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Houston's Own Grand Central Station-Downtown Transit Hub.


DJ V Lawrence

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http://www.houstonchronicle.com/disp/story...nt/3599661.html

Should be an interesting project. Curious as to if it will become a reality...

Yeah I would like to see how far this goes.

Do we really need something like this?

It would be cool just to have it, but do we really need this.

I don't see too many people wanting this. The money could probably be spent on other things for Metro

like speeding up the progress of rail.

I'm waiting for more details before I give it a :( or a :D

right now I'm at :unsure:

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The price might seem a bit high, especially considering that currently there is only one short rail line in downtown. But, if one considers the future uses, it would seem smarter to prepare by building for the future use, than having to start over when it gets busy.

Initially, the Intermodal would have a light rail station, a commuter rail station, and bus terminals, as well as METRO bus transfers. While only one commuter line would terminate here initially, future plans may include lines to the Woodlands and IAH/Kingwood, as well as potentially out 249 to Tomball. All of those northern lines would terminate here.

Additionally, a Clear Lake/Galveston line would likely terminate here as well. Only the Fort Bend line or other Southwest lines would have trouble connecting at a Northside terminal.

Amtrak would move it's terminal here. If high speed rail ever materializes, it will terminate here. The bus terminals will move here. I'm sure there would be room for restaurants and other services. The article suggested a parking lot, which would allow city dwellers to use the terminal to head out as well.

All in all, I look forward to the plans. My fear was that the intermodal would just be a glorified Amtrak station. This sounds like METRO is looking far into the future.

And, for that kind of money, I doubt they will let it deteriorate into the Greyhound station.

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This sounds like a good plan to me. Metro's already got 15 acres and the Intermodal is already going to happen so why not make it a landmark?

Yes, it will be one of those huge magnets for homeless etc. but not much you can do about that, but it could really start a major frenzy of dense residential projects that have a higher level target buyer than what might develop if it was a smaller, more modestly designed hub.

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Here's the architects website http://www.eekarchitects.com/

Click on Projects then on Transportation & Transit Oriented Development.

I don't think we'll get a glorified bus barn from these guys.

This is the only building of theirs I have actually been to. It was very well done with great detailing.

ACF78.jpg

Circle Centre Artsgarden Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

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Aside from other considerations, wish they wouldn't compare any new transit station to "a local version of the N.Y. landmark".

We're going to rival Grand Central Station...for $150 mil?

My gosh; we couldn't even duplicate GCS's facade for that amount.

It's rather like saying that Moody Gardens rivals the pyramids of Egypt.

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The thing that this seems to be missing is it being a major teminus itself. It is just a place to transfer from one transport mode to another. Not like Grand Central where it is an actual destination. Maybe if it was closer to downtown or any of the major business centers around town... but north of 10?

Edited by Lowbrow
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Ditto on wishing it could be closer to the core of downtown, so a good portion of arriving passengers could walk away from the station, rather than transferring to another mode. But I guess the increased costs (higher land costs and no doubt sky-high costs of getting all of the rail lines to converge somewhere near the middle of downtown, probably requiring they be in tunnels) probably make such a location totally infeasible.

The fact that they are hiring a top-tier architecture/planning firm, indicates they are aiming to build a landmark structure, not just a glorified Greyhound station. I think they are going in the right direction here.

Mark me down as a :D ,

Edited by Houston19514
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I agree with the closer to downtown thing. I hate downtown's borders. It's like a fortress compared to the rest of the city. So whatever development happens in downtown will not have that great of an effect on the surrounding neighborhoods. Too bad freeways surround downtown at all corners.

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Remember Hardy Yards is at that corner, too. A substantial Intermodal Station could fit with the Hardy development quite easily. As for the core of Downtown argument, yes the expense would be incredible. But, as I mentioned in another thread, Grand Central Station is not in Downtown New York either.

The I-10 knife through northern Downtown is regrettable, but this is a pretty old and confusing and congested section of freeway. Its replacement is not too far down the road. If the Intermodal gets off the ground, as well as Hardy Yards, there will be an impetus to do something with that section of freeway. I could see it being rerouted or sunk or buried or some other solution that joins the Near Northside with Downtown.

The possibilities are endless. Mark me a :D

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Downtown is busy enough during the day. I often wonder if some of you ever even go downtown.

No comment.

Well let me just say there are several times when I am walking in downtown on the weekday and I am the only person on the sidewalk on any particular block. Sometimes even during lunch. :blink:

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I'm giving this a tentative :)

If we could get the architects and city to REALLY think outside of the box, maybe we could have something as beautiful as this.

night.jpg

WTC Path Station by Santiago Calatrava

I say go with beauty and grace. This needs to be a place for Houstonians first and formost. We deserve the best and should demand it. I'd hate to see so much money poorly spent when it could produce something really magical and timeless.

If this happens, it will get this :D X 1,000!

B)

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The only thing that frustrates me is that Metro already spent so much money building their Downtown Transit Center and Headquarters. Once this new 'Grand Central Station' is in place, the Downtown TC seems as though it'll be rendered practically useless as a means of effectively moving people. After all, it is not within a reasonable walking distance of downtown's core, just like the new site, and is a spot that is harder to access from freeways. And any synergistic benefits that Metro may have wanted to gain by officing directly above the (currently) most heavily used transit center will be eliminated as well.

Somehow, I would not be surprised if the Downtown TC was sold off entirely and Metro then turned around and built another new headquarters building above the proposed 'Grand Central Station'.

All this said, I still like the potential of the new 'Grand Central Station' concept (as long as all these commuter rail routes are feasible)...I just wish that Metro had the foresight to prevent incurring massive and unnecessary costs.

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The only thing that frustrates me is that Metro already spent so much money building their Downtown Transit Center and Headquarters. Once this new 'Grand Central Station' is in place, the Downtown TC seems as though it'll be rendered practically useless as a means of effectively moving people. After all, it is not within a reasonable walking distance of downtown's core, just like the new site, and is a spot that is harder to access from freeways. And any synergistic benefits that Metro may have wanted to gain by officing directly above the (currently) most heavily used transit center will be eliminated as well.

Somehow, I would not be surprised if the Downtown TC was sold off entirely and Metro then turned around and built another new headquarters building above the proposed 'Grand Central Station'.

All this said, I still like the potential of the new 'Grand Central Station' concept (as long as all these commuter rail routes are feasible)...I just wish that Metro had the foresight to prevent incurring massive and unnecessary costs.

I am not sure that the new station will be duplicative. As I see it, the new 'GCS' will be just that, a major transportation hub. The already constructed building, however, I think is more of an administrative structure than a big bus stop.

I think that having a beautiful, landmark-quality building to connect all of Houston's mass transit is long overdue, particularly in downtown.

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Also, bear in mind that the Transit Centers function as a central place for several BUS routes to cross, facilitating transfers. There are several all over town. Downtown is just one that was sorely needed in a central location.

The Intermodal, on the other hand, will function as a transfer center for different MODES of transportation, as well as different transportation entities, like Amtrak and Greyhound.

I don't see them as duplicative either.

Edited by RedScare
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The only thing that frustrates me is that Metro already spent so much money building their Downtown Transit Center and Headquarters. Once this new 'Grand Central Station' is in place, the Downtown TC seems as though it'll be rendered practically useless as a means of effectively moving people. After all, it is not within a reasonable walking distance of downtown's core, just like the new site, and is a spot that is harder to access from freeways. And any synergistic benefits that Metro may have wanted to gain by officing directly above the (currently) most heavily used transit center will be eliminated as well.

Somehow, I would not be surprised if the Downtown TC was sold off entirely and Metro then turned around and built another new headquarters building above the proposed 'Grand Central Station'.

All this said, I still like the potential of the new 'Grand Central Station' concept (as long as all these commuter rail routes are feasible)...I just wish that Metro had the foresight to prevent incurring massive and unnecessary costs.

Downtown TC serves the Gulf Freeway bus cooridor pretty well, and is essential for anyone coming from the Bay Area or UH to the Medical Center.

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TheNiche:

Well, the new building is for administation. They just happened to have space for the DT transit center which serves the same purpose as all the other TC's.

If the intermodal is going to be built, it will most likly be at the N. Main location as Metro already has 15 acres there.

There was never any room for a facility downtown that may ultimatly consist of 3-5 converging rail lines plus Amtrack plus busses plus LRT plus Park and Ride.

The DT transit center, Administration bldg and the new intermodal all have distinct purposes. There is no duplication.

B)

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Though comparisons to other cities, especially Dallas, often frustrates some of us, I ask you to consider Dallas Union Station. It's right near Reunion Tower (the Big Ball in the skyline). Has the features the new station would have: links to light rail, commuter rail, Amtrak, and bus lines. The point made earlier regarding the proposed Hardy Yards is good. Hopefully these two projects work synergize each others development.

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The thing that this seems to be missing is it being a major teminus itself. It is just a place to transfer from one transport mode to another. Not like Grand Central where it is an actual destination. Maybe if it was closer to downtown or any of the major business centers around town... but north of 10?

I lived in NYC for a short time, but I don't ever remeber GCS being a destination unto itself. It's primary purpose is to be a major transportation hub.

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I lived in NYC for a short time, but I don't ever remeber GCS being a destination unto itself. It's primary purpose is to be a major transportation hub.

I think the point really was that the area/neighborhood is a destination, not the building itself. Many people can get off the trains in GCS and walk to their ultimate destination.

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I think the point really was that the area/neighborhood is a destination, not the building itself. Many people can get off the trains in GCS and walk to their ultimate destination.

thank ya

dont get me wrong, I'm down with this. I just see a big difference in use and therefore a weak comparison. I doubt I would try walking to the Spaghetti Warehouse from there, mush less to any of downtown's commercial towers.

Edited by Lowbrow
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I think the point really was that the area/neighborhood is a destination, not the building itself. Many people can get off the trains in GCS and walk to their ultimate destination.

Sure you can, if your destination is the UN or the Public Library. Anything else is going to be a pretty good hike. While a walk from the proposed Intermodal to Spaghetti Warehouse is a healthy .6 miles, so is Bryant Park from Grand Central. Times Square? Twice that. Want to see the site of the World Trade Center? Bring a lunch. It is over 5 miles away, akin to walking to The Medical Center.

There is this common myth that everything is a pleasant 2 block walk from everything else. In reality, it is 13.4 miles long and 1 to 2.3 miles wide. The reason it seems so accessible is its fortuitous shape (long and skinny), and it's well developed transit system, which had a 100 year head start on ours.

Any misguided belief that Grand Central is anywhere close to New York's Downtown is to completely ignore the realities of NYC. The proposed Intermodal is virtually IN Downtown Houston compared to Grand Central's location in Manhattan.

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Sure you can, if your destination is the UN or the Public Library. Anything else is going to be a pretty good hike. While a walk from the proposed Intermodal to Spaghetti Warehouse is a healthy .6 miles, so is Bryant Park from Grand Central. Times Square? Twice that. Want to see the site of the World Trade Center? Bring a lunch. It is over 5 miles away, akin to walking to The Medical Center.

There is this common myth that everything is a pleasant 2 block walk from everything else. In reality, it is 13.4 miles long and 1 to 2.3 miles wide. The reason it seems so accessible is its fortuitous shape (long and skinny), and it's well developed transit system, which had a 100 year head start on ours.

Any misguided belief that Grand Central is anywhere close to New York's Downtown is to completely ignore the realities of NYC. The proposed Intermodal is virtually IN Downtown Houston compared to Grand Central's location in Manhattan.

Don't be ridiculous. I (and I am sure others) are quite aware of the size of Manhattan Island. And any misguided belief that the only "destination" on Manhattan is in downtown or any misguided belief that there are no workplaces, offices, retail stores, residences, restaurants etc, etc, etc. within easy walking distance of GCS is also to completely ignore the realities of NYC. (and, trust me, there is a good deal more within a short walk from GCS than just the UN and the Public Library.) If there are almost no destinations in the GCS neighborhood, I wonder what all of those people rushing in and out of the building were doing every time I've been there. Are they just actors hired to make it look busy?

In short, no one even hinted that they believed that ALL of NYC or even all of Manhattan was a "pleasant 2 block walk from" GCS. This is quite contrary to the proposed Intermodal station in Houston, where almost NOTHING wold be a pleasant 2 block walk, and almost every arriving passenger would have to switch to another mode of transportation (other than walking). I think it's probably the best we can hope for, I totally support it, and hopefully, the area around it can grow into a good mixed-use area, so that there can be some pedestrian traffic coming and going from the facility.

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But, as I mentioned in another thread, Grand Central Station is not in Downtown New York either.

Not entirely accurate. Grand Central is in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, which is more New York City's "Downtown" than Downtown is...if that makes sense. All around are Met Life, Chrysler, UN, etc. Don't let the nomenclature fool you. The proposal for Houston is more akin to locating the station in Queens. Nobody walks from Queens to Manhattan...just like nobody will walk from this station to Downtown Houston.

I also would like to "boo" this "Houston version of the NY landmark" comparison. Ours will be nothing like that, so the poor Chronicle writer should be ashamed. This is sorta like how that crappy homeless park was going to be "Houston's version of Central Park." I wonder if these Chronicle idiots have ever even been to New York...

Edited by dalparadise
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The proposal for Houston is more akin to locating the station in Queens.

If you are comparing Buffalo Bayou to the East River, perhaps it could be Queens. :P

New York comparisons are silly anyway. The only way to put this building in Downtown would be to tunnel numerous tracks to it, which is impractical and very expensive. Besides, a transfer is not a deal killer. The Main Street line runs every 6 minutes.

And yes, calling this Houston's answer to GCT invites derision and disappointment. It could hardly compare, though if designed well, it could do us proud. The Chronicle should move on to more realistic comparisons. There is only one New York City. No American city comes close. But, that doesn't mean there are no other great cities.

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And yes, calling this Houston's answer to GCT invites derision and disappointment. It could hardly compare, though if designed well, it could do us proud. The Chronicle should move on to more realistic comparisons. There is only one New York City. No American city comes close. But, that doesn't mean there are no other great cities.

truer words have never been said...............well, concerning the comparison of a transportation crossroads in houston. we are not, can not be a chicago, nyc, etc. we are not geographically challenged, we are not limited by some of the things that larger cities are limited by. ergo..............we can be inventive, unique, artistic and genius. let's be daring enough to be houston, and make it something that works for us with a little style and a lot of bravado. the unique genius of our town is understatement.........a subtle, gentle beauty that is functional, profitable and human in scale. B)

Edited by bachanon
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I am in total agreement with the comments regarding comparing this to Grand Central Station. Once again the Chronicle does a disservice to the city of Houston. The frequent silly comarisons such as this and the lame comarison of the new park to Cenral Park just seem juvenile and insecure. Sometimes I think the best thing that could happen for the future of Houston is to replace the entire staff at the Chronicle.

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*reads article*

YAY! A 150 million dollar station, surrounded by 20 acres of park and ride lots!

:yawn:

Hardly. This project will not be surrounded by 20 acres of park and ride lots. Do the math. The land is valuable and will be developed (see below). METRO is committed to transit-oriented development, and Cypress (a real estate investment and development company that has done some high-profile projects around the country) made a huge purchase of the Hardy Yards site next door... also to be developed. There is a lot of investment going on in this area... and parking lots are not part of the plan.

If one does a little research into METRO over the past two years or so, some big changes have taken place. Light-rail has finally started... and ridership has already surpassed projections. The leadership of METRO is now made up of people from the real estate community - and the last time I checked they were initiating two transit-oriented developments. The TOD at the Texas Medical Center - with office, retail, hotel, and condo space all included in the mix - will cost over $200 million and will be built atop the Galen St. station. You guys want dense, pedestrian oriented development?? - here you go. Another retail (w/ a possible multifamily component) development is being constructed at a Park & Ride facility off of 290. More light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit are all being incorporated into METRO's expansion projects - to be completed by 2012. A central intermodal facility is exactly what we need in Houston... and I'm extremely excited about this project.

And btw, the site makes total sense. It is very close to existing rail lines, Interstate 10, Interstate 45, and Highway 59 (its intermodal - so it includes rubber wheeled vehicles, also). Light rail is being expanded straight into this site. This area was incorporated into the Main Street Corridor Plan of a few years ago, as well as the 2025 Plan for the CBD by Central Houston, Inc. (that was released last year). I think we'll be pleasantly surprised if we revisit this topic in five or six years as to how much this area... and downtown and the city as a whole... will benefit from projects like this.

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(Warning: this comment contains wishful thinking of a graphic nature)

I think this central station will be cool, but I have another suggestion; put a smaller version downtown along with it for local buses. Location: The Shops in Houston.

http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...?showtopic=4802

Some of us have discussed that not many people go there regularly. They're already renovating and putting mad money into The Shops now. Has lots of retail there that could benefit from mass crowds passing by. And it's in close proximity to Toyota Center, George R. Brown, Hilton Americas, Minute Maid Park, and the new Downtown Park. Think the Pavillions will be located near there as well. It could help that whole part of downtown become more pedestrian friendly. :P

Simply have all buses headed downtown drop everyone off at the Downtown station (The Shops), and have double Decker buses or something different transport people throughout downtown from that station. And have buses (and the light rail on Main) take people directly to the Grand Station at N.Main and 1-10 if needbe B)

(end wishful thinking here)

I wonder why Metro would feel the need to have a Grand Station in a location that doesn't have any true landmarks around it. Something tells me they will be looking for land soon. Probably Downtown or Midtown, too.

Edited by DJ V Lawrence
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