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Timoric

Amazon HQ2

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7 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I don't think so. Just a few hundred employees, but that's where the prestige is and the decisions are made. They moved the lower-level jobs here because they had to, it's where the industry is; they moved the upper-level jobs there because they wanted to.

 

The move to Dallas was in 1989 or 1990, and was a deliberate choice to locate away from operational sites. I've seen articles somewhere that Atlanta was considered. I suspect one reason for Texas was the lack of a state income tax.

6 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

I expect the HQ will move down here at some point with the fancy new consolidated campus.  If not, it's probably because of corporate values that want to keep HQ staff separated from business units so they make more objective budgeting and investment decisions (people are naturally biased towards the people they're around every day).  GE and Boeing - among others - do the same thing.

That's the explanation given by then CEO Rex Tillerson here http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/10/23/exxon-mobil-ceo-not-moving-headquarters-to-houston/

 

 

There will be other opportunities to attract new companies. Hopefully without giving up any great amounts of subsidies.

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There are plenty of reasons the UT campus should not have moved forward.  Don’t jump topics.

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10 hours ago, Fortune said:

Houston, the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston First, Houstons leaders should all be embarrassed that Houston didn't even make it to the top 20. I really hope that this lights a fire, because Houston really needs to get its s**t together. There are to many backwards thinkers running Houston. There is no reason the UT campus should not have moved forward in Houston, there is no reason our mass transit should not be further along than it is. We need a more diversified economy!

 

How exactly can Houston's leaders diversify the economy? Are you suggesting some sort of state owned/controlled industry? Hysteria aside, Houston will be just fine. Fortunately Houston's leaders are pretty rational. If you want to see a case study on how local leaders can cause a mass exodus of citizens from a region, just look at the failed polices of Chicago's mayors and alderman. 

 

My two cents:

 

Long term pluses for Houston:

Johnson Space Center. NASA really put Houston on the map. Unfortunately the previous administration ended man space exploration. However the current administration is reversing that policy. That can only be good for Houston.

Bush Airport. Not really reported much but yesterday/today IAH launched a new route to Sydney. It's currently the second longest route from the US. Cities would kill for the amount of international routes Houston has. 

Energy: Again, favorable policies on energy will only help Houston.

Health Care: Baby boomers are getting older every day. 

Port of Houston:

Etc,...I could keep going but you get the picture.

 

Long term challenges:

Image problem: Houston is an ugly spread out city. It just is. Houston's 600 sq miles is half of the state of rhode island. It's pretty much the worst laid out city in the world for mass public transportation. But if the image of mass transpiration is really that import then maybe Houston can spend a few billion on a vanity project. Like that maglev to Shanghai's airport that operates at a deficit, transports very few people and provides no viable market solution for travelers, yet is very "cool".

 

Universities: Rice is top notch, but is way too small and pumps out way too few graduates. I was surprised at how many people had never heard of Rice up here in Chicago. I know that Rice prefers to be the Princeton of the south instead of the Harvard of the south, but on a few key majors/disciplines they need to greatly expand for the betterment of the region. 

 

 

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I think Dallas and Austin are consistently regarded as more attractive than Houston for 3 reasons: 

 

1. Complacency.

To me Houston is the most complete city in Texas. We know it but we often assume respect but never demand it. Our attitude is often " we will definitely get the bid because Dallas had nothing on us and let's not even talk about Austin." Where we often fail is that we don't show how good we are we just lay there and hope for the best. Which brings me to #2. 

 

2. Marketing.

Dallas and Austin know they lack the resources that Houston has, but they never let that bring them down. While Houston is bragging about how they are better than DFW and Austin, DFW and Austin are putting out lists of reasons why they are great fits. We do not market ourselves enough. Out shining fellow cities is not marketing. It's just bragging.

 

3. Perception.

Putting the first two together it seems we have a perception problem and we are to blame. Dallas and Atlanta grow because they see a value in a new job no matter what that might be. 

It's great to be the capital of am industry but even better to have that an be attractive in other areas. When I graduated from school in San Antonio and I told my neighbors I was moving to Houston everyone kept saying why Houston and that Austin would be much better for young people. When asked why all they could say is that it just is. Even Texas leaders when there is talk about corporate relocations they immediately think Dallas. Why? Because that's where companies relocate.

 

4. Weak proposals.

We know we are great but we need to start doing a better job at going after things more forcefully by showcasing our strengths. If we do not believe that we are a good fit and Texas leaders don't see us as a good fit what makes you think companies would see it as a good fit to move here? We are just as liberal as Austin but we are not Austin and should not be compared to Austin. We are just as business friendly as Dallas but we are not Dallas. We are Houston and should show off Houston and it's amenities instead of bringing down or neighbors.

The two choices floated around were week in my opinion. And I didn't really hear much incentives that were ear pulling. The KBR site is an awesome piece of real estate but weed poorly packaged with transit and residential. I know you are all going to talk about all the nearby new builds but how it was packaged was lackluster. 

The other site in the Northeast was even worse in terms of promotion. Again the other cities put out a site and they say if you come we will do this and that and you will enjoy his this related to that and we will make it so that you will live how this interact with that. For us we say look how awesome this plot is. Or "look how ready this site is" 

 

Anyway, on a more positive note. My city is resilient. We will diversity. We will continue to attract lots of new jobs. We just need to realize that the big ones get away mainly because we have a more lukewarm approach to attracting them. 

 

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1 hour ago, ToryGattis said:

It does make me think why Amazon was even looking for large A-class cities to begin with (Houston, Philadelphia, NYC, Chicago, etc.), which already have big problems with housing prices, homelessness, and traffic. That's why I think they should be looking for B-class cities that have good connections with A-class cities but aren't connected, like Pittsburgh, places in Ohio, etc. (I would consider Detroit and Austin to be B-class but not good candidates but different reasons).

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14 hours ago, Fortune said:

Houston, the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston First, Houstons leaders should all be embarrassed that Houston didn't even make it to the top 20. I really hope that this lights a fire, because Houston really needs to get its s**t together. There are to many backwards thinkers running Houston. There is no reason the UT campus should not have moved forward in Houston, there is no reason our mass transit should not be further along than it is. We need a more diversified economy!

When the congressman from our district squashes future projects which would compliment our existing rail lines its pretty hard to work around it.

Especially when he is one of the players on the transportation committee and has written into the transportation bills that Houston will not receive any money for rail along Richmond or Post Oak, due to a very small handful of his constituents. Half of the properties along Richmond who had tenants that were negative about the rail aren't even there anymore and quite a few of the properties have been bulldozed and major mid rise apartments have been built in their place. Which would seem to provide riders for said line.

It would also be the final piece that would connect pretty much every major cultural, university, medical, sports, business districts and residential areas in the city.

When you have two dodards Delay and Culbertson in charge of transportation plans consecutively that are against mass transit it kind of puts you in a hole.

No telling how large a mass transit system we might have now if they hadn't got in the way. There is a solution coming up this November and you need to do your homework and find the alternative to John Quack Culbertson.

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It may be semantics, but IMO, the core issue for non-inclusion was the site.  We shouldn't have presented a "please help us make our city better" location (east side)... we should have presented a "this is what Houston is all about and it's AWESOME" location.  Generation Park would have been ok, though it's damn far to town, and it's green-field.  There are lots of great big empty lots in this country, and we didn't need to show Amazon an empty lot, we needed to show them something that would have fit into the fabric, culture, and excitement of our town.

 

Trying to think of sites that I would have presented (and ignoring who owns them), I offer three options. 

1. The Rice-owned property on Main where the old Sears is going to close (in town, transit, colleges, area is dynamic and building, plenty of apartments and a good scene)

2. The Energy-Corridor at I-10 and HW 6 where plans show a campus similar to what this would become (bus transit, good highway connections, access to suburban homes and great schools, planned dense developement, Top Golf)

3. Around the future Bellaire transit station (transit, access to Uptown, 'relatively' convenient to areas out west)

 

These sites are true Houston, fit into an existing fabric (rather than trying to make something from scratch), and cater to the demographic of the Amazon workforce.

We shouldn't have put the success or failure of a neighborhood on the company, we should have invited them to participate in the ongoing success of an area.  

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17 minutes ago, bobruss said:

When the congressman from our district squashes future projects which would compliment our existing rail lines its pretty hard to work around it.

Especially when he is one of the players on the transportation committee and has written into the transportation bills that Houston will not receive any money for rail along Richmond or Post Oak, due to a very small handful of his constituents. Half of the properties along Richmond who had tenants that were negative about the rail aren't even there anymore and quite a few of the properties have been bulldozed and major mid rise apartments have been built in their place. Which would seem to provide riders for said line.

It would also be the final piece that would connect pretty much every major cultural, university, medical, sports, business districts and residential areas in the city.

When you have two dodards Delay and Culbertson in charge of transportation plans consecutively that are against mass transit it kind of puts you in a hole.

No telling how large a mass transit system we might have now if they hadn't got in the way. There is a solution coming up this November and you need to do your homework and find the alternative to John Quack Culbertson.

 

Not this again. I'm not going to break down everything but...

- A lot of the Inner Loop has densified in the last 10 years without rail

- Traditional METRORail wouldn't have worked at all outside the Inner Loop, Dallas-style commuter hybrid rail would struggle to gain ridership due to the slow speed, and either way the street-running rail system would be dog slow

- Even as it is, the Red Line is highly successful but it takes nearly an hour to go from Northline to Fannin (52 minutes according to METRO's schedule) whereas the equivalent drive is about 20 minutes in non-peak freeway times

 

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There are people who have no other way of getting around than mass transit and for them every little bit helps. 

You don't have to ride it. Others will and will take cars off the streets. Its about options and great cities have them. We don't.

Your right traditional rail wasn't meant for commuter lines, but how do you create commuter lines that take everyone to all of the different 

centers of commerce. Galleria, Med center, downtown, energy corridor, greens point, and the  woodlands. Houston is almost too disjointed for commuter lines but by first building a rail system that connects all centers of commerce to each other allows for more of the commuter lines to help.

You could build a commuter line to Sugarland and  Rosenburg that carries much of the med center that could connect to the red line.

Same for Katy freeway or 290 that could connect to the bus hub at old katy. and so on. 

Your own statement about the density is just the reason it will be more useful and help take cars off the streets. 

I don't know anything about you but a lot of the young people that I talk to don't necessarily care about cars and would prefer to take the rail when convenient. Thats one of the selling points for all of the new development along the rail.

You have to be more open to the future. If you wait until then its too late to build the infrastructure.

I don't understand your why this again.  Its a fundamental issue that people like Amazon, Apple and the high tech industry are looking for.

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4 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

 

I think the main think for these cities is guaranteeing themselves a future in the 21st century. Pittsburgh was relevant in the 20th century because of industry, but industry is gone. They need something new to be relevant. Newark is doling out more than anyone because they are a hellhole. They need to put themselves on the map again.

 

The intoxicating thing about HQ2 is that it's a magic bullet - you can instantly go from irrelevant to relevant. It's like hitting a grand slam when you're down 3-0. If you have 50,000 Amazon jobs, no one can say you're not a relevant city for tech. And more jobs will follow these.

 

Houston also needs to worry about its future post-oil, but the first thing we need to worry about now is flooding. Nothing else we do really matters if that fear is hanging over us. We might just need to exit these beauty pageants for awhile and get back to fundamentals.

 

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1 minute ago, bobruss said:

I don't understand your why this again.

Because I got in a lot of pointless arguments with Slick Vik which dealt with almost the same talking points and more recently a discussion regarding the Galveston rail (especially if the argument was both "before its time" and "instant economy just add rail"). Also, I noticed that you changed your argument ("add rail" -> "more density" to "more density" -> "need rail").

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2 hours ago, SkylineView said:

It may be semantics, but IMO, the core issue for non-inclusion was the site.  We shouldn't have presented a "please help us make our city better" location (east side)... we should have presented a "this is what Houston is all about and it's AWESOME" location.  Generation Park would have been ok, though it's damn far to town, and it's green-field.  There are lots of great big empty lots in this country, and we didn't need to show Amazon an empty lot, we needed to show them something that would have fit into the fabric, culture, and excitement of our town.

 

Trying to think of sites that I would have presented (and ignoring who owns them), I offer three options. 

1. The Rice-owned property on Main where the old Sears is going to close (in town, transit, colleges, area is dynamic and building, plenty of apartments and a good scene)

2. The Energy-Corridor at I-10 and HW 6 where plans show a campus similar to what this would become (bus transit, good highway connections, access to suburban homes and great schools, planned dense developement, Top Golf)

3. Around the future Bellaire transit station (transit, access to Uptown, 'relatively' convenient to areas out west)

 

These sites are true Houston, fit into an existing fabric (rather than trying to make something from scratch), and cater to the demographic of the Amazon workforce.

We shouldn't have put the success or failure of a neighborhood on the company, we should have invited them to participate in the ongoing success of an area.  

I think your number one location will be an excellent site for an urban campus if the university line is built I see this area having more desirability than downtown. I think downtown will improve once the near neighborhood are integrated more. Being surrounded by highways and homeless gives it an isolated feel.  UHD expansion, the post office site, 45 removal, revitalized theater district and the EADO projects will make downtown more integrated. I don't see Dallas street developing as a viable retail district until the near neighborhoods are tied in better.

 

Your number 2 would be an excellent suburban choice. The West side is highly populated, it has access to a variety of housing stock, lots of doing and entertainment options and closer to more business then generation park. 

 

I am not too familiar with the Bellaire transit center area.

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4 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

How exactly can Houston's leaders diversify the economy? Are you suggesting some sort of state owned/controlled industry? Hysteria aside, Houston will be just fine. Fortunately Houston's leaders are pretty rational. If you want to see a case study on how local leaders can cause a mass exodus of citizens from a region, just look at the failed polices of Chicago's mayors and alderman. 

 

My two cents:

 

Long term pluses for Houston:

Johnson Space Center. NASA really put Houston on the map. Unfortunately the previous administration ended man space exploration. However the current administration is reversing that policy. That can only be good for Houston.

Bush Airport. Not really reported much but yesterday/today IAH launched a new route to Sydney. It's currently the second longest route from the US. Cities would kill for the amount of international routes Houston has. 

Energy: Again, favorable policies on energy will only help Houston.

Health Care: Baby boomers are getting older every day. 

Port of Houston:

Etc,...I could keep going but you get the picture.

 

 

You don't need a state to own or control an industry to diversify your local economy... you need a good municipal / regional recruiting agency and to be able to market your area's assets. The Greater Houston Partnership is notably weak on this subject and was very probably a contributing factor in a weak pitch to Amazon. What surprises me is for such a large MSA, there's notably very little ambition to be better, or to think big. HoustonIsHome nailed it on the head - there's complacency in the status quo.
 

Houston's biggest regional competition, Dallas, used to have a terrible reputation as dysfunctional city government and is often lambasted as the home of the "$30,000 Millionaire"...but even it's biggest detractors can't accuse Dallas of being small minded or complacent in not being a Tier 1 city. Correspondingly, city leaders in North Texas have made dedicated efforts in attracting new blood to the economy by selling the attractiveness of the school districts, high living standards and inland port. As a result, in the last handful of years MSA has seen Toyota totally relocate from California, and new offices for Liberty Mutual, State Farm, JP Morgan, and others...all solid, high paying, jobs that feed the economy. 

 

With respect to your "pluses," Houston is indeed better off for being strong in those industries, but isn't it somewhat outlandish that there's so few to note given the size of this market? Every economic forum or market outlook lunch I go to I hear the same refrain as speakers count them out on their fingers..."energy, aerospace, and medical"...as though these negate the weakness in other sectors like tech, finance or tourism. What's additionally perplexing to me is that aerospace (aka NASA) is so often spoken of as a pillar of the economy when it's job contribution is a fraction of other hard sciences...representing only 3% of the engineering jobs in town. In some respects it almost seems like "Space City" is hanging its hat on a by gone day. 

 

Houston has incredible neighborhoods and arguably a higher capacity to be a regional capital for business for the gulf coast states and yet we never see anything marketing why financial institutions, tech firms or new industries should plant roots here...let alone an attempt to counter the national narrative that Houston is an ugly industrial afterthought. Why? 

 

Energy will forever be a volatile marketplace and yet there seems no earnest public effort to plan for the future and really diversify the economy. Why?

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21 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

Enjoyed the article. You mentioned Austin and Dallas as better fits for Amazon. Speaking on Dallas only, why do you believe it’s a better fit for Amazon? I’m asking because I really don’t know. What doesn’t Dallas have that we don’t? Does Dallas have a better reputation than Houston outside of Texas?

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11 minutes ago, HOUTEX said:

Energy will forever be a volatile marketplace and yet there seems no earnest public effort to plan for the future and really diversify the economy. Why?

Notably very little ambition to be better, or think big?  The amount of change that has occurred in Houston over the past several years is remarkable.  Just because the city missed the Amazon bid and has not diversified at the quick pace you had hoped for, does not mean there is no public effort for the future.  If anything the rhetoric for the city over the past few years has been all on fostering a tech community and continuing to diversify..  There are a lot of eyes on our emerging life science sector and it is bringing a lot of big industry player's attention to the TMC, - this is an extremely exciting development for our city, among others.

 

And any association with Houston and complacency is laughable.

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7 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I think the main think for these cities is guaranteeing themselves a future in the 21st century. Pittsburgh was relevant in the 20th century because of industry, but industry is gone. They need something new to be relevant. Newark is doling out more than anyone because they are a hellhole. They need to put themselves on the map again.

 

The intoxicating thing about HQ2 is that it's a magic bullet - you can instantly go from irrelevant to relevant. It's like hitting a grand slam when you're down 3-0. If you have 50,000 Amazon jobs, no one can say you're not a relevant city for tech. And more jobs will follow these.

 

Houston also needs to worry about its future post-oil, but the first thing we need to worry about now is flooding. Nothing else we do really matters if that fear is hanging over us. We might just need to exit these beauty pageants for awhile and get back to fundamentals.

 

 

Your "instant relevancy" reminds me of desperate sports teams that overpay for veteran free agent talent - it's a shortcut that almost never works out.  Better to build a foundation over time with young talent at affordable prices (like the Astros!).

 

5 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

Enjoyed the article. You mentioned Austin and Dallas as better fits for Amazon. Speaking on Dallas only, why do you believe it’s a better fit for Amazon? I’m asking because I really don’t know. What doesn’t Dallas have that we don’t? Does Dallas have a better reputation than Houston outside of Texas?

 

This is a tricky one. Of course I think Houston is better than Dallas - more global, more diverse, more authentic and organic (from the lack of zoning).  But outsiders just see "ugly" (we're not a tidy hyper-planned Disneyville) with a bunch of ethnicities and cultures they're not very comfortable with.  And the reality is that we're also more industrial with more hurricane and flooding risk (and summer humidity) than Dallas.  Dallas is better at the tidy planned bland suburban corporate office park HQ, esp. for more tech-type companies like TI, AT&T, telecoms, and Toyota.  They are a safe, comfortable choice with a fantastic airport and lots of flights to everywhere. But we also have to accept the reality that the energy industry is a two-edged sword: it provides lots of high-paying jobs, but that's also why companies in other industries don't want to locate here and compete with energy for talent - especially when oil might spike to $100+ a barrel at any time (btw, for the same reason I would be stunned if Amazon ended up in NYC competing with Wall Street for tech talent).  In Austin, tech competes with govt and the university - pretty easy.  In San Antonio, Toyota competes with tourism and the military - also pretty easy.  Dallas doesn't have any companies that might suddenly be swimming in cash and poaching your talent.  In fact, it has plenty of talent you can poach! (although not as much as DC, which I think will be the ultimate winner).  Put simply, Amazon wants to be the big fish in their new pond, and there's a definite risk that might not be the case in Houston (depending on energy prices).

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19 hours ago, HOUTEX said:

With respect to your "pluses," Houston is indeed better off for being strong in those industries, but isn't it somewhat outlandish that there's so few to note given the size of this market? Every economic forum or market outlook lunch I go to I hear the same refrain as speakers count them out on their fingers..."energy, aerospace, and medical"...as though these negate the weakness in other sectors like tech, finance or tourism. What's additionally perplexing to me is that aerospace (aka NASA) is so often spoken of as a pillar of the economy when it's job contribution is a fraction of other hard sciences...representing only 3% of the engineering jobs in town. In some respects it almost seems like "Space City" is hanging its hat on a by gone day. 

 

 

One thing to keep in mind is that Houston is the world leader in energy. That's a truly rare achievement. Very few cities are the world leader in any industry. Dallas has a growing banking and finance sector, but it's not the world leader. Austin has a booming tech sector but it's not the world leader. So where you see Houston being weak in other sectors you are glancing over the fact that Houston is the leader in a sector where most cities are just players in different sectors. Don't forget about cities that were former kings of an industry; Pittsburg, Detroit and how they would kill to still be a world leader in their respective sector today. Diversifying is important, however there's nothing wrong with trying to remain the leader in energy. 

 

I wouldn't support any policies that would cause Houston to lose its status as world leader in energy just to gain a larger market share in other industries that Houston will never be a leader in like, tech, finance or tourism. 

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5 minutes ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

One thing to keep in mind is that Houston is the world leader in energy. That's a truly rare achievement. Very few cities are the world leader in any industry. Dallas has a growing banking and finance sector, but it's not the world leader. Austin has a booming tech sector but it's not the world leader. So where you see Houston being weak in other sectors you are glancing over the fact that Houston is the leader in a sector where most cities are just players in different sectors. Don't forget about cities that were former kings of an industry; Pittsburg, Detroit and how they would kill to still be a world leader in their respective sector today. Diversifying is important, however there's nothing wrong with trying to remain the leader in energy. 

 

I wouldn't support any policies that would cause Houston to lose its status as world leader in energy just to gain a larger market share in other industries that Houston will never be a leader in like, tech, finance or tourism. 

I totally second this. If you look at any top-tier major global city, they usually have at least one industry cluster that is a world leader - finance in NYC, entertainment in LA, tech in SF - and the economics of those industries drive their city.  Houston is no different with energy.  Diversification is not bad, but if you look at typical diversified cities - Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Philly, etc - they're not usually considered top-tier global cities.

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Like I said...complacency. 

 

https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2018/01/19/op-ed-why-amazons-rejection-of-houston-for-its-hq2.html

 

Quote

 I have friends, family, clients and consultants from various parts of the state, country and globe, and one thing is consistent: They think Houston is a working-class, dirty oil town. ... By beauty, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense where everything is shiny, polished and planned. 

 

The point here isn't that the author goes on to say people are pleasantly surprised when they visit Houston, but that the fallacy exists in the first place and is only overcome when people actually believe it when they see it with their own eyes.

 

Quote

Let’s just do more of the same. Let’s continue to be the world leader in energy, health care and space exploration..... Let’s continue to be ourselves: The underdog.

 

Like clockwork....

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On 1/21/2018 at 9:42 AM, 102IAHexpress said:

 

One thing to keep in mind is that Houston is the world leader in energy. That's a truly rare achievement. Very few cities are the world leader in any industry. Dallas has a growing banking and finance sector, but it's not the world leader. Austin has a booming tech sector but it's not the world leader. So where you see Houston being weak in other sectors you are glancing over the fact that Houston is the leader in a sector where most cities are just players in different sectors. Don't forget about cities that were former kings of an industry; Pittsburg, Detroit and how they would kill to still be a world leader in their respective sector today. Diversifying is important, however there's nothing wrong with trying to remain the leader in energy. 

 

I wouldn't support any policies that would cause Houston to lose its status as world leader in energy just to gain a larger market share in other industries that Houston will never be a leader in like, tech, finance or tourism. 

 

I'm not sure I understand correlating policies that would encourage growth in new industries as leading to cannibalizing the prominence of the energy sector. Economic growth is not a zero-sum game, and in fact could have cross pollination effects that positively benefit unrelated industries.  

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I was a bit nonplussed about the claim of Dallas supposedly having better infrastructure and technical talent than Houston. Houston certainly is able to support HP and BMC. I get why Austin might appeal more to a company from Seattle, due to national perceptions of culture, livability, and then of course having Dell, but if Amazon were to pick Austin (which I think is a serious longshot), I don't think either party would be all that happy. As bad as Houston's city planning is, Austin's city leaders have always been provincial in mindset and the city's growth in the past 20+ years has outstripped its infrastructure, its ability to manage it, causing terrible traffic congestion, pricing the middle class out of home ownership anywhere with a reasonable commute into the city, overwhelming school districts and degrading the quality of education, and the whole cool laid back urban culture that Austin still touts as a reason to live there has been largely overrun and displaced.

 

I never expected Houston would get serious consideration, especially not after Harvey, and am rather glad for that. Houston, too, has grown too fast, out of control, since the 90s. All the boosters crying "come to Houston, our cost of living is so low" and "we need to bod on the Olympics, on the Superbowl, it'll show everyone how great we are and they'll want to move here" have been wildly irresponsible. Any Houston booster trying to woo outsiders by the droves to move to Houston is telling native and decades-long Houstonians "I don't care about you, your reward for your loyalty to this city is your property taxes are going to skyrocket, your commute is going to double in time, your risk of your house flooding is going to go way up."

 

Houston's median home price is $229,900, and Seattle's is $718,700. Homes that seem overpriced to Houstonians will look like a steal to anyone relocating from the Seattle area to set up HQ2. That would have bumped prices up even more than they already have gone up. That may sound great for you if you're wanting to sell your house, but remember, unless you're leaving the Houston area, you're going to be buying another house, and the Seattlite influx would have jacked up the cost of that house too. And all of us would be paying higher property taxes as well. That's what's so stupid about this national boosterism to try to get more people to live in Houston. Houston is ugly. It's hot and humid. It's floodprone. There is no real mass transit to speak of and traffic sucks. The main thing we have going for us as a city is our low cost of living, mostly related to cheap land and low taxes. But the more people you lure in, the more you cancel out those pluses. And the last thing Houston needs is more people on the road, more coastal prairie bulldozed and paved over to make more Cinco Ranches and Lakes of Eldridge. Texas as a whole, but especially Houston, needs to focus on making life better for the people already living here - property tax relief so a person's tax burden doesn't skyrocket even if his income hasn't just because his neighborhood has suddenly become desireable , better schools, better transportation, better climate resiliancy - before it works on luring in more people.

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7 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

I was a bit nonplussed about the claim of Dallas supposedly having better infrastructure and technical talent than Houston. Houston certainly is able to support HP and BMC. I get why Austin might appeal more to a company from Seattle, due to national perceptions of culture, livability, and then of course having Dell, but if Amazon were to pick Austin (which I think is a serious longshot), I don't think either party would be all that happy. As bad as Houston's city planning is, Austin's city leaders have always been provincial in mindset and the city's growth in the past 20+ years has outstripped its infrastructure, its ability to manage it, causing terrible traffic congestion, pricing the middle class out of home ownership anywhere with a reasonable commute into the city, overwhelming school districts and degrading the quality of education, and the whole cool laid back urban culture that Austin still touts as a reason to live there has been largely overrun and displaced.

 

I never expected Houston would get serious consideration, especially not after Harvey, and am rather glad for that. Houston, too, has grown too fast, out of control, since the 90s. All the boosters crying "come to Houston, our cost of living is so low" and "we need to bod on the Olympics, on the Superbowl, it'll show everyone how great we are and they'll want to move here" have been wildly irresponsible. Any Houston booster trying to woo outsiders by the droves to move to Houston is telling native and decades-long Houstonians "I don't care about you, your reward for your loyalty to this city is your property taxes are going to skyrocket, your commute is going to double in time, your risk of your house flooding is going to go way up."

 

Houston's median home price is $229,900, and Seattle's is $718,700. Homes that seem overpriced to Houstonians will look like a steal to anyone relocating from the Seattle area to set up HQ2. That would have bumped prices up even more than they already have gone up. That may sound great for you if you're wanting to sell your house, but remember, unless you're leaving the Houston area, you're going to be buying another house, and the Seattlite influx would have jacked up the cost of that house too. And all of us would be paying higher property taxes as well. That's what's so stupid about this national boosterism to try to get more people to live in Houston. Houston is ugly. It's hot and humid. It's floodprone. There is no real mass transit to speak of and traffic sucks. The main thing we have going for us as a city is our low cost of living, mostly related to cheap land and low taxes. But the more people you lure in, the more you cancel out those pluses. And the last thing Houston needs is more people on the road, more coastal prairie bulldozed and paved over to make more Cinco Ranches and Lakes of Eldridge. Texas as a whole, but especially Houston, needs to focus on making life better for the people already living here - property tax relief so a person's tax burden doesn't skyrocket even if his income hasn't just because his neighborhood has suddenly become desireable , better schools, better transportation, better climate resiliancy - before it works on luring in more people.

 

I think you raise some fair points, but you're missing the positive side of growth, described on my blog here: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2007/02/size-matters.html 

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On 1/19/2018 at 9:28 AM, H-Town Man said:

To me, having lived in both Dallas and Houston, it doesn't seem obvious at all why Dallas should be so much more attractive for corporate relocations. They even beat us out for the big prize in oil (Exxon), which is rather damning.

Wait, what? Do you even know the history of that? How long have you lived in Houston, were you even here in the 80s? Exxon moved to Dallas (Irving) in 1989. Such a decision to move is not done on the fly and had surely been in the works for a few years. Houston in the mid-late 80s was practically ghost town due to the oil price collapse in 1986. So many of my friends moved away because their dads were either relocated or laid off and moved elsewhere for work. No oil company - no company period - in their right mind would have relocated to Houston in the late 80s. It's really baffling that people get so bent out of shape that Exxon isn't headquartered here when most of the jobs, including many, many very high up and well-paying jobs (trust me, I know several of these people) are in the Woodlands. It's like getting to eat most of the sundae but crying that someone else got the cherry.

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20 minutes ago, ToryGattis said:

 

I think you raise some fair points, but you're missing the positive side of growth, described on my blog here: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/2007/02/size-matters.html 

 

Well, I work in the environmental field, and from that perspective, the positives of unrestrained economic growth never do make up for the negative environmental impacts. There would have to be a major sea change in the mindset of both governmental and private landuse planning, that having worked 20 years in that field, seeing the lack of response to the effects of growth we've seen in that time, I don't see that happening. They only do a slightly better job of making up for negative social impacts. Unrestrained economic growth increases income inequality and exacerbates the effects of it, especially IRT housing affordability.

Edited by Reefmonkey
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On ‎1‎/‎21‎/‎2018 at 9:52 AM, ToryGattis said:

I totally second this. If you look at any top-tier major global city, they usually have at least one industry cluster that is a world leader - finance in NYC, entertainment in LA, tech in SF - and the economics of those industries drive their city.  Houston is no different with energy.  Diversification is not bad, but if you look at typical diversified cities - Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Philly, etc - they're not usually considered top-tier global cities.

 

This cuts both ways. All those global cities you mentioned have an industry that is considered a world-leader, but they are usually not dependent on that industry the way we are on oil. I think to be a "global" city, you have to be multi-dimensional. Traditionally the consensus three "global" cities in the U.S. are New York, L.A., and Chicago. All three of those cities are leaders in industry. And all three of them could contend for just about any major headquarters you can think of. If you combined Houston's industrial side with Dallas's white collar side, you'd have a global city. But Houston and Dallas seem to each be specializing in their respective side of things, and that is keeping either of them from becoming an L.A. or Chicago. Probably our region of the country can only support one global city long-term, and that will be either Dallas or Houston. Right now we are looking more vulnerable because we are so dependent on one industry, whereas Dallas is establishing itself in a way that will allow it to survive the ups or downs of any one industry. I'd be really happy if anyone can show me what I'm missing here.

 

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2 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

 

Well, I work in the environmental field, and from that perspective, the positives of unrestrained economic growth never do make up for the negative environmental impacts. They only do a slightly better job of making up for negative social impacts. Unrestrained economic growth increases income inequality and exacerbates the effects of it, especially IRT housing affordability.

From that description, it sounds like your model city is something like Cleveland, Buffalo, or Detroit - low or no growth, lower income inequality, high housing affordability.  Or do you have examples of cities you think are following more ideal models/approaches?

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12 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

Wait, what? Do you even know the history of that? How long have you lived in Houston, were you even here in the 80s? Exxon moved to Dallas (Irving) in 1989. Such a decision to move is not done on the fly and had surely been in the works for a few years. Houston in the mid-late 80s was practically ghost town due to the oil price collapse in 1986. So many of my friends moved away because their dads were either relocated or laid off and moved elsewhere for work. No oil company - no company period - in their right mind would have relocated to Houston in the late 80s. It's really baffling that people get so bent out of shape that Exxon isn't headquartered here when most of the jobs, including many, many very high up and well-paying jobs (trust me, I know several of these people) are in the Woodlands. It's like getting to eat most of the sundae but crying that someone else got the cherry.

 

It's really baffling that you managed to see this post and not the long discussion which followed it and more or less resolved the issue. But fyi, Dallas went through a really bad period in the late 80's as well.

 

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1 minute ago, H-Town Man said:

 

This cuts both ways. All those global cities you mentioned have an industry that is considered a world-leader, but they are usually not dependent on that industry the way we are on oil. I think to be a "global" city, you have to be multi-dimensional. Traditionally the consensus three "global" cities in the U.S. are New York, L.A., and Chicago. All three of those cities are leaders in industry. And all three of them could contend for just about any major headquarters you can think of. If you combined Houston's industrial side with Dallas's white collar side, you'd have a global city. But Houston and Dallas seem to each be specializing in their respective side of things, and that is keeping either of them from becoming an L.A. or Chicago. Probably our region of the country can only support one global city long-term, and that will be either Dallas or Houston. Right now we are looking more vulnerable because we are so dependent on one industry, whereas Dallas is establishing itself in a way that will allow it to survive the ups or downs of any one industry. I'd be really happy if anyone can show me what I'm missing here.

 

 

But can you name any substantial companies that have relocated to either LA or NYC? (LA has almost no F500 HQs) Chicago has had some wins lately, but mostly executive HQ's for companies located in smaller towns in the Midwest (i.e. I feel like Chicago is the "winner" of the Midwest and consolidating HQs there into a regional capital, but they do seem more domestic in orientation rather than global, with the exception of Boeing). 

 

Houston has Dallas beat for global city, but you're right we're dependent on the energy industry for that, with stronger ups and downs than diversified Dallas.  I think Texas can support two global cities long-term, just as CA supports both LA and SF.  They have different niches.

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1 hour ago, Reefmonkey said:

Houston is ugly. It's hot and humid. It's floodprone. There is no real mass transit to speak of and traffic sucks. The main thing we have going for us as a city is our low cost of living, mostly related to cheap land and low taxes.

 

One thing I lose patience with is the defeatism of local people who say, "Houston is ugly." Much of how we have developed is ugly, but it didn't have to be. Of all the large cities in Texas we are naturally the greenest, with the best vegetation. The countryside around Houston is much prettier than the countryside around Dallas, which is much more beige most of the year and basically looks like Oklahoma. No one ever says "The Woodlands is ugly" or "the Memorial area is ugly" because they made themselves look good. No I'm not saying we master-plan everything, but we could do a much better job with what we have.

 

We've made a lot of progress doing things like landscaping our freeways and removing billboards, and I think as time goes by people will start to see the inner loop as pretty and the suburbs (especially inner ring) as generally ugly. But you still have to drive through those suburbs to get to the inner city. I drove into town from Austin on 290 yesterday and it looked bad, man. Baaaaaaad. I know there is freeway construction going on, but when Austin has freeway construction like on 183 right now, they do not make the whole area look like a bomb went off. Mow the grass and pick up the trash. For starters. And does the whole city have to look like the inside of an old telephone switching station with all the power lines everywhere?

Edited by H-Town Man
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3 minutes ago, ToryGattis said:

From that description, it sounds like your model city is something like Cleveland, Buffalo, or Detroit - low or no growth, lower income inequality, high housing affordability.  Or do you have examples of cities you think are following more ideal models/approaches?

 

Give me a break. Apples to oranges. There is a difference between cities that have low growth, low income inequality because everyone being poor, and cheap housing because everyone moved away, all due to a major industry cratering, versus a city already on a good growth trajectory trying to see how many more people they can cram into the telephone booth.

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5 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

 

Give me a break. Apples to oranges. There is a difference between cities that have low growth, low income inequality because everyone being poor, and cheap housing because everyone moved away, all due to a major industry cratering, versus a city already on a good growth trajectory trying to see how many more people they can cram into the telephone booth.

Still curious if you see any cities out there doing it right?

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13 minutes ago, ToryGattis said:

 

But can you name any substantial companies that have relocated to either LA or NYC? (LA has almost no F500 HQs) Chicago has had some wins lately, but mostly executive HQ's for companies located in smaller towns in the Midwest (i.e. I feel like Chicago is the "winner" of the Midwest and consolidating HQs there into a regional capital, but they do seem more domestic in orientation rather than global, with the exception of Boeing). 

 

Houston has Dallas beat for global city, but you're right we're dependent on the energy industry for that, with stronger ups and downs than diversified Dallas.  I think Texas can support two global cities long-term, just as CA supports both LA and SF.  They have different niches.

 

All that limits LA and NYC is really cost, which is the penalty of too much success. They are at a point where they are not trying to win big corporate relocations, but rather elite small offices for international companies. Not sure what you mean by Chicago being more domestic in orientation... take for example a firm like Optiver, headquartered in Amsterdam, which could open a U.S. office anywhere and picks Chicago for prestige of location.

 

Yeah, I have thought of Houston and Dallas following on an LA/SF route as being dual great cities, but it seems like Texas is going through a major boom era right now due to a combination of low regulation and cheap immigrant labor, and will come back down to earth at some point. 60 years ago the Midwest was in its heyday and Detroit might have thought they could rival Chicago (5th vs. 2nd largest cities in the U.S.), with Minneapolis, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland also huge cities, but eventually the region deflated and all that was left was Chicago, because it alone had made it into orbit as a global city. Everyone else sank.

Edited by H-Town Man

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7 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

One thing I lose patience with is the defeatism of local people who say, "Houston is ugly." Much of how we have developed is ugly, but it didn't have to be. Of all the large cities in Texas we are naturally the greenest, with the best vegetation. The countryside around Houston is much prettier than the countryside around Dallas, which is much more beige most of the year and basically looks like Oklahoma. No one ever says "The Woodlands is ugly" or "the Memorial area is ugly" because they made themselves look good. No I'm not saying we master-plan everything, but we could do a much better job with what we have. We've made a lot of progress doing things like landscaping our freeways and removing billboards, and I think as time goes by people will start to see the inner loop as pretty and the suburbs (especially inner ring) as generally ugly.

Having lived in both Houston and Dallas, and having the misfortune of spending a lot of time in Oklahoma, I don't disagree with you at all, the countryside around Houston is way prettier, way greener, much better vegetation, and your beige comment about Dallas is spot-on. Absolutely nobody says "the Woodlands is ugly" or "Memorial is ugly". Some cities are pretty, but are still going to have pockets of ugly. Some cities are ugly with pockets of pretty. Houston tends to be the latter. Our countryside may be pretty, but our cityscape is pretty ugly, by and large. Look, I'm in the environmental field, making our surroundings healthier and more attractive is kind of my thing, and that always starts with acknowledging there is a problem. That's not defeatism. I'm not even saying Dallas' cityscape is substantially less ugly than Houston's. But to scouts for a corporation looking to relocate, or IOC scouts considering us for the summer olympics*, the strip of head shops and strip clubs along I-45 between IAH and downtown don't paint a pretty picture.

 

 

 

*not that I would ever, ever want any city I liked to have the misfortune of hosting the olympics, but boy did Lee Brown want that for his legacy.

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6 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

All that limits LA and NYC is really cost, which is the penalty of too much success. They are at a point where they are not trying to win big corporate relocations, but have elite small offices for international companies. Not sure what you mean by Chicago being more domestic in orientation... take for example a firm like Optiver, headquartered in Amsterdam, which could open a U.S. office anywhere and picks Chicago for prestige of location.

 

Yeah, I have thought of Houston and Dallas following on an LA/SF route as being dual great cities, but it seems like Texas is going through a major boom era right now due to a combination of low regulation and cheap immigrant labor, and will come back down to earth at some point. 60 years ago the Midwest was in its heyday and Detroit might have thought they could rival Chicago (5th largest city in the U.S.), with Minneapolis, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cleveland also huge cities, but eventually the region deflated and all that was left was Chicago, because it alone had made it into orbit as a global city. Everyone else sank.

 

I feel like Chicago's set of big companies is more domestically oriented than Houston's, but I might be wrong about that.  Chicago has probably the best global aviation hub in the country because of geography - more Asian connections than the east coast, more European connections than the west coast, and total domestic coverage (better than either coast).  That really gives it an edge despite massive financial problems, horrible winters, crime, population loss, high taxes, corruption, and dysfunctional state government.  There is a bubble at the core of Chicago that is doing quite well despite all the drags around it.  We'll see how long they can keep it up.

 

Texas has a pretty strong position in the American economy right now, and I'm not sure that will shift soon the way it did for the Midwest.  I'm not saying we don't have challenges, but I feel like ours are more manageable than those in much of the country.

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4 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

Having lived in both Houston and Dallas, and having the misfortune of spending a lot of time in Oklahoma, I don't disagree with you at all, the countryside around Houston is way prettier, way greener, much better vegetation, and your beige comment about Dallas is spot-on. Absolutely nobody says "the Woodlands is ugly" or "Memorial is ugly". Some cities are pretty, but are still going to have pockets of ugly. Some cities are ugly with pockets of pretty. Houston tends to be the latter. Our countryside may be pretty, but our cityscape is pretty ugly, by and large. Look, I'm in the environmental field, making our surroundings healthier and more attractive is kind of my thing, and that always starts with acknowledging there is a problem. That's not defeatism. I'm not even saying Dallas' cityscape is substantially less ugly than Houston's. But to scouts for a corporation looking to relocate, or IOC scouts considering us for the summer olympics*, the strip of head shops and strip clubs along I-45 between IAH and downtown don't paint a pretty picture.

 

 

 

*not that I would ever, ever want any city I liked to have the misfortune of hosting the olympics, but boy did Lee Brown want that for his legacy.

 

I think we are in agreement. My point was not that we aren't ugly, but rather that we aren't intrinsically ugly. The Woodlands and Memorial prove that we could be beautiful (I've been told that I-10 through Memorial used to be forested the way I-45 is between The Woodlands and Conroe, but of course it was all cut down). But like you said, other cities are pretty with pockets of ugly, but we are ugly with pockets are pretty. Although the inner loop is slowly coalescing as a pocket of pretty.

 

Edited by H-Town Man
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18 minutes ago, ToryGattis said:

Still curious if you see any cities out there doing it right?

Minneapolis-St Paul for one.

Median home price: $242,000 (vs Houston $230,000)

Median income $66,282 (vs Houston $42,877)

Unemployment 3.0% (vs Houston 4.1%)

Environmentally and in terms of sustainability better off than Houston.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

Minneapolis-St Paul for one.

Median home price: $242,000 (vs Houston $230,000)

Median income $66,282 (vs Houston $42,877)

Unemployment 3.0% (vs Houston 4.1%)

Environmentally and in terms of sustainability better off than Houston.

 

 

 

This is a government/white collar city comparable to Austin. If we tried to regulate aesthetics the way they do the oil industry would be gone in a day and we would be Detroit. Not saying we have nothing to learn from them but it's not a realistic model.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

Minneapolis-St Paul for one.

Median home price: $242,000 (vs Houston $230,000)

Median income $66,282 (vs Houston $42,877)

Unemployment 3.0% (vs Houston 4.1%)

Environmentally and in terms of sustainability better off than Houston.

 

 

 

Good one. I see the appeal of their model. From an Opportunity Urbanism perspective, I'd guess they're very appealing for college-educated whites (except for the winters!), but I doubt there's as much opportunity there for immigrants, minorities, or people with less education.  I think we're more vibrant in industries that employ more of those people - home building, restaurants, industrial/mfg, port trade.  I could be wrong, but that's my impression.

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14 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I think we are in agreement. My point was not that we aren't ugly, but rather that we aren't intrinsically ugly. The Woodlands and Memorial prove that we could be beautiful (I've been told that I-10 through Memorial used to be forested the way I-45 is between The Woodlands and Conroe, but of course it was all cut down). But like you said, other cities are pretty with pockets of ugly, but we are ugly with pockets are pretty. Although the inner loop is slowly coalescing as a pocket of pretty.

 

Yes, sounds like we are. Houston is definitely not intrinsically ugly, and in many ways is getting better, but without really urban planning it's always a push-pull between the scrupulous and unscrupulous developers.

 

By the way, I finished reading "Pleasant Bend" about the history of the area along Buffalo Bayou between 610 and Highway 6, great source of information, if a little tedious a read at times. It and other stuff I've read led me to believe that  before the 50s the stretch of land I-10 now passes through was mostly prairie and later rice fields.

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4 minutes ago, ToryGattis said:

 

Good one. I see the appeal of their model. From an Opportunity Urbanism perspective, I'd guess they're very appealing for college-educated whites (except for the winters!), but I doubt there's as much opportunity there for immigrants, minorities, or people with less education.  I think we're more vibrant in industries that employ more of those people - home building, restaurants, industrial/mfg, port trade.  I could be wrong, but that's my impression.

That's fair, you and H-town Man are right about the differences, and I'm not against growth, I just think when it's already 65 you don't need to revv it up to 90 mph, and the boosters benefit quite a bit more from and are less effected by the downsides of growth than the average Houstonian. I think that Harvey and the poor city planning and uncontrolled growth that exacerbated its effects should be a wakeup call to put the brakes on growth for a minute, reassess, and Amazon HQ2 would not have been good for that.

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This might be slightly off topic, but why doesn't the city invest the 200+ million of reported incentives in other tech start ups? It's obviously a bigger gamble than HQ2, but if the city and its business leaders are serious about the "innovation corridor," now seems as good as any to literally put your money where your mouth is.

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25 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

By the way, I finished reading "Pleasant Bend" about the history of the area along Buffalo Bayou between 610 and Highway 6, great source of information, if a little tedious a read at times. It and other stuff I've read led me to believe that  before the 50s the stretch of land I-10 now passes through was mostly prairie and later rice fields.

 

Looking at historicaerials.com, it seems like it was all forest out to Voss Road, then kind of a mixed pattern out to Kirkwood. This was in the mid-60's.

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Good article in Bisnow from today: https://www.bisnow.com/houston/news/economy/where-houstons-hq2-pitch-fell-short-83950

 

Quote

Greater Houston Partnership CEO Bob Harvey called Amazon's Houston snub a "wake-up call" for the city. "I think that's an accurate statement," Midway Executive Vice President David Hightower said. Midway has been working with the Greater Houston Partnership to bring the e-commerce giant to its East River site near Downtown. "Houston needs to up its game." 

 

Quote

Between an abundance of literal and figurative parking lots, lack of rail and flooding concerns, Houston's infrastructure was likely a major sticking point for Amazon.  "Amazon doesn't want to build [in] a place with 50,000 parking spots in it," said Adam Ozimek, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics. "That, possibly more than anything else, is going to rule out Houston." Egan pointed out that transportation is so bad in Houston, Turner won the last mayoral election with a campaign centered around fixing potholes. "We have terrible roads and almost no public transportation," Egan said. 

 

City of Houston Controller Chris Brown told the Houston Business Journal Houston's lack of a robust rail network, particularly one that connects to an airport, may have been one of the city's shortfalls. Egan agreed, saying Houston's lack of rail connections to the airport likely played a particularly large role. 

 

Reinforces the opinion that rail is what makes a difference in commercial real estate investment. Bus systems, though they serve a more diffuse service area, are easily removed and don't provide an assurance that might compel a firm to invest in putting down roots. 

 

Quote

"The schools [in Houston] are really small," Egan told Houston Matters. "What we really need is something like a UT Houston, a big cornerstone state school to drive our profile." Houston was close to boosting its educational footprint before the University of Texas system walked away from plans that had been in the works for years. UT spent $215M acquiring over 350 acres just south of Loop 610 near NRG Stadium, but when the University of Houston called foul over the competition, UT scrapped the project, which was later revealed to be a technology-focused data science campus.

 

Quote

As the number one destination for STEM talent according to the GHP, Houston's labor force is chock full of advanced degrees, but its relatively small number of computing and software-focused workers likely hurt the city's chances. Amazon is notorious for its high turnover rate, so Houston’s lack of rival tech employers would subdue employment opportunities. Beyond that, Houston's culture may have turned off Amazon. The world's leading oil and gas hub has produced a different work dynamic than what Amazon is used to in the high-growth Seattle tech scene where co-working and hoodies abound.  "Houston has faced challenges because of our industry mix, we're not very engaged in startup ecosystems," Egan said. 

 

I concur with this assessment. There might be a lot of STEM workers in town, but they aren't the labor force that would be usable by a tech company. Ironically lack of competition for Amazon in the Houston workforce is probably more of a turn off than a benefit. That's, in part, why I think they'll end up in Dallas, which has a lot higher coefficient of STEM workers in the tech space. 

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8 minutes ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Looking at historicaerials.com, it seems like it was all forest out to Voss Road, then kind of a mixed pattern out to Kirkwood. This was in the mid-60's.

Yeah, that makes sense, we know of Piney Point as the name of a couple of streets and one of the Memorial Villages, but the name for that area has a history going back to Austin's Old 300 passing through there in pre-independence times, for being a landmark of sorts for settlers passing through, the last big forested area before the trees tapered out on the prairie.

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7 minutes ago, HOUTEX said:
 
Quote

"City of Houston Controller Chris Brown told the Houston Business Journal Houston's lack of a robust rail network, particularly one that connects to an airport, may have been one of the city's shortfalls. Egan agreed, saying Houston's lack of rail connections to the airport likely played a particularly large role. "

7 minutes ago, HOUTEX said:

Reinforces the opinion that rail is what makes a difference in commercial real estate investment. Bus systems, though they serve a more diffuse service area, are easily removed and don't provide an assurance that might compel a firm to invest in putting down roots. 

 

 

 

I'm calling BS on this.  Half of the finalists they picked don't have rail to the airport!  We once had fast express bus service from downtown to IAH and it attracted less than 2 riders per bus - how could we support (slower!) rail on that route!?  DART's airport service has pathetic ridership.  This is classic: everybody who has a pet issue in Houston is coming out to claim it's the reason Amazon didn't put us on the short list. Don't believe it.

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Well it was said early on that Amazon likely wouldn't want to build or own 50,000 parking spaces in garages. That's not their financial model in Seattle and would be a drain on their resources. Moreover public transit (with emphasis on rail) was a central tenant of the RPP, as was connectivity and transit time to airports. There was no explicit sentence that said you have to have rail to airports, but the area where Amazon's Seattle campus is located has rail access to SeaTac Int'l Airport, so it's not an illogical assumption that would help "check a box."

 

But that's not what I was saying - my point was that fixed rail lines (street car, light rail, etc.) provide CRE investors / developers more security that mass transit will be accessible at their site than a rubber tire trolley or bus route. I've never heard anyone of authority say otherwise. Now the pros/cons of such a system are contingent on how it's implemented, what the route is, etc. 

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5 hours ago, Reefmonkey said:

Minneapolis-St Paul for one.

Median home price: $242,000 (vs Houston $230,000)

Median income $66,282 (vs Houston $42,877)

Unemployment 3.0% (vs Houston 4.1%)

Environmentally and in terms of sustainability better off than Houston.

 

 

 

Some coincidental timing from the WSJ!  Sounds like they would like to be growing more like Houston is than how they are currently...

Forget the Midwest. Minnesota Casts Itself as the North

It won’t help the Vikings but to solve its population problem, the state is branding itself as ‘the North’;  ‘Sick of being this afterthought in this afterthought called the Midwest’

...Convincing people to move to Minnesota is “the most important work we can do in terms of growing our economy and staying competitive for the future,” said Michael Langley, chief executive of the regional economic development group Greater MSP and an executive board member of the Super Bowl host committee.

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