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Holcombe Square: Planned Development


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Dec. 21, 2005, 1:59PM

New plans unveiled for Holcombe Square

By TOM MANNING

Chronicle Correspondent

The first phase of a project aimed at improving pedestrian safety in Holcombe Square in the Texas Medical Center will include widening sidewalks, separating cars from pedestrians with a string of live oaks, improving ramp access at street corners, and adding new lighting along Holcombe, South Main and Fannin streets.

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With 40,000 cars traveling through Holcombe Square each day, the intersections of Holcombe and Main and Holcombe and Fannin have long been considered dangerous for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
"We want to turn that into an urban plaza. We want that to become a focal point that people identify with the square."

If they think it will become an "urban plaza" with 40,000 cars passing each day, they're hallucinating.

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OK, now why are they calling that intersection "Holcombe Square"? It's basically an intersection, right? Strikes me as another misleading name dreamed up for marketing purposes. <_<

Well, maybe you should read the article again. The plan includes development of a park or plaza on adjacent property. And with that, what is wrong with giving a name to an area that is a gateway to one of Houston's biggest assets? IMO good names for areas can add some "romance" (for lack of a better word) to city life. It has seemed to me that, for whatever reason, Houston has seemed to be averse to the naming of areas. I recall when the Metro Rail was being laid out and they were naming the stations... there was a move to name what is now called the downtown transit center station "Cathedral Square Station". I liked that name and thought it would have added some "romance" (again, for lack of a better word), but Houston would have none of it.

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I'm all for spiffing the area up, but the "Holcombe Square" business still strikes me as a bit pretentious. The triangle is a small lot bounded by Holcombe, Fannin, Old Main Street, and a drive-in bank. It serves essentially as a traffic island. It can't function in the same way as what most of us would consider a city square or urban plaza because it has no pedestrian destination and is isolated by major streets. That's why I find the name misleading and pompous. It just seems as bogus as the "SoDo" and "NoDo" ideas that people are always dreaming up - the idea that you add glamour by renaming.

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Is it just me or is it impossible to satisfy some people on this board?

We often see complaints here that the city does do enough planning, or that when it does do planning, it doesn't follow through. The concept of Holcombe Square is part of the Main Street Master Plan, and of course it's trying to follow through on that plan here.

We often see complaints here that the city does not include citizens in its planning. Here it is having public meetings and seeking a great deal of input from all the stakeholders.

We often see complaints here that the city makes no effort towards a more walkable, more liveable city. That is the main goal of this project.

And the reaction from members of this board? "it's in the wrong place; they should spend money spiffing up other areas of town" "It should not be given a name" "there's too much traffic nearby" . . .

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Sounds great. Any money spent on aesthetics and pedestrianistics is well spent. And we've done a good job so far with the various other similar improvements around town so they have my confidence that the end result will be pleasing.

As for it being too car-oriented to be a real town square type deal; yes, no doubt, but this is the 21st century and the car still rules so we need to somehow adapt wide streets and intersections into multi-use areas; car friendly and pedestrian friendly at the same time. Rare are the available land tracts inside major intersections and it's impractical to convert major intersections into narrow-laned, "boutique" pedestrian zones. With the rail, the tons of people who work there and the new, wide sidewalks, park and eventual pedestrian bridge, it's bound to be well used.

The name; not very original perhaps but what else do you call something like that ? And look how hard it is to come up with a soccer team's name? I say go with it, build it, and be let's be glad they're doing it now while we can.

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Sounds great. Any money spent on aesthetics and pedestrianistics is well spent. And we've done a good job so far with the various other similar improvements around town so they have my confidence that the end result will be pleasing.

As for it being too car-oriented to be a real town square type deal; yes, no doubt, but this is the 21st century and the car still rules so we need to somehow adapt wide streets and intersections into multi-use areas; car friendly and pedestrian friendly at the same time. Rare are the available land tracts inside major intersections and it's impractical to convert major intersections into narrow-laned, "boutique" pedestrian zones. With the rail, the tons of people who work there and the new, wide sidewalks, park and eventual pedestrian bridge, it's bound to be well used.

The name; not very original perhaps but what else do you call something like that ? And look how hard it is to come up with a soccer team's name? I say go with it, build it, and be let's be glad they're doing it now while we can.

The project is fine. I just thought the name was a bit much. What I could see making sense in that location, more so than an "urban plaza", would be some sort of symbolic entrance or gateway into the Medical Center, which is something it lacks now.

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What I could see making sense in that location, more so than an "urban plaza", would be some sort of symbolic entrance or gateway into the Medical Center, which is something it lacks now.

yes, i agree. perhaps a syringe fountain to match st. luke's tower... ^_^

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The project is fine. I just thought the name was a bit much. What I could see making sense in that location, more so than an "urban plaza", would be some sort of symbolic entrance or gateway into the Medical Center, which is something it lacks now.

You could be right about the name having origins similar to the acronymical naming of neighborhood clusters in that, if whoever is involved in the planning of these projects is using a Manhattanesque model, then having various "squares" around town, along with the cutesy naming of districts, would fit, as Manhattan has Times, Washington, Madison, Herald and probably several other squares.

The symbolic gateway idea would also be cool. That one would take some thinking though. The thing that comes to my mind first would be a gigantic $ sign.

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I think improvements at any major intersection involving pedestrians and vehicular traffic is a great idea for a city like Houston which for too has long ignored these areas. However, Main/Fannin at Holcombe is not the gateway to the TMC. It's smack in the middle. A crossroads maybe-but not a gateway. Main/Fannin at Outerbelt-that's a gateway.

Maybe we should call it the Crossroads at Holcombe. Try more pedestrian/traffic separation. Maybe a monumental fountain on an axis with the Mecom [a fountain freak here!].

Anyway, my 0.02 for what it's worth.

Happy Haify New Year!!! [hope that didn't offend any PCer's ;) ]

B)

Edited by nmainguy
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By golly you're right. :D A fountain would be just the thing for that vacant lot. It sure makes more sense than a pedestrian plaza. I was thinking more of a symbolic rather than literal gateway, so it doesn't have to be on the edge. The idea would be to give the Medical Center some kind of marker or identifying feature that it lacks now. A fountain at Holcombe and Fannin would be perfect.

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yes, i agree. perhaps a syringe fountain to match st. luke's tower... ^_^

Seriously, I really like that idea. A group of vertical syringes squirting out the top. It would be pretty funny. I wonder if the Med Center has the wit to do something like that?

Yesterday I rode down to check out the vacant lot in question (next to the drive-in). It is not a very impressive location. It lacks the visibility for any major public function.

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Seriously, I really like that idea. A group of vertical syringes squirting out the top. It would be pretty funny. I wonder if the Med Center has the wit to do something like that?

Yesterday I rode down to check out the vacant lot in question (next to the drive-in). It is not a very impressive location. It lacks the visibility for any major public function.

syringes, or perhaps a huge air-shield (since starting in may, smoking will be banned in the medical center)

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/health/3466942.html

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Seriously, I really like that idea. A group of vertical syringes squirting out the top. It would be pretty funny. I wonder if the Med Center has the wit to do something like that?

Yesterday I rode down to check out the vacant lot in question (next to the drive-in). It is not a very impressive location. It lacks the visibility for any major public function.

Who said anything about having "major public functions" at Holcombe Square?

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  • 10 months later...
I'm all for spiffing the area up, but the "Holcombe Square" business still strikes me as a bit pretentious. The triangle is a small lot bounded by Holcombe, Fannin, Old Main Street, and a drive-in bank. It serves essentially as a traffic island. It can't function in the same way as what most of us would consider a city square or urban plaza because it has no pedestrian destination and is isolated by major streets. That's why I find the name misleading and pompous. It just seems as bogus as the "SoDo" and "NoDo" ideas that people are always dreaming up - the idea that you add glamour by renaming.

Has anyone ever sat on that concrete bench facing Fannin St. at this location? If you look underneath, it actaully serves as a ventilation for some kind of electrical gear. Real cumfy! Don't get too relaxed!

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 years later...
Did this project ever happen?

They did do one thing. They modified Old Main in such a way that it's no longer a zippy short cut to avoid the intersection of Fannin and Holcombe as it used to be. I forgot what they did, they did something like added a curve or something.

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They did do one thing. They modified Old Main in such a way that it's no longer a zippy short cut to avoid the intersection of Fannin and Holcombe as it used to be. I forgot what they did, they did something like added a curve or something.

And they also put up a directional sign with Holcome misspelled. Classy!

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  • The title was changed to Holcombe Square: Planned Development

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