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The James, Ivy, Park Place River Oaks, Westheimer & Mid Lane Mixed-Use

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The streetcar idea is one that makes sense.  

 

 

High-end target shoppers.

Too large of scale.  Street is too wide and strip is too long...  (North Michigan Avenue is easily as wide as Westheimer and longer than the strip along Westheimer being discussed.) 

 

 

 

The difference is Westheimer doesn't really have the ability to go from 6 lanes to 4 lanes.  Could the city add in an esplanade even?

 

 

But I assume traffic on the Magnificent Mile moves much slower.  An esplanade would help but would also mean cutting off left-turn access into the different shopping centers, which the merchants would scream about.  

 

Also, the scale issues aren't just w.r.t. the width of Westheimer.  The stores themselves are mostly set back from the road by parking spaces.  Look at busy, successful shopping streets, and the shops will open up directly to the sidewalk.  It doesn't "read" as a pedestrian area.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I would love to see Houston get a fast, efficient subway network that connects downtown with the med center, Greenway Plaza and Uptown (and eventually out to Reliant Park and Hobby Airport on the south side, Greenspoint, IAH and The Woodlands on the north side and out west from the U of H main campus through Montrose/River Oaks, Highland Village, ROD, the Galleria, Westchase, the Energy Corridor and CityCentre). The Westheimer corridor is ripe for this kind of development. Limited stops at key destinations with well-planned street level interaction and moving walkways would help tremendously. If only we could build it for the $63 million per mile that Barcelona paid for their Sants-La Sagrera tunnel, or the $69 million per mile that Seoul paid for their "Subway Line 9"...or even the $165 million per mile Vancouver paid for its "partially underground" Evergreen Line.

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The streetcar idea is one that makes sense.

thanks. i hadnt really thought of the distances or how they would work (i.e. be one car going back and forth on a track like they do in Dallas, or multiple cars going in a loop system) but when i looked at a map i realized 4 of these areas are within a mile of each other (Westcreek, ROD, Mid Lane, and Highland Village), and the Galleria is just outside that mile radius. West Ave and 2727 Kirby (not really mixed use [unless they have GFR, im a little naive to the tower other than i like the design, heh]) is a lot further down Westheimer than i realized, probably almost a mile and a half down from H.V. so at first i wasnt sure if it would be worth connecting that into the streetcar system, all the way out there. but then i realized there are quite a few apartment complexes and a large portion of River Oaks in between H.V. and West Ave, and that the streetcar could serve more residents along the system so its not only used by non-locals who drive to one place and want to visit another.

would the tracks be a loop system, in the street ROW, or would/could they squeeze one set of tracks for a back and forth streetcar between at least Post Oak and say Central Market thats not in the streets ROW?

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I would love to see Houston get a fast, efficient subway network that connects downtown with the med center, Greenway Plaza and Uptown (and eventually out to Reliant Park and Hobby Airport on the south side, Greenspoint, IAH and The Woodlands on the north side and out west from the U of H main campus through Montrose/River Oaks, Highland Village, ROD, the Galleria, Westchase, the Energy Corridor and CityCentre). The Westheimer corridor is ripe for this kind of development. Limited stops at key destinations with well-planned street level interaction and moving walkways would help tremendously. If only we could build it for the $63 million per mile that Barcelona paid for their Sants-La Sagrera tunnel, or the $69 million per mile that Seoul paid for their "Subway Line 9"...or even the $165 million per mile Vancouver paid for its "partially underground" Evergreen Line.

i like your vision, but unfortunately it doesnt seem anywhere close to feasible. a trenched commuter rail line would be the closest i see Houston getting to a "subway", especially one at the lengths your talking. we missed out when we decided to make pedestrian tunnels downtown instead of putting subways through them. and then again on the failed heavy rail plan. and then again when many mistakenly voted against rail money recently.. ugh... this city could of already been one of the front runners in the world, instead were a "beta world city"...

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^An esplanade would limit left turns, but it would also help traffic move more swiftly through the area and reduce needless wrecks of shoppers trying to "grab that last parking spot", and it would perhaps also force more pedestrian movement along that stretch.

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The streetcar idea is one that makes sense.  

 

 

 

 

But I assume traffic on the Magnificent Mile moves much slower.  An esplanade would help but would also mean cutting off left-turn access into the different shopping centers, which the merchants would scream about.  

 

Also, the scale issues aren't just w.r.t. the width of Westheimer.  The stores themselves are mostly set back from the road by parking spaces.  Look at busy, successful shopping streets, and the shops will open up directly to the sidewalk.  It doesn't "read" as a pedestrian area.  

 

It only takes a little imagination.  No one is suggesting Highland Village is currently pedestrian friendly, only that with some vision and imagination, it and the burgeoning retail/mixed areas to its west could become pedestrian friendly.... and fairly easily, I might add.

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Houston needs to make better use of street trolleys. We (the city) are almost the exact same size of the greater London area with just about a fifth of the population. Traditional rail would be tricky to implement here.

I think we should look to the area as a collection of smaller cities (as is actually the case in London as the actual city of London is quite tiny) and grant some of these cities a stop and connect that stop with trolleys. The city is already divided into 88 superneighborhoods. We can grant about 40 of them a rail stop.

For example we can have a university line running from the 3rd ward super neighborhood/ city to the uptown SN/ city. I guess the Highland Village would be in the Greenway Super Neighborhood. Once you get off at the greenway stop you can catch the trolley which should circulate around the points of interest.

Of course certain SN/ cities will have more than one stop.

Edited by HoustonIsHome
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Quickline down Westheimer from Hwy6 to University of Houston where it becomes Elgin. Redo streetscapes and boom we got a bustling 20 plus mile corridor. It's frankly embarrassing the state of Westheimer in Montrose. 

Edited by kdog08
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yep, i drove by yesterday to check it out. theyve got the whole site in the back fenced off and lots of machinery out there. i guess they are starting with the apartments Urbannizer linked first. do the owners of Mid Lane own the businesses/properties along Westheimer yet? if so how long until the leases are up for those tenants and they clear out?

nevermind, just noticed the owners pieced together all of the properties in the development a year ago.. so now that thats answered. how long until the tenants have to get out?

Edited by cloud713

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agreed. which is why i think that stretch of Westheimer could use a streetcar. from Highland Village (or Central Market) to the Galleria.. the developments arent connected very well and they are just far enough apart that people arent going to want to walk from one to another carrying a bunch of shopping bags.

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agreed. which is why i think that stretch of Westheimer could use a streetcar. from Highland Village (or Central Market) to the Galleria.. the developments arent connected very well and they are just far enough apart that people arent going to want to walk from one to another carrying a bunch of shopping bags.

 

This is the unfortunate thing.

 

Also shows how much development style has an effect on people.  Central Market to Sage is how far?  Maybe 1 mile?  This is not very far to walk...at all.

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This is the unfortunate thing.

Also shows how much development style has an effect on people. Central Market to Sage is how far? Maybe 1 mile? This is not very far to walk...at all.

Maybe the city can improve the connectivity with better sidewalks and landscaping between the developments? I still think the people many of these shops cater to aren't going to want to walk a mile and a half down the street while carrying shopping bags filled with hundreds of dollars worth of goods. Especially in the Texas heat or when it's raining/any time the weather sucks. Though I completely agree with you that central market to sage (a mile and a half) isn't that far to walk on a nice day. I just think a street car/trolley service along the route would improve connectivity between the developments and be more appealing than walking or hoping in your car and driving down the street. Edited by cloud713

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Driving down Westheimer in this area on Friday and Saturday, they are going to have to expand the road in this part or something. Westheimer simply can't handle all this development in this section. Traffic comes to a snails pace... Just watch Google maps traffic throughout the day and you'll see that this area will be mostly red to dark red.

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Driving down Westheimer in this area on Friday and Saturday, they are going to have to expand the road in this part or something. Westheimer simply can't handle all this development in this section. Traffic comes to a snails pace... Just watch Google maps traffic throughout the day and you'll see that this area will be mostly red to dark red.

agreed, but i see them being able to get one more lane out of that stretch max without completely eliminating the sidewalks or taking out part of peoples back yards. which is why i think a streetcar would make sense. it serves the local traffic, and could go in the new ROW and be seperated from vehicular traffic.

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agreed, but i see them being able to get one more lane out of that stretch max without completely eliminating the sidewalks or taking out part of peoples back yards. which is why i think a streetcar would make sense. it serves the local traffic, and could go in the new ROW and be seperated from vehicular traffic.

 

Driving along this specific section of Westheimer today, there is ZERO room for the existing sidewalk on the east-bound lanes. They are pinched between brick walls and the street as is. Unless they can push the west-bound lanes over, I don't see much room for anything. Past the railway, yes, but not on the Galleria side.

 

By the way.... No railway bridge with all of this added density? This area is going to be a no-go for a loooong time.

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Westheimer inside the loop has so much traffic and so little room the only way you are going to put transit in a non-obstructing manner would be a subway.  Would be a terrific idea, but awfully expensive.  

 

I hope that when the time comes to completely reconstruct Westheimer in that area (probably within ten years) that the city and METRO at least discuss the idea of running subway tunnels underneath at the same time. 

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A subway would be amazing, but yes incredibly expensive and it seems like they would opt for a subway line along Post Oak or Main before westheimer.. I hope they at least consider it though.

Another idea I had was a streetcar line starting at San Felipe/west creek, going south on west creek, through the new westcreek development before turning east on Bettis Dr, running along the back side of River Oaks District and Mid Lane before turning south down the rail road tracks on the east side of Mid Lane, terminating at Highland Village. It wouldn't do anything about connectivity to the galleria, but it would interlink those 4 developments at least.

I suppose you could even have it turn west (on the north side of the line at west creek) down San Felipe over to BLVD place, connecting into the uptown BRT/future LRT line, which could then get you to the galleria..

And I completely agree the railroad crossing at Westheimer needs an underpass...

Edit.. The more I think about the streetcar idea from blvd place to highland village the more I like it.. What do you guys think?

Edited by cloud713

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I like the streetcar idea on the back streets, but not necessarily on a road like San Felipe around 610...at least any time near rush hour. Even if it takes cars off the road, I don't like the idea of larger vehicles on highly-congested streets. It would probably be better than not having them, but I would prefer mass transit to not be on street-level or have any interaction at all with the existing cluster___ that is our road and stop light system. I don't think as many people would use a streetcar as opposed to a train in general (wouldn't have to sit in traffic), but I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of that being a big hit over there if it happened.

 

Not all subways are expensive to build. Several of them have been built around the world recently in Dubai, Vancouver, Seoul, Mexico City, Bangalore, Helsinki and Barcelona for much less than $200 million per mile...and a few of them near or below $100 million per mile. The Barcelona Sants-La Sagrera tunnel, completed in 2011, costed about $63 million per mile.

 

At $100 million per mile, we could put subways all over Houston...from Hobby Airport to the Astrodome/med center area, and then up Main St. through Hermann Park/Rice University, Midtown, Downtown, and up to Greenspoint, IAH and The Woodlands with main stations in keys places Downtown, Midtown and the med center where other trains can connect people to destinations like Greenway Plaza, the Galleria area, the Westheimer Corridor, Westchase, the Enclave Pkwy/Energy Corridor area, the City Centre/Memorial City area, then back through the north side of the Galleria area through Memorial Park, Allen Pkwy and back into downtown again and then perhaps back down south to U of H and back to Hobby Airport...for about the same amount of money that went into 3 or 4 Katy Freeway expansions (and that doesn't include the cost of time and money wasted sitting in traffic during the construction process or the fact that we have to pay for our own automobiles, gas, tolls, insurance, repairs, maintenance, etc.). It would then be well worth it to add a few more connectors, moving walkways and/or streetcars up and down Post Oak, the West Belt between Westchase and City Centre, and somewhere inside the loop around Kirby, Shepherd and/or Montrose.

 

That would provide viable alternatives and change the quality of life (and hopefully development patterns) in Houston "forever."

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I like the streetcar idea on the back streets, but not necessarily on a road like San Felipe around 610...at least any time near rush hour. Even if it takes cars off the road, I don't like the idea of larger vehicles on highly-congested streets. It would probably be better than not having them, but I would prefer mass transit to not be on street-level or have any interaction at all with the existing cluster___ that is our road and stop light system. I don't think as many people would use a streetcar as opposed to a train in general (wouldn't have to sit in traffic), but I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of that being a big hit over there if it happened.

(...)

At $100 million per mile, we could put subways all over Houston...from Hobby Airport to the Astrodome/med center area, and then up Main St. through Hermann Park/Rice University, Midtown, Downtown, and up to Greenspoint, IAH and The Woodlands with main stations in keys places Downtown, Midtown and the med center where other trains can connect people to destinations like Greenway Plaza, the Galleria area, the Westheimer Corridor, Westchase, the Enclave Pkwy/Energy Corridor area, the City Centre/Memorial City area, then back through the north side of the Galleria area through Memorial Park, Allen Pkwy and back into downtown again and then perhaps back down south to U of H and back to Hobby Airport...for about the same amount of money that went into 3 or 4 Katy Freeway expansions (and that doesn't include the cost of time and money wasted sitting in traffic during the construction process or the fact that we have to pay for our own automobiles, gas, tolls, insurance, repairs, maintenance, etc.). It would then be well worth it to add a few more connectors, moving walkways and/or streetcars up and down Post Oak, the West Belt between Westchase and City Centre, and somewhere inside the loop around Kirby, Shepherd and/or Montrose.

That would provide viable alternatives and change the quality of life (and hopefully development patterns) in Houston "forever."

While I agree that mass transit on traffic lanes is no bueno, there is currently a median on San Felipe between Westcreek and Post Oak (and beyond) that the streetcar could run down. Or preferably they reconfigure the street so that the traffic lanes are moved over into the median and they can run the streetcar down its own ROW on the south side of San Felipe, without interfering with traffic and without dumping people off into the middle of a busy street like a streetcar in the median would be forced to do.

And if needed, San Felipe seems like it has more room for additional ROW expansion then Westheimer.

Holy ****, if only we had half of what you just described... I've had similar fantasies and even gone so far as to draw out streetcar systems all over town. I think another area that could use being served by a light rail/streetcar/subway route you could add to your list would be I-10 between grand parkway and beltway, to serve the energy corridor.

Unfortunately 100 million a mile is about how much light rail cost.. And you've seen how much rail we've been able to built at that cost/with our politics. They might as well of built Main st as a subway line, at least through downtown, at that cost.. Which makes me wonder why the hell they didn't... But I get that you meant instead of rebuilding Katy freeway 3-4 times, using the 10 billion or so dollars saved on subways. Too bad we are so caught up in highways. Maybe that will change after this go round of highway expansions when they realize they can't keep expanding ROW.

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There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, no doubt. I would love to see both trains and streetcars in Uptown. I think it would be best to reconfigure San Felipe for the scenario you laid out. It pisses me off to no end that they took the center lane away from San Felipe just west of South Post Oak Lane and replaced what used to be room for automobiles to turn left onto South Post Oak Lane (northbound) from San Felipe (eastbound) with a few trees and landscaping. Although it looks very nice, I couldn't help but think "they know damn well what they're doing." Now, that turn lane only allows room for 8 or 10 cars (if that) and San Felipe is now routinely backed up to Randalls and beyond because of it.

 

You're right about the lack of rail in this town, and that has everything to do with local money and politics. It seems like almost every decision that is made as far as transportation is concerned in this town is all about "looking nice and productive," but actually being inefficient and we end up consuming more gas and/or using toll roads. And don't get me started on our construction practices...

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I would love to have subways, but I think it will never happen.  I think the easier, quicker, and cheaper fix is to make Richmond, San Felipe, and Westheimer one way.  

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Wouldn't this look nice where Grand Lux is across from the Galleria.

Agreed a large mixed use development on that corner of westheimer and post oak would be awesome. As well as the corner across post oak with the gallery furniture shopping center. Someday in the future when the market warrants it...

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Agreed a large mixed use development on that corner of westheimer and post oak would be awesome. As well as the corner across post oak with the gallery furniture shopping center. Someday in the future when the market warrants it...

I bet in our lifetime Post Oak Blvd. will become an Urban Canyon of high-rises and mixed-use development, both sides, from 610 to 59.

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M

E

H

 

seriously??? i think that looks terrific, particualrly for the area. love the way they are coming right up to midlane with curbside parking.

 

just goes to show you can't please everyone.

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VERY NICE! I like it when companies announce something and begin construction right away. I hate it when they announce something and then delay it, then cancel it.

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seriously??? i think that looks terrific, particualrly for the area. love the way they are coming right up to midlane with curbside parking.

just goes to show you can't please everyone.

I think it's decent. Mabey it's just the fact that it's cloudy and depressing in the background or that it's completely empty. (I'm talking about the pedestrians) Edited by Sky-guy

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I think it's decent. Mabey it's just the fact that it's cloudy and depressing in the background or that it's completely empty. (I'm talking about the pedestrians)

"The architect got creative, and the sky in the rendering depicts a Houston summer thunderstorm scene."

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I just want to point out an observation from the rendering. Look at the building on the right. It gets 9 stories easily and keeps going until the picture cuts it off where as the multifamily next to it is 8 definitely. In between is a car entrance and a building connector. They will probably build in phases and release renderings for each part subsequently after one another.

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yes previous renderings show two highrises approaching 20 stories on the westheimer side - one presumably office the other condo, hotel or a combination of the two.

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