really feel as though you comb through my comments looking for ways to attack me if it makes sense with everything I have ever said or not.

Also please read my comment above again as I can tell you are not getting at my point.

"or maybe because most of the market is only presented with options that are cars first pedestrians second as samagon was noting even in downtown. In my view it is the city's responsibility to make pedestrian travel safe and enjoyable and I really feel we could be doing a better job of it."

Edited by Nick_G

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You throw in some comments that attempt to make your posts thoughtful, but the reality is that you are throwing out a wish list without regard to what has already been done, what is currently being done, or what is feasible in the future. I try to ignore your posts, as the "I wish Houston would do this" threads are so tired and unimaginative. There are a dozen or more of those posters here, and because they trend toward the assumption that Houston sucks, and its leaders suck, and other cities are so much better, these posts are trumpeted as some sort of enlightened and thoughtful remarks. But, they are not. They are shallow.

I understand that you find my responses are an attack. Of course you would, since I am assailing the shallowness of your content. But, any suggestion that Uptown is pedestrian friendly as compared to downtown simply reeks of shallowness. Pedestrian friendliness does not address the prettiness of the landscape. It addresses the the ability to walk. Uptown's heavily trafficked suburban grid is no match for downtown's 250 foot square blocks. The proof is in the pudding. Tens of thousands of people (including me) walk downtown's sidewalks daily. Uptown? Probably tens of dozens. And to bemoan Houston's car-centric layout is to be blindly ignorant of the entire post-WWII history of the United States! Please! Is the only thought appreciated on HAIF that thought that is completely shallow and oblivious to the history of the city? Can even one wishful post acknowledge the financing mechanisms needed to build your bucolic world? Can anyone admit that the political climate makes wholesale redevelopment of a downtown impossible, regardless whether it is even the right thing to do? Can any of these posts ever acknowledge all of the projects in the works or underway that attempt to do exactly those things that you wish for? Can anyone admit that few people anywhere wish to live in downtown, even if these things were done?

This is my last response to you, as every other time I have tried to introduce honesty into a subject, I get called out on it. But, understand that my posts were not "attacks". They were corrections of misstatements made by you. I will now leave you to describe your Shangrila without the burden of reality.

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You throw in some comments that attempt to make your posts thoughtful, but the reality is that you are throwing out a wish list without regard to what has already been done, what is currently being done, or what is feasible in the future. I try to ignore your posts, as the "I wish Houston would do this" threads are so tired and unimaginative. There are a dozen or more of those posters here, and because they trend toward the assumption that Houston sucks, and its leaders suck, and other cities are so much better, these posts are trumpeted as some sort of enlightened and thoughtful remarks. But, they are not. They are shallow.

I am sorry you feel my posts are shallow but as far as Houston sucking I would like to point out to you that in my encouraging tourism thread where I said I love the city, because I do, this is my home. I also made that thread and the ones about the overpasses all of which you dismissed as useless because I do not want to sit just making a wish list I would like to see if we can get anything in place that would help. Like I said before maybe we can maybe we can't but it can't hurt to try.

Edited by Nick_G

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This is my last response to you, as every other time I have tried to introduce honesty into a subject, I get called out on it. But, understand that my posts were not "attacks". They were corrections of misstatements made by you. I will now leave you to describe your Shangrila without the burden of reality.

The reason I call you out is typically your wording and tone and especially your need to take things I have said out of content or put words in my mouth, whenever you put in useful pieces of information I have never responded as though I was attacked even if you disagreed with me.

Edited by Nick_G

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Lol, 'I am not yet a politician'. I just knew if I hung with this thread long enough, I'd learn something relevant!

haha yea yea, but you have to be to post on the thread so it's nearly relevant?

Edited by Nick_G

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I hear that Lucky Strike is lots of fun.

I actually like ([d] do they still even do it?) their weekend brunch. Think it was $17 for a brunch entree, bottomless mimosa's or bloodies and a game of bowling. Fun times. Fun times indeed...

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I hear that Lucky Strike is lots of fun.

That awkward moment when you try to save the thread from chaos.

I'd like your post 5 more times if I could.

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That awkward moment when you try to save the thread from chaos.

I'd like your post 5 more times if I could.

I liked it for you, as I was inadvertently part of the problem.

Anyone ever been to the Yao happy hour? If I recall from walking by they gave some pretty good discounts, how is it there?

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Lucy Strike is a bowling alley witha dress code.

how can that work?

their site says they are dedicated to an upscale style. It's Bowlng!

We will continually strive to accommodate those whose style and imagination suit our environment but ask that you please refrain from wearing the following:

  • Athletic wear of any kind including shorts, jerseys, sweats, & hoodies (Call Venue for Game day exceptions)
  • Excessively baggy clothing (Tuck-ins not permitted)
  • Work boots (Seasonal exceptions)
  • Headgear (Exceptions for ball caps and stylish hats)


I just have a hard time associating bowling with upscale.

but i'll be sure to leave my bandana at home and bring my stylish hat instead.

these folks are not dressed for bowling.

book-a-party.jpg

My bowling clothes are stained with lane oil and sweat and tears.

Edited by LarryDierker

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I wish Ross and Rachel Niche and RedScare would just kiss and get it over with already.

Keep this thread on topic, or it will be closed.

A lot of the conversation in this thread is getting personal. I don't care if you kids fight, but do it in the back alley of the PM system, not in the public playground of a thread.

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Pleak, if Tokyo or Hong Kong had the sign ordinance Houston has, it still wouldn't have any lights or billboards on its buildings, no matter how many gazillions of people on the streets.

Actually, it probably would get them a lot quicker than Houston would. If you have that many people on the streets, you have how many shop/club/restaurant owners wanting to sell to the gazillions of people. They would all be clamouring to be allowed to advertise. Business owners do have a bit of influence on local regulations in most parts of the world. That would = precious neon lights. But this is all a silly discussion. While I have already stated I am for lifting the lighting rules downtown, my whole point is it will do nothing. Houston will not suddenly vault into the ranks of the 1st tier world class Alpha-male numero-uno top-of-the-heap cities because downtown glows a little more at night.

The whole of Harris county is going to smell of cars and industry if we let. Go check out the "Harris County among Worst Polluters" thread started by Subdude in Houston and the environment. Yes that is what the market seems to want but maybe that's because they just aren't thinking about it or maybe because most of the market is only presented with options that are cars first pedestrians second as samagon was noting even in downtown. In my view it is the city's responsibility to make pedestrian travel safe and enjoyable and I really feel we could be doing a better job of it.

As was mentioned, Houston and Harris County are miles better than they were a few years back. But what else is missing from this is the realization that these "cars and industry" are the whole reason that Houston as we know it exists. If the petro-chemical complex over to the east was not there, Houston would be a mere shadow of itself. All the cool skyscrapers down Louisiana would not have been built due to the profits from the strawberry fields in Pasadena. Houston is not the prettiest place in the world to live, but it is a good place to work. Always has been.

You want the government to tightly regulate the air so it is safe to breathe - then move to California. Oh, wait - there's no jobs there because all the industry is shutting down due to the regulations. :P (How many refineries have closed in CA in the last 10 years vs. opened/expanded?) But at least the air is clean because it is so regulated by the government there. Oh - wait -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution_in_the_United_States

:D

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As was mentioned, Houston and Harris County are miles better than they were a few years back. But what else is missing from this is the realization that these "cars and industry" are the whole reason that Houston as we know it exists. If the petro-chemical complex over to the east was not there, Houston would be a mere shadow of itself. All the cool skyscrapers down Louisiana would not have been built due to the profits from the strawberry fields in Pasadena. Houston is not the prettiest place in the world to live, but it is a good place to work. Always has been.

You want the government to tightly regulate the air so it is safe to breathe - then move to California. Oh, wait - there's no jobs there because all the industry is shutting down due to the regulations. :P (How many refineries have closed in CA in the last 10 years vs. opened/expanded?) But at least the air is clean because it is so regulated by the government there. Oh - wait -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution_in_the_United_States

:D

Haha yea I'm not looking to California for any type of example. They clearly have not got things right.

I also would not be for regulating the industry, nor would Texas allow for that.

Where I would like to see more options, sorry RedScare for making a "wish list" but looking to discuss how Houston spends future money, are commuter rail lines heading into the suburbs instead of new gigantic loop roads. A commuter rail is not really something a consumer can choose if it's not there. Hense not even given an option. A lot of people drive a lot in the city, that's not a criticism that is just true. If we cut down on emissions from personal transportation I believe we can make a difference. I also believe we should be thinking about it and planning for safe pedestrian travel (which yes we are working on but HP is a pretty new project and samagon pointed that it was not fully thought out).

Edited by Nick_G

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Nick, the City of Houston is not contributing any amount of funding toward the Grand Parkway and, as only a miniscule amount of it is within the city limits, the City of Houston doesn't get much of a say about it. The funding source is TXDoT. The constituents that will benefit from it are paying for it via their gasoline taxes to TXDoT, however, have been allowed substantial constructive input.

It is not constructive to say that Houston needs to do this or Houston shouldn't be doing that, without understanding who is actually doing what.

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Nick, the City of Houston is not contributing any amount of funding toward the Grand Parkway and, as only a miniscule amount of it is within the city limits, the City of Houston doesn't get much of a say about it. The funding source is TXDoT. The constituents that will benefit from it are paying for it via their gasoline taxes to TXDoT, however, have been allowed substantial constructive input.

It is not constructive to say that Houston needs to do this or Houston shouldn't be doing that, without understanding who is actually doing what.

Fair enough, thanks for the input.

I still believe commuter rail lines would be a positive option for the metro area. It's more choice not forcing people to choose, the system we have now is forcing people to choose cars. The TX dot may be funding that but correct me if i am wrong, those are tax dollars that could have been diveretrd elsewhere, you are right in that I am not paying those taxes and I am living in the city limits and as such would not make that decision. Their choice however does still affect us.

Edited by Nick_G

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Nick, the City of Houston is not contributing any amount of funding toward the Grand Parkway and, as only a miniscule amount of it is within the city limits, the City of Houston doesn't get much of a say about it. The funding source is TXDoT. The constituents that will benefit from it are paying for it via their gasoline taxes to TXDoT, however, have been allowed substantial constructive input.

It is not constructive to say that Houston needs to do this or Houston shouldn't be doing that, without understanding who is actually doing what.

Not to get too tangential in this thread (heh, too late for that!) but the amount of money spent on state and national levels for roadway improvements over the course of a year are WAY higher than the gasoline taxes brought in for the same year. I'd like to see the amortization table that shows the monthly payoff of the loan for the road vs the vehicle miles driven per month for the road, since it isn't as simple as 'we take in x number of dollars in gasoline taxes in a year, so therefore can spend x number".

anyway, there is no way that we're sustaining roadway funding 100% with gasoline taxes.

Edited by samagon
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