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livincinco

Downtown Residents for Downtown Retail

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Dead serious how many residents would DT need to shift the attitude change and make DT CBD he new hot spot. I'm not really interested in debating suburbs v DT but I feel DT has so much pos momentum regarding living and social aspects but the lechuguga seems to be heading north and west. There will always be law firms and smaller O&G I guess I am asking does 10k residents help DT office landscape or is it just another albeit new neighborhood to live - again this is far from bashing DT- look at my post history I'm thinking big pic

Cheers

Lorenz

 

Personally, I don't think that the amount of residential population in downtown impacts office development in that area that much.  Right now at least, that seems to be much more heavily driven by cost judging by the developments that are underway.

 

I do think that residential population is huge in driving the kind of retail development that people are looking for downtown and would agree that something around 10k is the right number.  From what I've read from various sources, that seems to be the tipping point in being able to support basic neighborhood retail.

 

 

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Personally, I don't think that the amount of residential population in downtown impacts office development in that area that much.  Right now at least, that seems to be much more heavily driven by cost judging by the developments that are underway.

 

I do think that residential population is huge in driving the kind of retail development that people are looking for downtown and would agree that something around 10k is the right number.  From what I've read from various sources, that seems to be the tipping point in being able to support basic neighborhood retail.

if 10,000 is the tipping point, we are well on our way to passing that figure. before the residential initiative there were ~2,500 units in downtown, and close to 5,000 residents i believe. with this initiative and the projects announced so far we are at like 3,500 new units being built in downtown over the next few years, more than doubling the population. (i would like to see that trend continue and have a base of like 25-50k residents in downtown eventually..)

with that said i really hope the city raises the cap for the number of residential units that get incentives, since they are well past that 2,500 mark now. it would be a shame if they didnt raise it and some of these developments didnt happen because they didnt get in with the first 2,500 units of incentives. 

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if 10,000 is the tipping point, we are well on our way to passing that figure. before the residential initiative there were ~2,500 units in downtown, and close to 5,000 residents i believe. with this initiative and the projects announced so far we are at like 3,500 new units being built in downtown over the next few years, more than doubling the population. (i would like to see that trend continue and have a base of like 25-50k residents in downtown eventually..)

with that said i really hope the city raises the cap for the number of residential units that get incentives, since they are well past that 2,500 mark now. it would be a shame if they didnt raise it and some of these developments didnt happen because they didnt get in with the first 2,500 units of incentives. 

 

I think you're right and believe that the city has been doing the right thing by focusing on residential incentives to get the population up.  The retail demand will come with the population.  I'd be really surprised though if the downtown population gets even close to 25-50k in the near ten years.  Consider that the population of Midtown isn't even 10,000 yet and that's been developing for years.

 

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true.. i didnt really give a time frame, though id like that to be achieved sooner rather than later (20 years or so?). ive heard Dallas has like 40,000 people living downtown (though maybe they were using that dallasified stretching of boundaries to boost numbers, by including uptown and the surrounding residential areas into "downtown"). if true, id imagine a lot of that has to do with them having so much empty office space they had to convert a number of buildings over to residential.. hopefully a problem Houston never has.

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I think you're right and believe that the city has been doing the right thing by focusing on residential incentives to get the population up.  The retail demand will come with the population.  I'd be really surprised though if the downtown population gets even close to 25-50k in the near ten years.  Consider that the population of Midtown isn't even 10,000 yet and that's been developing for years.

 

 

true.. i didnt really give a time frame, though id like that to be achieved sooner rather than later (20 years or so?). ive heard Dallas has like 40,000 people living downtown (though maybe they were using that dallasified stretching of boundaries to boost numbers, by including uptown and the surrounding residential areas into "downtown"). if true, id imagine a lot of that has to do with them having so much empty office space they had to convert a number of buildings over to residential.. hopefully a problem Houston never has.

 

Dallas doesn't have anywhere near that, unless they're casting the net really large for "downtown." Using the center of each downtown as the focal point, Houston has higher pop. than Dallas at the 1 mile, 3 mile, and 5 mile radii, as of 2010 census.

 

Try it yourself:

http://mcdc2.missouri.edu/websas/caps.html

 

For this magic number of 10,000, I would think the office worker population must contribute something to helping retail, if only a little. Let's say an office worker equals 1/100th of an actual resident (very conservative estimate), since the resident is there 24 hours and the office worker is a typical Houston fuddy-duddy who just goes from car to office to car each day and crawls in the tunnels for lunch. Take the downtown worker population of ~150,000 and that gives you approximately 1,500 souls who occasionally emerge from the HVAC environment and chance a street-level retail experience.

 

Another phenomenon that must be considered is that as there are more downtown residents walking around, more office workers are likely to be lured outside. Right now the downtown worker sees mostly just homeless people from the tinted windows of his car as he drives in and leaves; once he starts seeing a few thousand people-that-look-like-him about, he is more likely to risk fresh air and sun exposure and step outside. So from 1/100th of a resident he soon becomes 1/50th, 1/25th, maybe even someday 1/10th of a resident in his ability to support street retail. Something like this phenomenon is happening in Austin and has happened in Atlanta. And 1/10th would mean 15,000 downtown workers walking our streets.

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Dallas doesn't have anywhere near that, unless they're casting the net really large for "downtown." Using the center of each downtown as the focal point, Houston has higher pop. than Dallas at the 1 mile, 3 mile, and 5 mile radii, as of 2010 census.

 

Try it yourself:

http://mcdc2.missouri.edu/websas/caps.html

 

For this magic number of 10,000, I would think the office worker population must contribute something to helping retail, if only a little. Let's say an office worker equals 1/100th of an actual resident (very conservative estimate), since the resident is there 24 hours and the office worker is a typical Houston fuddy-duddy who just goes from car to office to car each day and crawls in the tunnels for lunch. Take the downtown worker population of ~150,000 and that gives you approximately 1,500 souls who occasionally emerge from the HVAC environment and chance a street-level retail experience.

 

Another phenomenon that must be considered is that as there are more downtown residents walking around, more office workers are likely to be lured outside. Right now the downtown worker sees mostly just homeless people from the tinted windows of his car as he drives in and leaves; once he starts seeing a few thousand people-that-look-like-him about, he is more likely to risk fresh air and sun exposure and step outside. So from 1/100th of a resident he soon becomes 1/50th, 1/25th, maybe even someday 1/10th of a resident in his ability to support street retail. Something like this phenomenon is happening in Austin and has happened in Atlanta. And 1/10th would mean 15,000 downtown workers walking our streets.

 

The reason that a residential population is so important to retail is more about evenings and weekends.  Most retail businesses do a high percentage of their volume on weekends and are generally reluctant to open in areas that they don't generate that volume.  Very difficult to be profitable as a retailer off of daytime, weekday business.

 

Look at Wall Street which has an extremely dense office population, but virtually no residential in the immediate area. It has a much lower retail presence than the rest of Manhattan and virtually all businesses located there close on weekends.

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The reason that a residential population is so important to retail is more about evenings and weekends.  Most retail businesses do a high percentage of their volume on weekends and are generally reluctant to open in areas that they don't generate that volume.  Very difficult to be profitable as a retailer off of daytime, weekday business.

 

Look at Wall Street which has an extremely dense office population, but virtually no residential in the immediate area. It has a much lower retail presence than the rest of Manhattan and virtually all businesses located there close on weekends.

 

 

I agree, and I believe that this consideration is factored into the 1/100th estimate.  Surely the 150,000 people who work downtown must contribute something toward the success of retail? Not very much, but something?

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I agree, and I believe that this consideration is factored into the 1/100th estimate. Surely the 150,000 people who work downtown must contribute something toward the success of retail? Not very much, but something?

They do contribute, that's why you have all the fast food restaurants in the tunnels. Beyond that, they don't support much more.

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I agree, and I believe that this consideration is factored into the 1/100th estimate. Surely the 150,000 people who work downtown must contribute something toward the success of retail? Not very much, but something?

Totally agree with you and that's obviously a huge factor in the retail that exists, but I'm not sure what percentage of workers shop near their job vs. the percentage that shop near their houses. I'm sure that data exists, I just haven't seen it.

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They do contribute, that's why you have all the fast food restaurants in the tunnels. Beyond that, they don't support much more.

 

 

Totally agree with you and that's obviously a huge factor in the retail that exists, but I'm not sure what percentage of workers shop near their job vs. the percentage that shop near their houses. I'm sure that data exists, I just haven't seen it.

 

I think 1/100th of office workers is a pretty conservative estimate for contribution to street level retail. And it will increase as they see more residents walking the streets.

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I worked downtown for serveral years. On weekdays that the weather is nice the streets are crowded with people. It's not dead. A LOT of people come out of the tunnels.

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I worked downtown for serveral years. On weekdays that the weather is nice the streets are crowded with people. It's not dead. A LOT of people come out of the tunnels.

 

But they don't shop, it's been proven. Look at what happened to the shopping center at Houston Center, all their brand-name retailers left. And look at what happened to Foley's. And Houston pavillions couldn't get any retail other than restaurants and entertainment. Retail follows rooftops, it's an old adage, it's tried and true.

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But they don't shop, it's been proven. Look at what happened to the shopping center at Houston Center, all their brand-name retailers left. And look at what happened to Foley's. And Houston pavillions couldn't get any retail other than restaurants and entertainment. Retail follows rooftops, it's an old adage, it's tried and true.

 

Macy's had annual sales of either $15 or $17 million, can't remember for sure.

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Macy's had annual sales of either $15 or $17 million, can't remember for sure.

 

That's actually extremely poor especially for a location of that size.  Macy's per store average is right about $30 million.  If it's true that they were only doing $17 million, then its not surprising at all that they closed.

 

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But they don't shop, it's been proven. Look at what happened to the shopping center at Houston Center, all their brand-name retailers left. And look at what happened to Foley's. And Houston pavillions couldn't get any retail other than restaurants and entertainment. Retail follows rooftops, it's an old adage, it's tried and true.

 

No, they don't shop. They mostly are going to eat.

 

I did walk to the midtown Randall's for Groceries about once a week.

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That's actually extremely poor especially for a location of that size. Macy's per store average is right about $30 million. If it's true that they were only doing $17 million, then its not surprising at all that they closed.

Yes, their average is more like 30 million, but that wasn't my point. My point was to contradict fernz' assertion that "they don't shop" and to argue that some retail is possible without rooftops, and that office workers do contribute something. Otherwise, where did the $15 million come from?

Edited by H-Town Man

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Yes, their average is more like 30 million, but that wasn't my point. My point was to contradict fernz' assertion that "they don't shop" and to argue that some retail is possible without rooftops, and that office workers do contribute something. Otherwise, where did the $15 million come from?

 

Ok, they do shop, but not enough for the stores to be profitable. So my overall point is still correct, office workers don't support retail.

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Ok, they do shop, but not enough for the stores to be profitable. So my overall point is still correct, office workers don't support retail.

 

I could maybe agree if you said "office workers don't support much street-level retail by themselves." Foley's/Macy's did limp along for decades.

 

My point in this thread has been that office workers help support retail, and we shouldn't look at residential numbers by themselves when discussing prospects for retail downtown. Some of those office workers will come down and shop.

 

On a sidenote, someone mentioned lower Manhattan as an example of office workers not supporting retail, but it occurred to me that the mall beneath the World Trade Center was (IIRC) the highest grossing shopping mall in America before its destruction. Of course, it wasn't street level. -_-

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Yes, their average is more like 30 million, but that wasn't my point. My point was to contradict fernz' assertion that "they don't shop" and to argue that some retail is possible without rooftops, and that office workers do contribute something. Otherwise, where did the $15 million come from?

 

Sure - there's always a number of factors in something like this.  Downtown workers, convention traffic, tourist and entertainment traffic are all factors so it's clearly a simplification to just say 10,000 residents is the magic number.  The point is more around having a base of continuous traffic during non-business hours that a retailer can expect.  Workers provide minimal uplift during evenings and weekends.  Convention and entertainment is event driven and can be heavily cyclical.  Residential is more even and even more importantly provides that off hour volume that retailers (and restaurants) need.

 

 

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On a sidenote, someone mentioned lower Manhattan as an example of office workers not supporting retail, but it occurred to me that the mall beneath the World Trade Center was (IIRC) the highest grossing shopping mall in America before its destruction. Of course, it wasn't street level. -_-

 

I've never understood the phenomenon of placing giant gobs of the usual suspects of retailers that are already at every mall in North America in the path of heavy concentrations of tourists, but it must work.  You can't swing a stripper/hooker pamphleteer in Las Vegas without hitting a Gap brand or Sunglass Hut store, and those guys are tiny. 

Edited by Nate99
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On a sidenote, someone mentioned lower Manhattan as an example of office workers not supporting retail, but it occurred to me that the mall beneath the World Trade Center was (IIRC) the highest grossing shopping mall in America before its destruction. Of course, it wasn't street level. -_-

 

Fair point, but it was also a major transit hub so it got a ridiculously high level of foot traffic.  It's also relevant that it was directly under a major tourist attraction.

Edited by livincinco
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can you guys please start a new thread for this completely off topic discussion you are having?

 

 

No bother, just peeled off the posts into a new topic.

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And look at what happened to Foley's.

 

 

66 years of successful operation?

 

... in spite of many years of horrible mismanagement by May Co.... and even then they only closed because they lost their lease.  Macy's has said they are interested in opening a smaller store in downtown Houston.

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Macy's has said they are interested in opening a smaller store in downtown Houston.

thats interesting.. where did you hear that?

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... in spite of many years of horrible mismanagement by May Co.... and even then they only closed because they lost their lease.  Macy's has said they are interested in opening a smaller store in downtown Houston.

 

If that is the case it is surprising.  I wouldn't necessarily blame the closure on mismanagement thought.  The old full-line mid-market department store is a slowly dying breed.  

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^Sort of off topic but... most of the department stores over extended themselves.  Tyler, Texas is a pretty good sized town, same with Victoria, Texas but neither really had a need for more than 1 major department store.  Besides that the department store of Norman Rockwells era has morphed into the Targets, Wal-Marts, Sams, Costcos of today.  Why not just sell everything under one roof?

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As a resident and employee in downtown I will just say that I'm not that interested in retail itself. Public accommodations are more worthwhile; like wider sidewalks, art, trees, etc. I buy most of what I want online anyways and can't be bothered to waste time hunting for physical goods (unless it's crate diggin for rare grooves). Service oriented retail might work like strip clubs or dry cleaners but physical retail is like driving your car, it's fun for about 5 minutes and then I just want the computer to take over so I can read my feeds. 

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Phonecia seems do be doing well even off hours.

There is some residential near Wall Street I have a cousin who lives on Wall Street and we went to Adrian's near it to eat pizza.

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I would think that a start would be seeing if a partial opening of the tunnels during weekends is at all feasible economically.

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It's complicated. We need the residential base but also downtown needs to become a destination in itself. Hopefully the increased focused on conventions and luring more large scale events (more superbowls, final fours, all star games, college bowl games, etc.) will help DT gain good traction.

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I honestly think the convention center, Toyota Center, BBVA Compass, Minute Maid, and the Theater District are enough for downtown to be a destination. I'm not really sure what else you could add to that mix...even in terms of music venues it's got HOB, Bayou Music Center...maybe smaller venues? There's NOTSUOH, but that's really small, and somewhat limited in terms of who it attracts. I'd love to see the Majestic become a full-time venue..

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I honestly think the convention center, Toyota Center, BBVA Compass, Minute Maid, and the Theater District are enough for downtown to be a destination. I'm not really sure what else you could add to that mix...even in terms of music venues it's got HOB, Bayou Music Center...maybe smaller venues? There's NOTSUOH, but that's really small, and somewhat limited in terms of who it attracts. I'd love to see the Majestic become a full-time venue..

 

There's a lot to do downtown as you listed the attractions, yet it has taken the leap forward yet. As I said it's complicated. Houston's DT is large and spread out which doesn't help make it a true destination, although there have been steps to solve that issue. Along with the obvious residential base and more hotel rooms that's in the pipeline, DT is poised to take a significant step forward. 

 

I think big events like the ones I mentioned above gives Houston a chance to show off DT and midtown to the nation, state, and even to itself. 

Edited by kdog08

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It's complicated. We need the residential base but also downtown needs to become a destination in itself. Hopefully the increased focused on conventions and luring more large scale events (more superbowls, final fours, all star games, college bowl games, etc.) will help DT gain good traction.

 

Special events such as you mentioned are a nice (albeit expensive) sideline, but I don't think that a healthy downtown can be based around them.  

 

 

 

As a resident and employee in downtown I will just say that I'm not that interested in retail itself. Public accommodations are more worthwhile; like wider sidewalks, art, trees, etc. I buy most of what I want online anyways and can't be bothered to waste time hunting for physical goods (unless it's crate diggin for rare grooves). Service oriented retail might work like strip clubs or dry cleaners but physical retail is like driving your car, it's fun for about 5 minutes and then I just want the computer to take over so I can read my feeds. 

 

Lol at the conjunction of strip clubs and dry cleaners, but the point is well taken. I said it in another downtown retail topic, but there needs to be some consideration of what retail is appropriate and can survive.  Traditional downtown department stores like Macy's are dying, big box retailers like Walmart and Target haven't pushed downtown locations, there's a limited audience for "upscale" retailers as at the Galleria, and like yourself, a lot of people find it easier to just shop online. 

 

Mundane retail like dry cleaners and hardware stores make a lot of sense to serve residents.

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On a sidenote, someone mentioned lower Manhattan as an example of office workers not supporting retail, but it occurred to me that the mall beneath the World Trade Center was (IIRC) the highest grossing shopping mall in America before its destruction. Of course, it wasn't street level. -_-

Like I said, we need to see if the tunnels could be opened on weekends. I'm not saying by any means that the tunnels need to be remerchandised like a "regular" mall, but it could be great as a test to see if additional retail could be supported.

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Like I said, we need to see if the tunnels could be opened on weekends. I'm not saying by any means that the tunnels need to be remerchandised like a "regular" mall, but it could be great as a test to see if additional retail could be supported.

 

Tunnels are absolutely dead after 2 pm. You have some people walk through them from 5-530 but after about 6 99% of the workers are gone from downtown.

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Tunnels are absolutely dead after 2 pm. You have some people walk through them from 5-530 but after about 6 99% of the workers are gone from downtown.

Well there's your answer about downtown retail. And sadly, it all makes sense: the mall at Houston Center has a Jos A Banks but little else in the way of "true" retail, and it should be known that Foley's was losing steam even before the Macy's takeover. Or even why Houston Pavilions was underwhelming in the retail department.

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Well there's your answer about downtown retail. And sadly, it all makes sense: the mall at Houston Center has a Jos A Banks but little else in the way of "true" retail, and it should be known that Foley's was losing steam even before the Macy's takeover. Or even why Houston Pavilions was underwhelming in the retail department.

 

Phonecia does well even on evenings on weekends, I guess the downtown residents and people around for Rockets games and concerts at House of Blues keep things moving there.

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If I'm playing SimCity, I would skyconnect a re-re-renovated Greenstreet to a renovated Park Shoppes (Houston Center) via a Highline absolute knock-off, type steel stucture going over Fannin north from Dallas and turn east down Lamar to arrive at the Southwest corner of San Jac & Lamar (there's a tunnel entrance there too). Killer app: water features (and could also be a sidwalk below landscaping feature). 

 

I don't think the Dallas St. renovation that was envisioned earlier by the mgmt district really made much suggestions for addressing the parking garage street faces or the loading docks. It's best to try and minimize the racket and olfactory offenses, and those beeping, approaching car buzzers are the worst. 

Edited by infinite_jim
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Traditional downtown department stores like Macy's are dying, big box retailers like Walmart and Target haven't pushed downtown locations, there's a limited audience for "upscale" retailers as at the Galleria, and like yourself, a lot of people find it easier to just shop online. 

 

Mundane retail like dry cleaners and hardware stores make a lot of sense to serve residents.

 

Actually a lot of traditional "big box" retailers have been looking at different formats that are better suited to urban environments for the last couple of years, but the results have been pretty mixed.  Very difficult to get the same level of profitability from those locations that they do from their suburban locations. That being said, I agree with you that mundane stores are the most likely result.  I'd expect to see a lot of the same kind of stores that are found in suburban strip malls - dry cleaner, nail place, coffee shop, etc.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/business/retailers-expand-into-cities-by-opening-smaller-stores.html?_r=0

http://plannersweb.com/2014/02/walmart-stores-go-small-urban/

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There is a reason drycleaners, nail/hair salons, coffee shops, sandwich shops, donut places make it in suburban strip centers... they have relatively cheap leases.  The trouble is getting these needed, though low operating cost (and low value) businesses to take a risk on more expensive leases in the core.  They will also need enough foot traffic to survive.  And while the demand is I'm sure high for a dry cleaner (for example), most Downtown workers who need dry cleaning probably just wait till they get home to use the local cleaners.

 

There will be a time when enough residents live Downtown that they will demand that kind of retail and that they will get that kind of retail, but I do not think we've reached that level yet.  With the build out of the proposed and now underconstruction residential properties in Downtown we will reach that peak where there are enough people living within a walking distance that these sort of stores will start to pop-up.  That will help fuel more retail and further exploration into the Downtown market by private retail.

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There is a reason drycleaners, nail/hair salons, coffee shops, sandwich shops, donut places make it in suburban strip centers... they have relatively cheap leases.  The trouble is getting these needed, though low operating cost (and low value) businesses to take a risk on more expensive leases in the core.  They will also need enough foot traffic to survive.  And while the demand is I'm sure high for a dry cleaner (for example), most Downtown workers who need dry cleaning probably just wait till they get home to use the local cleaners.

 

There will be a time when enough residents live Downtown that they will demand that kind of retail and that they will get that kind of retail, but I do not think we've reached that level yet.  With the build out of the proposed and now underconstruction residential properties in Downtown we will reach that peak where there are enough people living within a walking distance that these sort of stores will start to pop-up.  That will help fuel more retail and further exploration into the Downtown market by private retail.

 

In complete agreement, it would make no sense for the city to provide incentives for retail development until the residential base is in place.  To your point, once that residential base is sufficient, low level retail will develop and that's a really good time to look at how to develop retail.

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From the look of things - we should reach that level in perhaps the next 2 years or so - assuming 3/4 of the projects come to fruition and they fill rather quickly.

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If I'm playing SimCity, I would skyconnect a re-re-renovated Greenstreet to a renovated Park Shoppes (Houston Center) via a Highline absolute knock-off, type steel stucture going over Fannin north from Dallas and turn east down Lamar to arrive at the Southwest corner of San Jac & Lamar (there's a tunnel entrance there too). Killer app: water features (and could also be a sidwalk below landscaping feature). 

that would be awesome.. or if it was from roof to roof, from the top of Greenstreet (which would all be converted to a park, in keeping with the grassy area on the roof they had in front of the hotel in the renderings), over to another potion of the newly converted park on the roof of the HC downtown club, and finally over to the roof of the shops at HC, which could be the final piece of the park. like you were saying, throw some water features in there (there could even be a stream that flowed down from the shops at HC to Greenstreet since the roof of the three buildings step down a little bit each time), maybe portions of the bridges with glass floors to look down at traffic on the street below.. just little stuff to keep it fun.

TBH, i dont see two competitors interlinking their developments, but maybe im wrong. or maybe Midway ends up buying the HC and connects them? heh..

a much more realistic connector solution would be a skybridge from GreenStreet to the HC downtown club, which then has a skybridge over to the shops at HC.

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Downtown Living Initiative Program

Cap pushed up to 5,000 units, previously 2,500

Now includes pretty much all of downtown

Same requirements, incentives and termination date (June 2016)

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/54482015/2014-02-26-14%20Annual%20Update%20for%20CHI%20membership.pptx

 

Nice. Hopefully this spurs more and more development in the next few years.

 

I'm not sure but is the Chapter 380 initiative similar to this but for East Downtown (as in EADO)? If so, why don't they pub it more?

 

I'm sure there are developers waiting to start projects in EADO but would like the same benefits downtown gets.

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Downtown Living Initiative Program

Cap pushed up to 5,000 units, previously 2,500

Now includes pretty much all of downtown

Same requirements, incentives and termination date (June 2016)

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/54482015/2014-02-26-14%20Annual%20Update%20for%20CHI%20membership.pptx

YESSSS!!! i was hoping for 5,000. that will TRIPLE the number units that were originally in downtown. i would think the population will be closer to 15,000 than 10,000 if they max out the cap space.

what page was that on, urb?

Edited by cloud713

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At an average of 250 units per building, at 5000 units, that's 20 buildings.

How many are planned right now? I need to make a spreadsheet.

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