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Houston: The New River City?


bkjones98

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I would like to hear a discussion on what everyone thinks about the current plans for resurrecting and utilizing Buffalo Bayou.

If this is old news, I apologize. Perhaps opinions have changed in wake of current construction along the bayou.

The website is rather detailed and provides an abundance of pictures for those of us who are more visual.

http://www.buffalobayou.org/

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Who cares about opening up shop?

We just need to make it more accessible for recreation.

There is PRIME park land where the 59 N. HOV enters downtown (old Frostown).

Unfortunately, it's a bum-encampment at the moment.

The whole point of the project is to remedy that. Does any one have dates, when and who will build this project? I know this project has been discussed in the Houston Chronicle while back, but I have not heard a thing new.

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"low row to hoe," indeed. I have also been watching their progress, and their current pace is rather slow. I think that they aren't merely widening the bayou, but making the banks suitable for construction of the amenities, which, of course, requires more foundation preparation.

In my personal opinion, the idea of creating real waterfront property in downtown is a breath of fresh air. I always read on these discussions the need for the "critical mass" in downtown. This plan, I think, will create a real desire to live and develop in downtown because of the abundance of recreational facilities it will provide. In addition, with an expanded waterway, the city will finally have distinguishing characteristics instead of just a drainage ditch and skyscrapers.

The master plan reminds me of the San Antonio Riverwalk

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I don't think it will ever be like the River Walk, for one as a working bayou, the water can be pretty rank sometimes, especially when it doesn't rain and the water stagnates. The SA riverwalk is a man made canal, at least the tourist part, and is flood controlled to boot. The only thing we can do with it is gentrify it. I think the first proposal started in the 80's with Cathy Whitmire.

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I don't think it will ever be like the River Walk, for one as a working bayou, the water can be pretty rank sometimes, especially when it doesn't rain and the water stagnates. The SA riverwalk is a man made canal, at least the tourist part, and is flood controlled to boot. The only thing we can do with it is gentrify it. I think the first proposal started in the 80's with Cathy Whitmire.

My opinion of urban development here is SLOOOOOWWWWW....I look at midtown and see a bunch of condo's but no real commerce. PRobably 5,000 residents but no real shopping centers aside from the one really close to downtown. I looked at some property down there by the bayou and thought it would be a decade before this is developed.

If the city had a good - or at least esistant - planning department, I think there are tons of opportunities for the City of Houston to be a major cultural and activity based attraction. There is land, and good paying jobs - or at least some, that make it feasible for good communities to develop near the city for a low price (relative to other cities).

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The plan was modelled on Boston's Emerald Necklace, one of the classic American urban parks, designed in the 1800's by Frederick Law Olmsted (the landscape firm is from Boston). Projected public investment for this is $1 billion. Needless to say, this is not so much a plan that will ever be voted on and approved or rejected as it is a vision to guide those projects on Buffalo Bayou that can get done. It represents the ideal state of the bayou as an urban park in a 21st century city - our job is to aim in this direction and get as close to this as we can (which may not be close at all).

There has already to my knowledge been some discussion of the downtown canal proposals, and I think there is an issue here with cost-benefits. But I think that all of our politicians at the very least want to see a continuous system of trails along the bayou from Shepherd to the Turning Basin, and I imagine that we will see that develop in the next decade or so.

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My opinion of urban development here is SLOOOOOWWWWW....I look at midtown and see a bunch of condo's but no real commerce.  PRobably 5,000 residents but no real shopping centers aside from the one really close to downtown.  I looked at some property down there by the bayou and thought it would be a decade before this is developed.

If the city had a good - or at least esistant - planning department, I think there are tons of opportunities for the City of Houston to be a major cultural and activity based attraction.  There is land, and good paying jobs - or at least some, that make it feasible for good communities to develop near the city for a low price (relative to other cities).

The City's development might seem slow but part of that is due to so many different areas being redeveloped at the same time. Some areas have changed very quickly, like Rice Military/Lower Heights. No zoning bureaucracy to deal with, just free-market forces. Midtown seems slow too but apparently the people with money at risk haven't decided that a major shopping center there is warranted yet. But if you look at how the residential developments have been flowering for the past 10 years, it's getting to the point where the population and per-capita income of Midtown should start to spark some more retail, especially as the east side of 288 is starting to get redone. And let's not forget that the proposed Pavillions project Downtown is probably due a lot to Midtown's population.

Buffalo Bayou is a long-term vision so 10 years from now there might not be a huge change from today but the direction towards residential/retail/recreational will persist. The bayous are too wide and potentially beautiful on the Eastend to remain underutilized. We have a lot of available land around town to remake as mentioned above but, as slow as it seems to be going, we will start running out at some point and then the Bayou area and the East End in general will really kick into gear. This early part of the century is just the staging/conversion period.

The local politicians (Garcia, Alvarado, Quan, White) all seem to be behind the Master Plan. Hopefully, when the time comes to spend some serious $, as in the Downtown canals and the Symphony Island creation, we won't be in some economic pinch and lose out.

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My main concern is keeping the homeless from setting up camp and making people feel safe enough to enjoy the bayou without fear of getting mugged.

Sorry if that was insensitive, but I would consider it a realist statement.

Yeah.... <_< Most homeless don't mug people. They panhandle......some don't even do that.....they just bumb around hence they are also kown as bumbs. They may seem a bit unpleasent but be assure they are for the most part Harmless ;)

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The riverwalk idea is neat, i guess.

Man, that would be really cool if it got to be like the san marcos river, were you could kayak/canoe/toob(probably not enough current) and even swim, but it would be a engineering marvel to get the water that clean.

Besides, if a storm like Katrina hit houston, buffalo bayou would have a tidal wave going down it...

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Have you seen what happens to that bayou during a really good gully washer. All the businesses on this proposed "River Walk" would have to be either Scuba shops or Snorkel outlets. Maybe Starbucks could hand out "inner tubes" with each mocha grande half-soy latte they sell, and then you could jump in and float down during your lunchbreak. It's genius ! :ph34r:^_^

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  • 2 weeks later...
The water in the bayou is disgusting. They are building a sewarwalk.

No, they're actually planning on cleaning it up using natural approaches like "green fingers" and wetland creation as well as going after the source of the pollution, which I believe is a combination of lingering industrial lining the bayou and storm drains emptying trash into it, which is more difficult to correct since it involves convincing people not to litter. Buffalo Bayou Master Plan

I have no doubt that they can turn the bayou back into a beautiful stream. I live near Mason Park on the East End and I'm watching the work on Project Brays, where they're combining flood control with wetland creation/recreation by building a walking trail along the banks. Even though it's still unplanted, the new marsh areas are already attracting tons of water birds. One "problem" I see will be the eventual return of a healthy gator population to both bayous.

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Have you seen what happens to that bayou during a really good gully washer. All the businesses on this proposed "River Walk" would have to be either Scuba shops or Snorkel outlets. Maybe Starbucks could hand out "inner tubes" with each mocha grande half-soy latte they sell, and then you could jump in and float down during your lunchbreak. It's genius ! :ph34r:^_^

My understanding is that many of the businesses proposed along the bayou will be of the 'temporary' structure sort - i.e. kiosks and such that can be moved with short notice in case of inclement weather. I don't think they are planning permanent structures like what you might come across in San Antonio's riverwalk.

On another note, i was in Oklahoma City's 'Bricktown' district last wkd during our hurricane hiatus. Pretty impressive, though very 'corporate franchise' feeling. Houston could certainly learn from what they've done with their 'warehouse district'. Especially how they've focussed businesses around the minor league stadium that they have there...

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Yeah.... <_< Most homeless don't mug people. They panhandle......some don't even do that.....they just bumb around hence they are also kown as bumbs. They may seem a bit unpleasent but be assure they are for the most part Harmless ;)

I used to work on Main near Congress and parked my car near the old Star of Hope. I would go get my car just before dark. I did this for many years and never had a single problem. But I must admit that when a number of them congregate they become an eyesore and make people want to avoid an area. I'm not sure of the best way to deal with that.

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Darlings! The River City is Omaha! Check out the booming river front SKYRISE they are building up there!

And yes, that is a Santiago Calavatra bridge to built accross the Missouri River. Fabulous, and in OMAHA, who knew?

Omaha is a good example of the same thing that is happening to Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, St. Louis, Memphis, New York, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Washington DC, Portland.....and Houston. They are all experiencing extreme makeovers of their flowing bodies of water.

They've gone from wild streams guiding explorations in the 19th century to polluted industrial workhorses in the 20th Century and now are being transformed into urban centers of art, recreation and upscale living. They've matured and now it's time for a graceful midlife.

It's an exciting time to be in a city with a river as they all run through the heart of the city and thus, are destined to become desireable, decked-out jewels of urban splendor. We are way behind many cities in this regard but hindsight has the advantage of being able to study other projects and use the best as options for our own creations.

How long will the humble Buffalo Bayou remain a lifeless drainage ditch on the East End? It's transformation is inevitable. Laugh at it all you want, but there's no way people will not want to be there, either living above it, walking along it, or floating on it, once the projects are completed. It's not as wide as some of the big rivers but that allows for the advantage of a liquid parkway effect, with towers lining each bank, and not far enough away from each other to be in another city. Smaller bridges too, for pedestrian crossings. Little by little, the banks will get developed all the way to the ship channel. We are blessed. There is no where to go but up.

Of course, take your aspirin a day with a glass of red wine because you'll need to stay in good health as this could take decades to even start to hit full flower.

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Darlings! The River City is Omaha! Check out the booming river front SKYRISE they are building up there!

And yes, that is a Santiago Calavatra bridge to built accross the Missouri River. Fabulous, and in OMAHA, who knew?

http://www.riverfrontplace.com/

pichome110dt.jpg

Are you sure that's a Calatrava bridge? It's not listed on his web site or in any other reference I could find.

Do you have a link with more information?

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Are you sure that's a Calatrava bridge? It's not listed on his web site or in any other reference I could find.

Do you have a link with more information?

That bridge is very reminiscent of the Fred Hartman Bridge, in good ol' Baytown. Designed by TxDot dist.12 architects. ;)

Why, just looky here.

http://www.ce.jhu.edu/njones/personal/imag...eral%20View.jpg

Edited by TJones
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No, they're actually planning on cleaning it up using natural approaches like "green fingers" and wetland creation as well as going after the source of the pollution, which I believe is a combination of lingering industrial lining the bayou and storm drains emptying trash into it, which is more difficult to correct since it involves convincing people not to litter. Buffalo Bayou Master Plan

I have no doubt that they can turn the bayou back into a beautiful stream. I live near Mason Park on the East End and I'm watching the work on Project Brays, where they're combining flood control with wetland creation/recreation by building a walking trail along the banks. Even though it's still unplanted, the new marsh areas are already attracting tons of water birds. One "problem" I see will be the eventual return of a healthy gator population to both bayous.

The bayou may in time become "clean" in that there are not large floating pieces of trash, but it will never be clean in that it is not beige and murky. As a general rule, all the rivers (and creeks and bayous) in Texas from the Brazos eastward flow muddy, all the rivers from the Colorado westward flow clear. It has to do with our loamy, organic soil. Bayous flow even more slowly than rivers, and hence will always be muddy. We might get it a little less muddy with the green fingers, but trying to turn the bayou into a clear, attractive stream a la the Colorado or San Antonio river is like trying to turn a chicken into a horse. You can put a saddle on it, and comb back its tail, and clamp a couple miniature horseshoes on its feet, but at the end of the day, a chicken's a chicken, and a horse is a horse.

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I think just as long as there are no chemicals in the bayou from the chemical and oil refineries down stream it would look as good as it can. I mean after the clean up. My biggest fear is that once this project is complete people will begin to get sick from chemicals being dumped deliberately or otherwise. I also would not like to see three eyed frogs, five headed water snakes, or shark size minnows.

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They've had a trash cleaning skiff for several years now, so it is largely clear of trash already. Couldn't agree more on the muddy part, though. It may not stink, but it'll always be brown.

When it rains and we get runoff water, it is brown. On quiet days, it can be a dark green, not brown, which makes it far more inviting.

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Is it my understanding that they intend to make the bayou boatable? That would be awesome.

A buddy here just purchased a boat while he was on leave. I've convinced him to go exploring down the bayous with me. I'm sure there are parts of the bayou that are too shallow or narrow to take a good size boat down, but we'll try to check out as many places as we can. Eventually we'll go kayaking down the bayous.

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When it rains and we get runoff water, it is brown. On quiet days, it can be a dark green, not brown, which makes it far more inviting.

Sure, It's inviting you to come catch some nasty virus in it's stagnet waters. It's saying," I got your flesh eating virus right here, come and get it." :D

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From the Buffalo Bayou Partnership website:

Water quality is the one blemish on the face of Buffalo Bayou. The storm drains throughout urban Houston drain directly into the bayou carrying litter, oil, fertilizers, toxic chemicals, and other non-point source pollutants that come directly from our manicured lawns, little-league fields, and golf courses. Unfortunately, Buffalo Bayou and White Oak currently have the worst water quality of any stream or river in Texas. Most pernicious are the sub-normal levels of E.Coli bacteria. Of course, the Art Guys drank the water and lived to tell about it!

There have been efforts made to prevent runoff from new construction in the Buffalo Bayou watershed (which accounts for much of the murkiness after rainstorms). Chemical plants and refineries have little or no effect on water quality, as they're located downstream. The challenge is educating people about the consequences of their actions - that indiscriminate use of fertilizers, insecticides, etc. have a very real impact on the quality of our waterways.

"We have met the enemy, and they are us." - Pogo

edit: This statement just grabbed my attention:"Most pernicious are the sub-normal levels of E.Coli bacteria." Can E. Coli be beneficial in a waterway?

Edited by dbigtex56
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I think just as long as there are no chemicals in the bayou from the chemical and oil refineries down stream it would look as good as it can. I mean after the clean up. My biggest fear is that once this project is complete people will begin to get sick from chemicals being dumped deliberately or otherwise. I also would not like to see three eyed frogs, five headed water snakes, or shark size minnows.

I recently took the ship channel tour (this is something I would recommend for everyone) with my great-uncle, who used to be a security guard on the ship channel back in the 70's. When we were on the boat, which begins its tour from the turning basin and proceeds downstream, we saw a lot of fish. My uncle said that you never used to see fish on the ship channel. He also said that the water back then was very nasty, and it looks pretty clean right now.

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  • 5 weeks later...
When it rains and we get runoff water, it is brown. On quiet days, it can be a dark green, not brown, which makes it far more inviting.

They should solve that problem with a true Houston solution: turn it into Astroworld water, ya know, that milky blue color that looks like blue Koolaid.

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Omaha is a good example of the same thing that is happening to Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, St. Louis, Memphis, New York, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Washington DC, Portland.....and Houston. They are all experiencing extreme makeovers of their flowing bodies of water.

All the projects mentioned above have a "River". Houston on the other hand has a "Bayou" which by definition is a rank, stagnate, marginally tidal sewer. Now way will it ever be like the parks listed above. Evan the SA "Riverwalk" is manmade and is drained periodically so that it can be cleaned. This project is nothing but wishful thinking. When was the last time you were in Allen's Landing after dark?

P1010056.jpg

here are the steps that were mentioned ealier in the thread

P1010057.jpg

and some landscaping along the bayou

P1010058.jpg

P1010059.jpg

Trying to beautfy the underside of the freeway is sort of like putting lipstick on a pig.

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