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Franklin And Milam: 10-Story Garage


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See this is what I hate about so of thes3 companies,  I think they never intended to build certain things, but they release certain  works to get pass, then switch it up and go with designs they know would never had gotten approved in it intital stage..now they can scream about how much money they have already invested

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I've typed and erased about 10 different rants for this thread. 

 

At the end of the day, I had hoped that at the very least, in downtown, we had matured as a city. Seems as if our collective priority is still to the private automobile over a livable city and for developers to make a quick buck at the expense of the public good. 

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6 minutes ago, KinkaidAlum said:

At the end of the day, I had hoped that at the very least, in downtown, we had matured as a city. Seems as if our collective priority is still to the private automobile over a livable city and for developers to make a quick buck at the expense of the public good. 

 

^^^This, this, this all the way! As usual Kinkaid I agree with you 110%! I had also hoped for that at the beginning of this growth spurt we just finished. I thought maybe Houston is finally going to "grow up" and start taking pedestrian oriented development and how it affects quality of life, seriously. But I was mistaken because alot of the projects this past cycle either stuck to the same old tired development patterns or played the relentless "bait and switch" routine. I'm now doubting that this inner city car-centric mentality will ever change in my lifetime. 

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20 hours ago, bobruss said:

This is the kind of situation that frustrates the hell out of me. Any property built in the historic district should be required to have GFR. For that matter anything built downtown should be required to have more GFR. The CBD will remain a wasteland most of the day and all nights, unless there's retail and service GFR, to take care of all the errands you run everyday, things within close, safe, walking distance. Thats why people choose to live in downtown environments.

Some one in planning needs to wake up and realize that every block that developers get away without including GFR,  is one more down the drain. It hurts the neighborhood, since walking past blocks of ugly parking garages to get to the drug store isn't very stimulating and makes it much more likely that people won't go the extra three block passed nondescript walls and garages to get there, much less it detracts from the urban experience which usually includes more street presence by it's residents.

You can say what you want about controls, but if  you want a smart enjoyable experience living in the new residences in this neighborhood or one of many downtown neighborhoods that are now being built, your going to need lots of GFR, and if it takes more controls and requirements, to attain this goal, it needs to be done. It should be required.

Where's the downtown or historic district leadership, on this important integral part of developing a great and complete environment. Like the one they hoped for when they first gave out all that money to developers to produce the apartments and hotels, so people would come downtown and live. We need  someone to take charge  and take this project by the horns and finish strong. Finish this dream of having a living breathing neighborhood downtown. One thats there 24- 7.  Not  parking garages full of people you hardly ever see on the streets except when they're waiting for their buses all qued up in neat little rows or sliding out of the parking garages, covering their eyes due to the bright object in the sky, they've forgotten was there.  Now add all of those hotels that are either newly opened or going to open in the next year.  You think those people won't like places to walk to for things they might need or want. 

Real Estate developers might argue the reasoning, but I'm of the opinion, that, if you want it to really become a neighborhood, its got to have lots of convenient retail and service GFR. How about a Mediclinic somewhere in the neighborhood or a florist, doctor, dentist, barber, beauty salon, spa, galleries, bookstores, to name a few, and on and on and on. You get the picture. Someday they'll want the convenience of walking down the street instead of going to the parking garage, getting in their car, going down six levels and hopefully not get stuck in a line at crunch time, to merge into traffic

and  drive 10 blocks to midtown or Montrose to do anything like buy a lightbulb or get some hardware and then repeat the process.

Just remember that once its built, its there for a while. Like decades or centuries, so lets slow down and get it right this time.  It's kind of hard to retrofit a garage, if its not designed for GFR from the get go.............................................,................................................................................................................

 

 

Sorry, but I feel better now.

 

 

We could require GFR if we had zoning. Since we don't, we can't.

 

There is an easy way to guarantee GFR in every new development - make the GFR we have more profitable. Go out and spend your money. There is a lot of retail in the historic district sitting empty. If vacancy starts declining and rents start going up, future developments will include it.

 

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On 7/14/2016 at 0:07 AM, bobruss said:

Not  parking garages full of people you hardly ever see on the streets except when they're waiting for their buses all qued up in neat little rows or sliding out of the parking garages, covering their eyes due to the bright object in the sky, they've forgotten was there.  

 

Good post. Not to be picky, but are they parking their cars in garages or taking the bus? ;)

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12 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

We could require GFR if we had zoning. Since we don't, we can't.

 

There is an easy way to guarantee GFR in every new development - make the GFR we have more profitable. Go out and spend your money. There is a lot of retail in the historic district sitting empty. If vacancy starts declining and rents start going up, future developments will include it.

 

This is true but couldn't the city use property tax abatement and reductions to control GFR development.

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Sunstar, I know what your saying and I saw that after I had submitted but what can I say. It was late, I had pokemon people converging on my Menil neighborhood walking around like zombies with their iPhones lighting up the park and on my sidewalk until 12:00, and I was angry about the garage. I got my sentences confused and by the time I saw what I had done I said somehow the Haifers will understand my point. They all leave downtown without most of them ever poking their heads out of the tunnels or the buildings until they leave for the long drive home or on the bus.

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HTownman, I understand the dilemma, and I realize that there is vacant space available but I'm speaking to the future, and if people don't think ahead they will be behind. My point is that if they don't build out GFR in all of the new development where will people go to run errands, or shop or casually walk around the neighborhood with friends and window shop. You remember when people used to walk around town and window shop. Maybe your too young. People who want to live in a neighborhood downtown think they are going to have conveniences within walking distance. Thats the whole point of work, live, play environments, which I thought was the goal. To get people out of their cars. Look I know what Houston is and how it's developed around the car, but I thought we were trying to create a new urban downtown. That involves change and if the leasable spaces aren't available for hundreds of retail and service oriented businesses that will be attracted downtown in the future due to the demand when all of these projects start filling they won't have any place to put their shoe stores or Gaps or UPS or Verizon stores or the many many others. I've grown up here since 1954 and I know window-shopping in downtown. I know all about the no zoning issues and I understand  what your saying about zoning. What I'm saying is we need to change the system, fix it. They should have made it a requirement that every developer who got the TIRZ incentive $15,000.00 per unit break have GFR, and they didn't. Shame on them. Like I said in my rant. If you want to drive everywhere you can live in Sharpstown or Spring Branch but if you want downtown to really become what I thought was the goal a livable neighborhood your going to need the spaces. 

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21 minutes ago, bobruss said:

They should have made it a requirement that every developer who got the TIRZ incentive $15,000.00 per unit break have GFR, and they didn't.

 

I thought that there was a requirement that the building had to be built to at least accommodate it in the future - and the only ones I can think of that don't have GFR are Block 334 and the Hamilton, both of which look like they have a spot that could be converted to GFR.

 

If they didn't make it a requirement that was horribly short sighted.

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Since that particular structure is well within the 100 year flood plain, using the ground floor for retail (or pretty much anything other than parking) would likely be exceptionally difficult to get permitted; once permitted, much more expensive to build, and once built, probably wouldn't be perceived as ground floor anyway.  Any redevelopment of the drive in bank across the street would suffer the same fate.

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The places you mention were there long before anyone came up with the idea of flood maps, much less building codes regulating development in flood zones.  The jagged brickwork on the north side of the building just up Milam from the Magnolia is what's left of where the rest of the building fell into the bayou during one of the mid-1930s floods.

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In all fairness Mollusk wasn't that flood before they built Addicks and Barker dams. Those two dams were built in response to that flood to prevent another catastrophic flood like the one in 1930. You might be right about the hundred year flood plain. I haven't seen the maps but they could address that by creating some kind of raised foundation and maybe steps up to the shops. Spaghetti Warehouse seems to manage their location and its right up against the bayou. For that matter the Sunset Coffe bldg in Allens Landing sits right next to the bayou, and although their plans for the first floor are

for canoe rentals and planned with flooding in mind, they did plan it to mitigate the flooding damage. My whole point is that we need to think about the future for the betterment of these important downtown communities and without plenty of space available for these kinds of convenient GFR it won't really become what it should. A viable living working playing neighborhood, which will insure continued prosperity and growth for those communities.I really don't understand all of the pushback since it seems we all are hoping this becomes a reality. Sometimes rules need to be changed and goals re evaluated and changes mad to correct past regulations.

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Mollusk,  they might have been there long before they came up with the flood maps, but they are still there right?

Along with Spaghetti Warehouse and Sunset Coffee.

 

The block you mentioned,  is that the one the suburban looking chase drive through is on? Apart from Bobruss' s response, that block is right on the Bayou, despite being further down Milam.

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If the developers thought GFR would make them money, it would be included. Apparently they don't think it would be profitable, and it's their money that's being risked here. Want GFR? Build your own damn building, and quit trying to spend other people's money for crap you want for yourself.

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No one is spending other people's money.

I simply stated that flooding on that lot is a weak excuse as there are retail areas in buildings much closer (right on ) the Bayou.

 

I just drove past that lot and Franklin inclines.  So not only are there areas closer to the bayou, they are also at a lower elevation. Plus, it looks like the ground floor of what ever building was there before sat a bit higher than the curb. If the ground floor of whatever was there flooded,  all of downtown would be too at that point. 

 

And is it too much to want better for our city? 

Is it too much to want to preserve the look and feel of our historic district? 

Is it okay to always settle for less? 

 

 

Edited by HoustonIsHome
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Ross, I want you to understand that what I am trying to make clear is that anything we do now will have an impact on how this neighborhood will evolve. I think its more important to design projects that will give lasting benefit to the residents, while leaving all options available for everything. The theater district, which is being redesigned and in planning stages now, with major changes forthcoming will open up to the historic district and make it a more cohesive are. What the Buffalo Bayou conservancy has  already accomplished, and their future plans to mitigate flooding in this area with the White Oak diversion channel, which will alleviate much of the potential for flooding  in downtown. This is a planned future project of the conservancy, which will allow for more development in the very northern part of the Historic district right up to the southern banks which will lie just across from Midway's future North Bank, development on the old U.S. Post office site. Now wouldn't it be much more conducive if you could walk from North Bank on a landmark pedestrian/bicycle bridge  across Buffalo Bayou, into a mixed use historic district  where you had at your disposal theaters, shops galleries and the likes instead of a bunch of concrete blocks to house cars. Can't we be a little more visionary and look into the future and leave something for those future residents to use for convenience, instead of just trying to cash in on a quick turn around investment. This area has so much potential to be one of the most exciting places to live in Houston and there is no going back once you fill it up with a bunch of garages with no GFR for the future. This GFR will become popular and expensive because this is going to be a very high end market. If it is allowed to grow properly. 

 

Your last comment doesn't lend anything positive enlightenment to the discussions and shows a lack of understanding of what I'm trying to get across. 

I don't have any money, or I would be investing in this area, but it doesn't mean I can't make my suggestions without being disparaged for them. This is a forum and once you get it you'll maybe learn something because I don't live there and I probably won't due to the costs, but as a lifelong resident and steward of Houston's well being, I feel a responsibility to at least speak out and let my opinions be heard. I don't want to offend anyone but a serious discussion is always healthy for the environment in which we all must live.

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19 hours ago, Ross said:

If the developers thought GFR would make them money, it would be included. Apparently they don't think it would be profitable, and it's their money that's being risked here. Want GFR? Build your own damn building, and quit trying to spend other people's money for crap you want for yourself.

 

How original. I've never heard this argument before. 

 

I'll be sure to also get of your lawn...

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The good news is there are several other lots around this that could be sites for future development, in which case parking is already in place. There is the adjacent lot as well as the two lots with the drive through banking centers that are underutilized. 

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On 7/17/2016 at 3:01 PM, bobruss said:

You might be right about the hundred year flood plain. I haven't seen the maps but they could address that by creating some kind of raised foundation and maybe steps up to the shops. Spaghetti Warehouse seems to manage their location and its right up against the bayou.

 

Depends on how you define "manage". They sustained catastrophic water damage during Allison, and I believe the ground floor has flooded on several other occasions (including Ike). 

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I stand corrected. I still believe that eventually this northern end of downtown will become an important residential neighborhood and the downtown district will address this issue and find a way to mitigate the flooding issue. The effort to create a diversion channel off of White Oak will take quite a lot of pressure off the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak, at Allen's Landing, and create an island in the process. They intend to develop future residential and mixed use on both sides of the new northern channel. This might be 25 years down the road but it will happen and Market Square will blossom into a great place to live, work, visit, shop and play. Mark my words.

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Personally, I'd love to have something other than parking garages right up to the bayou.  The proposed diversion channel could be a way to turn that section of bayou into something akin to the San Antonio River in the Riverwalk area, and remove flooding as a consideration (or at least as much of one).  

Until that happens, though, when something new is built or substantially remodeled it has to be done in the context of the codes and conditions as they are at that time  (existing uses generally - but not always - get to stay as they are).  Building codes are frequently revised and generally made more strict, with particular provisions often written in response to something or another - for example, stricter rules (or rules at all) about flood prone areas were a direct result of the hammering we took during Allison.  There are things you could do even two years ago that you can't today (see Houston Building Code history), and that's what's driving how this particular structure is being built.  

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I went downtown and did some research today. I went to the location of this garage and realized that it was on the southern half of the block that fronts on Commerce, and just across the street from the bayou. The building on the North side of the block is a two story law firm. Their offices were on the second floor. I went in and found that there is a mediation office on the first floor. They had furniture in all of the downstairs rooms and they were conducting a meeting in the downstairs conference room with wall to wall carpeting, looking out a plate glass window. I went upstairs and spoke with the receptionist of the law firm.

She said that they've had two floods in the last two years. One put six feet of water in the first floor.

Maybe retail is not the answer for this block, however they did seem to continue to use this buildings first floor. I couldn't smell anything like mildew and they were holding a  meeting in the room. So they have figured out a way to make it work. Also Spaghetti Warehouse is still open so they've learned to work around it. Don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting that this would necessarily be a viable location for retail, but what the city might consider is raising all of this area because there is so much potential in this area. I still think this area is going to boom this particular block needs special consideration. This also should be a garage worthy of being the doormat of downtown Houston  coming in on 45N.

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

One thing that seems to have been glossed over a bit is that the north side of this is going to be a 10 story blank wall of precast concrete.  For perspective, that's a floor taller than the nearby Bayou Lofts.  What a welcoming vision coming into downtown on Milam.

 

Although it's probably not relevant to any sort of permitting review, two way traffic garages on less than a quarter block are also a royal pain to navigate.  This one ought to be particularly fun on a weekend night, with parking valets and pleasantly buzzed bar patrons jousting on those two lanes that are roughly the width of a suburban two car driveway.

 

The suckage is strong with this one.

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  • 1 month later...
3 hours ago, HoustonIsHome said:

This is a horrible look for the entry into downtown

 

The renders that get posted don't even show the blank wall rivaling the Marriott Marquis that will face traffic coming in from the Katy and 45 north - solid concrete panels with filled firestop joints.

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  • Highrise Tower changed the title to Franklin And Milam: 10-Story Garage

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