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North Canal Project


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Judging by the railroad bridge in the rendering, I wonder if they've given up on the idea of relocating the railroad tracks?  Though that was probably going to be done in conjunction with the IH-45 project, and if that is being delayed indefinitely, we may never get the relocated railroad tracks.

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Piggybacking off of @editor they have a blueprint in town: go through bray bayou just past UH and mimic what it looks like before the city trims the sunflowers/folliage. Its managed chaos, its beautiful, and peaceful. Its immediate mental relaxation. I kind of agree with editor, put in some of the natural bayou/gulf coast prairie-type greenery in first, and build around that like in that last Seoul picture. We don't need the social stairs yet, just a great path and organic places to chill, some great natural plants, and then add to it as it gets busy. 

Grateful for the vision, and that this may happen, but there are potentially better ways to do this.

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6 hours ago, editor said:

That looks... boring.  A number of cities have rehabbed the streams running through their city centers in recent years.  Houston can do better than this.

Here's Seoul's recently rehabbed urban canal:

Cheonggyecheon-Stream-Seoul.jpg

chongae3final21-1440x768.jpg

PicsArt_1398222328413.jpg

 

Kyoto:

5cacf2149b2b644d760e12da883a9148.jpg

Chicago:

City-Winterys-Riverwalk-River-Domes-Phot

Tumbleweed is right. This isn't meant to be something on the level of what you are proposing. The first and foremost point of this project is flood prevention and water diversion. Everything else is secondary. This canal isn't even that long; hardly worth that much effort.

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9 hours ago, Tumbleweed_Tx said:

we don't need any of that, we just need a ditch to divert some water to try to keep it out of some of the downtown area.

Yes, actually, we do need it. Parks improve our quality of life and this city is desperate for some nice places. BBP functions as both so why would this just be a ditch?

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55 minutes ago, Montrose1100 said:

Yes, actually, we do need it. Parks improve our quality of life and this city is desperate for some nice places. BBP functions as both so why would this just be a ditch?

Who wants to go to a park surrounded by warehouses, freeways, and prisons?

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1 hour ago, Big E said:

Who wants to go to a park surrounded by warehouses, freeways, and prisons?

Buffalo Bayou Park is a 10 min walk from here, the east river project would be a 15 min walk. I didn't think anyone would question a park location......thats in downtown? There's numerous residential buildings, a big university, POST, multiple restaurants nearby.  The warehouses are temporary, we've seen a lot being repurposed lately, especially in the area. Freeways?? Memorial park, Buffalo Bayou Park, Discovery green... aren't most parks off a freeway? If anything, I feel like this could be Houston's next big park. 

 

The prison is a valid point BUT its not like they have play time and can go outside 😂 

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1 hour ago, Big E said:

Who wants to go to a park surrounded by warehouses, freeways, and prisons?

If you've ever got off the MKT/White Oak trail into Downtown count me in the people who want to go to a park surrounded by warehouses, freeways, and jails. Anyone wishing to connect from the west to east side, be it bike, hike, picnic, whatever, the North Canal will be a seamless transition.

Why wouldn't we make this connecting park land. It's a waste of space otherwise. Forget about me, I'm sure the residential population within a few blocks of this would like to use it. They already chose to live next to it ;)

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12 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

I thought you were in favor of the conceptual cap park above 45/59? How's that any different?

Its A LOT different! Lets start with the fact that its in the middle of a freaking neighborhood first, and not no man's land.

12 hours ago, Montrose1100 said:

Why wouldn't we make this connecting park land. It's a waste of space otherwise.

It wouldn't be a waste of space; it be a flood diversion canal, which is its actual main purpose. Any other use is purely secondary.

13 hours ago, Amlaham said:

Memorial park, Buffalo Bayou Park, Discovery green... aren't most parks off a freeway?

There's a difference between being off a freeway, and literally being surrounded by freeways and nothing else.

 

13 hours ago, Amlaham said:

The warehouses are temporary, we've seen a lot being repurposed lately, especially in the area.

Maybe so, but as of now, its basically an industrial area. And the only major change in store for this area is the rerouting of freeways for the NHHIP. Not exactly going to be a boon for local development while construction is ongoing, though moving the freeway north away from the canal should have a positive effect on the area.

 

13 hours ago, Amlaham said:

The prison is a valid point BUT its not like they have play time and can go outside

True, but how many people want to go to a park literally right next door to a prison complex? If the Prisons, courts, sheriff's office, and prisoner intake were moved to a different location and that area of bayou frontage redeveloped, it could be a nice area. As of now, it just doesn't have that much going for it. 

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5 hours ago, Big E said:

Its A LOT different! Lets start with the fact that its in the middle of a freaking neighborhood first, and not no man's land.

It wouldn't be a waste of space; it be a flood diversion canal, which is its actual main purpose. Any other use is purely secondary.

There's a difference between being off a freeway, and literally being surrounded by freeways and nothing else.

 

Maybe so, but as of now, its basically an industrial area. And the only major change in store for this area is the rerouting of freeways for the NHHIP. Not exactly going to be a boon for local development while construction is ongoing, though moving the freeway north away from the canal should have a positive effect on the area.

 

True, but how many people want to go to a park literally right next door to a prison complex? If the Prisons, courts, sheriff's office, and prisoner intake were moved to a different location and that area of bayou frontage redeveloped, it could be a nice area. As of now, it just doesn't have that much going for it. 

The existing trail, which is essentially just a strip between the prisons and the metro yard, is already heavily used. I gather a similar connection with the addition of even modest green space would have comparable, if not even greater, appeal. If the rendering is accurate to the final plan, it would also create a separation from the freight rail line that goes between the prison complex and UH-D at grade currently. The crossing is regularly blocked, so there's another benefit. 

As for the EaDo Cap park, in the I-45 thread a poster whose comments you liked often claimed that the west side of St E is worth losing because, aside from a handful of businesses, it's primarily warehouses and surface lots. How is that area a vibrant neighborhood in this thread but primarily surface lots and warehouses in the other? 

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1 hour ago, JClark54 said:

As for the EaDo Cap park, in the I-45 thread a poster whose comments you liked often claimed that the west side of St E is worth losing because, aside from a handful of businesses, it's primarily warehouses and surface lots. How is that area a vibrant neighborhood in this thread but primarily surface lots and warehouses in the other? 

While the area west of Emmanuel is mostly warehouses and surface lots, East Downtown itself is undergoing redevelopment and gentrification and is far more along with that process than this area north of Buffalo Bayou is. Also, right on the other side of the cap park is downtown itself, and part of the purpose of the cap park is to stitch downtown and East Downtown back together, and it will be the centerpiece of the Sports and Convention District.

5 hours ago, j_cuevas713 said:

No man’s land? It’s north downtown. And the Warehouse District is right there. Not to mention all the development happening in that area. 

That area north of Buffalo Bayou is entirely industrial on one side, then a bunch of prison facilities and the Sheriff's department on the other, with a massive bus depot in the middle. Its separated from Near Northside by 1-10, and that separation isn't going away when they reroute the freeway and will only get worse when 1-45 is routed along the same path. Immediately to the south of Buffalo Bayou is Harris County's courts and administration buildings which kill any street life or redevelopment potential of the area just by virtue of existing. Its one saving grace is that Main Street/Market Square isn't that far away to the north, but the area on the other side of this complex is a sea of parking lots. That's what I mean by no man's land. Its literally in a part of downtown that nobody will frequent, either visitors or residents.

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8 hours ago, Big E said:

It wouldn't be a waste of space; it be a flood diversion canal, which is its actual main purpose. Any other use is purely secondary.

I'm not sure if you're aware of what's going on in this town relative to all of our drainage ditches? Perhaps not so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. The Freeway comment is silly. There's already a large portion of the White Oak Bayou Greenway either adjacent to a freeway or underneath. Same with the Sabine Promenade, and essentially all of BBP through to the Theater District. Even then it's under the web of street bridges to the courthouses.

If the City of Houston thought no one would use this why would they even entertain the idea? Just say you personally won't visit it and move on.

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I don't really understand what the fuss is about. If you go to the website the renders were produced by SWA Group which is one of the best planning groups / landscape architecture firms in Houston. They have done many projects large and small. By the way, they are the ones behind all the conceptual renders for NHHIP (including the highway caps). This render looks pretty schematic to me. With that being said I'm fine with the way its being conceptualized right now. Keep it simple. As some have said the primary reason for this project existing is completely utilitarian. Some of these other examples from other cities are waterways which have existed for years and are in prime downtown locations. This is being built from scratch and probably with a very limited budget. I would warn people to keep their expectations low. Just getting this built in the timeframe presented would be amazing. If this is has a design timeframe of 24 months then this is going to change quit a bit, and a lot can change with this being in conjunction with other large plans around it. If we get more than what is initially conceptualized here then count that as a plus.

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8 hours ago, Luminare said:

I don't really understand what the fuss is about. If you go to the website the renders were produced by SWA Group which is one of the best planning groups / landscape architecture firms in Houston. They have done many projects large and small. By the way, they are the ones behind all the conceptual renders for NHHIP (including the highway caps). This render looks pretty schematic to me. With that being said I'm fine with the way its being conceptualized right now. Keep it simple. As some have said the primary reason for this project existing is completely utilitarian. Some of these other examples from other cities are waterways which have existed for years and are in prime downtown locations. This is being built from scratch and probably with a very limited budget. I would warn people to keep their expectations low. Just getting this built in the timeframe presented would be amazing. If this is has a design timeframe of 24 months then this is going to change quit a bit, and a lot can change with this being in conjunction with other large plans around it. If we get more than what is initially conceptualized here then count that as a plus.

That's what I'm saying! I don't know why people are expecting this grand park design for what is basically a large drainage ditch! Its a canal first and foremost people. The design looks like a real basic one, like an early rough draft of what they want. It will probably be better designed when they actually build it, but to expect this to be something on par with like the Riverwalk in San Antonio or Chicago riverfront is insane. We should be happy they are willing to gussy it up at all.

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On 4/5/2022 at 10:59 AM, Big E said:

Who wants to go to a park surrounded by warehouses, freeways, and prisons?

Technically, those are jails, not prisons.

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The design (while clearly preliminary) is.... ... ... ...good? 

Like you want to look like those other cities you'll have to have some people build around them. As for Kyoto, I mean, I guess it's nice that we're comparing ourselves to Kyoto, real arriviste hours here! 

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15 hours ago, Big E said:

That's what I'm saying! I don't know why people are expecting this grand park design for what is basically a large drainage ditch! Its a canal first and foremost people. The design looks like a real basic one, like an early rough draft of what they want. It will probably be better designed when they actually build it, but to expect this to be something on par with like the Riverwalk in San Antonio or Chicago riverfront is insane. We should be happy they are willing to gussy it up at all.

To be as fair and balanced as possible, while I agree to an extent, we should also not be so utilitarian to simply call this a "large drainage ditch". The other side has a point as well. Houston is continuing in an upward trajectory to being a world class city. Its still far away from that goal. With that comes expectations that when under going a significant project such as this the city shouldn't just do the bare minimum. I for one have been very underwhelmed by latest efforts at Brays Bayou. I guess thats a regression to the mean even if that means the mean (or the average) has trended upward with time, but you would think after the success of Buffalo Bayou they would seek that same approach with Brays Bayou. Instead they went very very utilitarian, and are only doing standard bridge replacement (greatly needed, and thankful that they are doing so. Credit where credit is due.), but they could have done a lot more considering all the redevelopment that has happened near TMC.

Again @Big E I agree with you, and with projects like these I typically lean more utilitarian, but the other side does have a point, and if the city holds public comments regarding amenities, then these are people that should give input to take this project from just utilitarian to something special.

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On 4/5/2022 at 12:11 AM, Tumbleweed_Tx said:

we don't need any of that, we just need a ditch to divert some water to try to keep it out of some of the downtown area.

What, do we not deserve anything nice in this city? We can’t seek to improve our quality of life because of a few cheapskates…

Just build a ditch? …it’s backwards thinking like this that pisses me off. No one is asking for the damn San Antonio Riverwalk to be constructed here. But this gives us the opportunity to construct something that can not only alleviate flooding, but improve trails and the neighborhood …the Urban Genesis Warehouse District project going up just north of here. A landing along Wood St along the lines of the Chicago Riverwalk could both increase flood capacity and add a nice trail as an amenity. These two project could pair well together  …except for shortsighted people with no vision like yourself. 

If you want this city to be respected like a world class city, start thinking and acting like it.

Edited by tigereye
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Water features lead to higher demand for nearby property, leading to higher property tax revenues. It would be foolish for the city to not place amenities here.

Brays is different because the area around it is already high-income and politically influential, and they most certainly do not want any inducement for higher density development.

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I provide this link once again so that anyone not familiar with the master plan its all there. This is the 2002 master plan which I don't think they have changed much if any.

https://issuu.com/buffalobayou/docs/bbpmasterplan2002

If you go to page 36 you can see a rendering of what they propose. This would be a very nice addition to what would become an island and even though the county has several incarceration facilities on the north side of the bayou the area between them and the south side of the Northern canal would be prime property for development. It would leave a lot of space for growth and improvements. Housing, retail, and mixed use projects would fill those remaining spaces on both sides of the canal. The Genesis project is just the beginning of that areas regentrification.

It would not be the San Antonio riverwalk, but it would provide some opportunities for restaurants, clubs and all sorts of recreational opportunities along b both sides of a controlled canal.

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On 4/5/2022 at 12:11 AM, Tumbleweed_Tx said:

we don't need any of that, we just need a ditch to divert some water to try to keep it out of some of the downtown area.

I'll start printing the Keep Houston Ugly bumper stickers.  How many should I put you down for?

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1 minute ago, editor said:

I'll start printing the Keep Houston Ugly bumper stickers.  How many should I put you down for?

Not sure how a canal could make an area filled with jails and warehouses uglier...

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On 4/6/2022 at 1:25 AM, Big E said:

Its A LOT different! Lets start with the fact that its in the middle of a freaking neighborhood first, and not no man's land.

It's not "no man's land." There's a bunch of people who live in that district. I lived there for the years. Even back then, there were we're at least a dozen residential buildings. There's probably double that's now. Plus all of the adjacent residential buildings. 
 

This is an opportunity that the city only gets once. Let's not screw it's up. 

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2 minutes ago, editor said:

It's not "no man's land." There's a bunch of people who live in that district. I lived there for the years. Even back then, there were we're at least a dozen residential buildings. There's probably double that's now. Plus all of the adjacent residential buildings. 
 

This is an opportunity that the city only gets once. Let's not screw it's up. 

Where exactly did you live? Next to the bus depot at Dakota Lofts or William Street Lofts? One of the few homes near Rothwell? Or maybe you lived in Near Northside, which actually stops at the rail tracks on the other side of the freeway? Or maybe you lived in downtown on the other side of the bayou?

Only the houses on Rothwell and the Lofts are actually located in the Warehouse District, and a few old houses and some industrial buildings-turned-lofts don't make it a thriving neighborhood. There appears to be one apartment complex currently under construction, on McKee St., on the far other end of the neighborhood.

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2 hours ago, Big E said:

Where exactly did you live? Next to the bus depot at Dakota Lofts or William Street Lofts? One of the few homes near Rothwell? Or maybe you lived in Near Northside, which actually stops at the rail tracks on the other side of the freeway? Or maybe you lived in downtown on the other side of the bayou?

Only the houses on Rothwell and the Lofts are actually located in the Warehouse District, and a few old houses and some industrial buildings-turned-lofts don't make it a thriving neighborhood. There appears to be one apartment complex currently under construction, on McKee St., on the far other end of the neighborhood.

The reason you don't think it's a neighborhood is because you didn't live there, and don't know anything about it.  I did live there.  At Dakota.  The building across the street was also residential, as were several others.  There's even newish residential buildings I saw when I drove through there a few weeks ago. 

Yes, industrial buildings-turned-lofts do make a thriving neighborhood.  This has been proven in a hundred cities all over the world, including here in Houston.  In addition to the probably hundred people who live there, there's a little corner store, at least two restaurants, a concert venue, a barber shop. a tattoo parlor, and several artists galleries.  It's more of a thriving neighborhood than most of the monocullture Houston suburbs.

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3 hours ago, editor said:

At Dakota.  The building across the street was also residential, as were several others.

Okay, you live in Dakota. The building across the street is the William Street Lofts. Got it. That's, what, two buildings? A few other warehouses appear to have been converted into studios for various uses: Sanman Studios, Studio 713 recording studios, Mother Dog Studios, Hardy and Nance Studios. Some small art galleries. Most others are either abandoned and completely boarded up, or in industrial usage. Ultimately not a lot of residential uses, but the type of post-industrial uses you expect of former warehouses.

 

3 hours ago, editor said:

There's even newish residential buildings I saw when I drove through there a few weeks ago.

I already mentioned that they were building what looked like a new apartment building on the far eastern side of the neighborhood. That seems to be the only real major development.

3 hours ago, editor said:

Yes, industrial buildings-turned-lofts do make a thriving neighborhood.

Yes, they can, but I don't see this neighborhood as being quite there yet. It not like the Warehouse District in New Orleans. It will probably never be there considering its size and the hard physical borders (the freeways, the bayou, the jails...). 

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16 hours ago, Big E said:

Okay, you live in Dakota. The building across the street is the William Street Lofts. Got it. That's, what, two buildings? A few other warehouses appear to have been converted into studios for various uses: Sanman Studios, Studio 713 recording studios, Mother Dog Studios, Hardy and Nance Studios. Some small art galleries. Most others are either abandoned and completely boarded up, or in industrial usage. Ultimately not a lot of residential uses, but the type of post-industrial uses you expect of former warehouses.

 

I already mentioned that they were building what looked like a new apartment building on the far eastern side of the neighborhood. That seems to be the only real major development.

Yes, they can, but I don't see this neighborhood as being quite there yet. It not like the Warehouse District in New Orleans. It will probably never be there considering its size and the hard physical borders (the freeways, the bayou, the jails...). 

Please read more carefully.  I do not live in Dakota. I lived there at one time.

There are more than two residential buildings in that area.  Perhaps your only knowledge of it is only from Google Maps?  Take a walk through some day.

For some reason you focused on the art studios and lofts, but dismissed the other businesses: the bodega, the restaurants, the concert venue.  Was this simply because it doesn't bolster your "no man's land" argument?  You know, it's OK to admit you're wrong. 

As for no major development, I guess you missed the HAIF thread about the project turning Houston Studios into 100 apartments.

I don't know anything about the Warehouse District in New Orleans, so I can't say if you're right or wrong.  Moreover, I can't say that the New Orleans Warehouse District is something that Houston should aspire to emulate.  So without any elaboration on your part, it's irrelevant.

I do have experience with warehouse districts in several other cities.  Yes, Houston's is small and bounded by geography and infrastructure.  That's not news to anyone; it's just part of the history of how the city developed. I still posit that it was a good neighborhood when I lived there, and it seems to have gotten better since then. 

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4 hours ago, editor said:

For some reason you focused on the art studios and lofts, but dismissed the other businesses: the bodega, the restaurants, the concert venue.  Was this simply because it doesn't bolster your "no man's land" argument?  You know, it's OK to admit you're wrong. 

I was merely pointing out what was there. I wasn't wrong; most of what's there is various studios and art galleries, and some converted lofts. Do you disagree with that? There are may be one or two restaurants, a bodega, other small businesses. I didn't say those things weren't there, just that most of the old industrial facilities had been converted into art spaces and lofts, others were abandoned or still being used for their original industrial usage. Do you disagree with that statement?

 

4 hours ago, editor said:

There are more than two residential buildings in that area.

I had already pointed out there was some houses in the area. There maybe more, but it isn't an amazingly large number.

4 hours ago, editor said:

Please read more carefully.  I do not live in Dakota. I lived there at one time.

I meant to type "Okay you lived in Dakota". Its hardly relevant. The point is, you've established that you lived in the neighborhood at some point, which was the important thing to establish. Whether you live there now, or live there twenty years ago is hardly relevant here. The point is, you lived there.

 

5 hours ago, editor said:

I don't know anything about the Warehouse District in New Orleans, so I can't say if you're right or wrong.  Moreover, I can't say that the New Orleans Warehouse District is something that Houston should aspire to emulate.  So without any elaboration on your part, it's irrelevant.

The New Orleans Warehouse District is the most famous such district in the country. Its basically what every other Warehouse District aspires to be. Its where the National WWII Museum is located. Lots of hotels, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, converted lofts, art galleries, museums, and even the farmer's market. The convention center is right along the riverfront in front of it, so a lot of convention traffic passes through it. Its what Houston's Warehouse District wants to be, but doesn't really hold a candle to it.

 

5 hours ago, editor said:

I still posit that it was a good neighborhood when I lived there, and it seems to have gotten better since then.

I don't doubt any of that. Is it poppin off like Downtown or East Downtown though? Since this started up by someone bringing up the NHHIP freeway cap in comparison to this project, I think it only fair to answer that question honestly. Which one will actually have a greater impact? Which neighborhoods will see more growth, realistically? Which one will be more utilized? The Canal will have a greater effect on the city as whole for flood relief purposes, but for recreational purposes, which will actually have a larger net positive effect? That's not to say the Warehouse District is completely run down or good for nothing. If I thought that, I would say that they should turn the canal into a lake and dredge that entire area. I'm just saying this won't have the amazing effect some think it will. The surrounding area isn't the best, and everything else of note is on the other side of downtown from it, with the exception of the Main Street historic district, which is still blocks away. The presence of the jails and court complex will limit its impact, as will the abandoned warehouses and other abandoned buildings. The Abandoned buildings will be dealt with in time, the jails and courthouses are here to stay for the foreseeable future. So we should keep our expectations realistic about what this will look like and what it will be expected to achieve. I just want you to see things from where I'm coming from.

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I happened to be heading out east on I-10 recently, and swung through the area.  It wasn't a thorough canvas, but I counted five existing apartment/condo buildings, and one under construction.

So my estimate of about a hundred residents was wrong.  It's probably closer to 250 people who disagree with the assessment that it's not a neighborhood, and is a "no-man's land."  Perhaps you can't see it as a neighborhood because it's too "city" for your taste.

Also, I disagree that the New Orleans warehouse district is the most famous in the country.  New York's SoHo and Meatpacking District are far more famous.  But that's beyond the scope of this discussion.

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9 hours ago, hindesky said:

This HCAD plat makes me think they may have picked the route of the North Canal. This would save the UHD pump station and the apartments just north of it.

Je0qh9P.png

 

 

That's the railroad right-of-way, ya silly goose.

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21 minutes ago, phillip_white said:

 

That's the railroad right-of-way, ya silly goose.

I'm talking about the open section that says Steam mill. I realize the train tracks are there in the red.

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I don't know what all the fuss is. We have seen several park projects around town developed in the last ten years and the affect they have had on the surrounding areas. What happened when Discovery Green, and Market Square Park were created or redesigned. Both have shown how development follows. Nobody hung out on Crawford and Mckinney back when I lived on the east side of downtown. Now try and find a parking place around that area. Look at the residential towers that have been built around Market Square park since its revitalization.

For too long people have settled for bare bones solutions. Great cities think ahead and come up with solutions that are both helpful in mitigating problems, while creating solutions that invite development.

Also when my wife and I were looking back in the 90's at property over near Washington Ave. we thought there was a lot of potential for future growth and a lively neighborhood. I felt like there was too much heavy industry and railroad tracks and that it would be a long way off. There was a steel plant right on the corner of Yale and Washington. There were heavy polluters in old metal warehouses. It looked bleak but look at it now. So don't ever tell me how bad an area looks. You have to have vision to see the bones to understand future growth patterns. The jails could probably be moved and with property values going up that might be in the back of the mind of county fathers anyway. There are jails everywhere and other cities have made those areas workable neighborhoods. 

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18 hours ago, bobruss said:

I don't know what all the fuss is. We have seen several park projects around town developed in the last ten years and the affect they have had on the surrounding areas. What happened when Discovery Green, and Market Square Park were created or redesigned. Both have shown how development follows. Nobody hung out on Crawford and Mckinney back when I lived on the east side of downtown. Now try and find a parking place around that area. Look at the residential towers that have been built around Market Square park since its revitalization.

For too long people have settled for bare bones solutions. Great cities think ahead and come up with solutions that are both helpful in mitigating problems, while creating solutions that invite development.

Also when my wife and I were looking back in the 90's at property over near Washington Ave. we thought there was a lot of potential for future growth and a lively neighborhood. I felt like there was too much heavy industry and railroad tracks and that it would be a long way off. There was a steel plant right on the corner of Yale and Washington. There were heavy polluters in old metal warehouses. It looked bleak but look at it now. So don't ever tell me how bad an area looks. You have to have vision to see the bones to understand future growth patterns. The jails could probably be moved and with property values going up that might be in the back of the mind of county fathers anyway. There are jails everywhere and other cities have made those areas workable neighborhoods. 

Exactly! We've seen this pattern over and over and over. That area may have a ton of jails but it sure as hell has a ton of potential as well. I'm excited to see the city converting those existing buildings in to affordable housing and with everything Urban Genesis is doing, I say in 5 years this area won't be recognizable. 

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Tons of potential along the bayou there, and I doubt there are shortages of interesting visions. Seems to me if you moved the jails, you would get a massive pop in value for everything on the north side of downtown and accelerate interest north of the bayou up toward St Arnolds/Warehouse District.  Houston's growth doesn't seem to be slowing much, and we're going to need some density to make that work. Moving the jails and making that area residential wouldn't be too painful for anyone and would be an easier place to live in densely given the location. 

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4 hours ago, Nate99 said:

Tons of potential along the bayou there, and I doubt there are shortages of interesting visions. Seems to me if you moved the jails, you would get a massive pop in value for everything on the north side of downtown and accelerate interest north of the bayou up toward St Arnolds/Warehouse District.  Houston's growth doesn't seem to be slowing much, and we're going to need some density to make that work. Moving the jails and making that area residential wouldn't be too painful for anyone and would be an easier place to live in densely given the location. 

Where would you put the jails? Keep in mind that with the current setup, the jails are close to the courthouse, so it's not a big deal to take inmates to their court cases. The majority of inmates are awaiting trial, and have not been convicted of the crimes they've been charged with, which means many of them have to go to the courthouse every day.

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You are correct about the way the jails and courts work. The thing that bothers me is how the county ended up with the most interesting property in downtown. They own most of the land north of Preston from Main to Austin. The county just purchased a 17 story office building at 1111 Fannin to consolidate their offices downtown. That would seem to me to suggest they might have several old dated properties in north downtown available for sale in the future. Or they could consolidate all of the prisoners in a new jail built on one of those buildings sites adjacent to or in very close proximity to the courts. There is an 8 - 10 story jail on Franklin and Caroline, that sits empty due to poor design. A new jail needs to be built. Perhaps they could be persuaded to rethink the management of their property downtown to more efficient use. They could also make a lot of money if they sold some of that land. Both sides of the bayou should be parkland. The old buildings that sit in the flood plane and deter the flow of Buffalo Bayou are doing no-one any good. Up until a few years ago there was a jail across the street from Minute Maid Park on the north end of Crawford at Preston. There is still a Federal prison in downtown on Texas Ave. and San Jacinto. My point being that a jail need not interfere with the surrounding area. I doubt that most people even knew they existed.

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On 6/8/2022 at 4:12 PM, bobruss said:

The jails could probably be moved and with property values going up that might be in the back of the mind of county fathers anyway.

 

20 hours ago, Nate99 said:

Seems to me if you moved the jails, you would get a massive pop in value for everything on the north side of downtown and accelerate interest north of the bayou up toward St Arnolds/Warehouse District.

There has has been exactly zero talk about moving the jails or courthouses. This is true despite the fact that the courthouse buildings are badly designed and heavily susceptible to flooding. County offices are now spread around multiple buildings, across multiple blocks along the bayou's south bank, while the jails, sheriff's office, and prisoner intake take up the north bank. This area isn't going to see any explosive growth because all of the best land is tied up in institutional uses. Ironically the East River site would have probably been perfect to build an entire new civic center for this purpose due to its large size and central location next to downtown. The county could have even worked with the city to build a new Public Safety complex and Police HQ, since the city is looking to move HPDHQ, Central Precinct, and city courts anyway. Instead, the city pursued the old post office (the one that got redeveloped) and didn't get it.

Now, I don't know where the county or city would move since everything else is developed. Buy up an existing industrial area nobody would miss? That warehouse area between Spur 5, Gulf Freeway, and the railroad tracks? I got nothing.

Edited by Big E
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I wasn't trying to imply it was realistic or likely, just that it could make for a really cool area if the jails weren't taking up so much space and repelling neighbors. It could plausibly pay for itself via land value and higher tax value after the fact, but that's just speculation.  All that said, the county likely doesn't care all that much and they would be controlling the deal. Didn't they just finish a brand new facility too?

But as for where to relocate, just pick your personal least favorite corner of the county.  I'd pick something industrial off Almeda or maybe next to one of our landfills. 

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8 hours ago, Big E said:

 

 Ironically the East River site would have probably been perfect to build an entire new civic center for this purpose due to its large size and central location next to downtown. 

 

I guess it's too late to swap the entirety of the bayou frontage downtown for East River. That does seem better. 

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On 6/10/2022 at 12:03 AM, Big E said:

There has has been exactly zero talk about moving the jails or courthouses

This is not entirely correct.

There's a plan to consolidate the courthouses and such into the area of Houston/Dart/I-45/Memorial.  It's being called the "cops and courts complex," and is supposed to have two light rail stations connected to either the Purple or Green lines.   

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