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BayouCityGirl

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Besides things like creating an African Safari experience in a potential new 20 acre expansion over the 4 current surface parking lots west of Hermann Park Dr, what other attractions does our zoo lack that could put it on another level?

Those 2 poor white tigers at the Aquarium could use a new/larger home. Our zoo lacks Pandas, Polar Bears, and many other exotic animals that could bring in additional visitors. Maybe we could turn the expansion into a Yellowstone type experience with wild buffalo and other exotic animals roaming the "plains". Idk, just an idea for something "fresh" instead of copying the African Safari idea or something else that's been done before.

If we did something like "The Animals of Yellowstone" in just large mammals alone we could have bison, bears, bighorn sheep, bobcats, Canadian lynx, coyotes, elk, moose, mountain goats, mountain lions, mule deer, white tail deer, and grey wolves. Think how epic it would be to walk through all of those enclosures/breeds of animal in one location (without having to travel all the way to Yellowstone.. Heck, McGovern even has a little "old faithful" gyser in the middle.. Heh).

Edited by cloud713
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The problem with off-site shuttles, especially if they're too far away, is that visitors won't find it (remember: out of towners go there too) and end up circling around the Hermann Park area anyway. A little forethought could even bring parking around the South Loop area and taking the light rail back up, but most people don't have that forethought.

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Yes, you've been gone way too long. It's a zoo, built for your amusement, not the animals.

Just kidding. Seriously though, sure it would be nice if they have more space, but what you're suggesting cost money. If private funds can be gathered to buy lot's of acreage so the animals are free to roam, and if private funds will maintain the land & facilities, that's fine. But I for one will not approve of any public funds going into such a project. So that's where it ends. So to recap, don't give the city any ideas like this, it's a bad idea, they'll run up the cost like crazy and use this as an excuse to raise taxes. Leave it up to individuals to fund and own.

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The Zoo has really changed since the started charging a fee and had more money other than that in the city budget. It is now rated in the top 10 in the country and about the seventh most visited. San Diego has fallen to number 4. And the no. 1 zoo in the country both in quality and most visited is the Columbus (OH) Zoo. Zoos can really change. It can't physically grow because of the confines of the park. Move it near Katy where there's land, then the centralized population lose out.

Similarly, when the zoo was a small nothing but a bunch or cages and wrought iron fences, the Houston Museum of Natural Science with a few dinosaurs, and the Burke Baker Planetarium. Then fund raise, charge for admission, beg for donations and let it grow, it will become, as it is today, the SECOND-MOST visited museum of its kind in the country beaten only by the NY Natural History Museum.

Were it not for the land constraints I am sure it would have been mor like the SD Zoo except for the weather. Sadly, the zoo will continue to improve but only in quality but not in size for more exhibits unless Houston Zoo 2 happens in Memorial Park. Still, Houston is a blesses city.

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I think that my planned location is fine as it is (it isn't really that far away from the current location, and especially not in relative senses), but it's all the infrastructure built up.

And as much as the "park off-site" thing may sound great in theory, there's two problems:

1) People will still end up trying to circle around the park area trying to find parking, or may get lost trying to find the off-site parking.

2) Shuttles won't work all that well unless they have a dedicated ROW (like Disney World).

However, there's a few more crazier ideas I thought up:

Dig up the existing parking lot in phases for an underground parking deck (continuous) that links the parking garage across Hermann Park Drive. A ramp will lead up to the zoo, which uses the old space for expansion space.

Permanently close MacGregor Way between Almeda and Cambridge, renaming the last segment (between Cambridge and Holcombe) as Braeswood. This lets the park directly interface with the bayou. A parking garage at Holcombe and Almeda is built with a new dedicated shuttleway going back to the zoo.

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Dig up the existing parking lot in phases for an underground parking deck (continuous) that links the parking garage across Hermann Park Drive. A ramp will lead up to the zoo, which uses the old space for expansion space.

Permanently close MacGregor Way between Almeda and Cambridge, renaming the last segment (between Cambridge and Holcombe) as Braeswood. This lets the park directly interface with the bayou. A parking garage at Holcombe and Almeda is built with a new dedicated shuttleway going back to the zoo.

I don't think people would get lost finding "off-site" parking. Disneyworlds parking is practically off-site (I mean you have to take a tram ride to a freaking monorail, which you then take to the park), and it works perfectly. Just get some new signage directing people to a new exit on 288, ect.

So are you down for my idea of building a garage on the one lot to the east of Hermann Park Dr? The underground parking is neat, and would provide tunnel access under the expansion so some visitors using the garage can cut under the zoo to get to the lake/rest of the amenities in the northwest portion of the park.

I LOVE the idea of closing that stretch of MacGregor. It's pretty pointless anyways, seeing as you can get to all the same places by exiting at Holcombe.

Notice the "Greenway Trail" through Hermann park from the parking lot east of Hermann Park Dr all the way easy to MacGregor? What if they widened that trail (and possibly trenched it) and used it to transport guests to and from a parking garage on Almeda, where MacGregor would terminate, directly to the entrance of the zoo. (With the garage in this location you could keep the zoo signage and exit off 288 at MacGregor)

Yeah, running trams through the middle of a golf course might not be the most visually appealing or appreciative by the golfers (not to mention the possibility of getting hit by a stray ball), but that's why I suggested trenching the Greenway Trail.

2808AD8C-FF64-4A4E-8993-60BCA329298F_zps

Edited by cloud713
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Although I tend not to support closing roads, that segment of MacGregor can go as it won't create any discontinuous segments between the road itself (except for one part and that would be renamed), it was already off the grid anyway (road grid), and in 2009 (about) they closed the westbound part of MacGregor that went all those trees and turned it into a trail, so instead of MacGregor being a long meandering jog through the park, it became a boring four lane road. There's also the fact that closing doesn't force you to detour awkwardly.

Edited by IronTiger
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If they redeveloped all the surface parking into a garage, then there would be a lot of room for a safari like expansion.

 

This would be cool, that parking lot that used to be the clubhouse parking for the golf course, turn that into a parking garage, turn the whole parking lot into more zoo.

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What I LOVE about this thread is that it opens my mind to possibilities I have never considered. First off, relocating the entire zoo seems bit extreme. I would keep the present zoo, but have it only keep smaller animals, reptiles, birds, etc. BUT, I would love to see some visionary develop a safari like habitat for the larger animals, reptiles and birds. I wonder if there is a way to keep some of the integrity of the plains west of Houston and still create a large animal habitat. I am thinking somewhere along the western part of the new 99 tollway between Katy and Cypress. Because, although it would be a bit out of the way NOW, think of 2 to 5 k protected acres in that area decades from now! :)

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I would keep the present zoo, but have it only keep smaller animals, reptiles, birds, etc. BUT, I would love to see some visionary develop a safari like habitat for the larger animals, reptiles and birds. I wonder if there is a way to keep some of the integrity of the plains west of Houston and still create a large animal habitat. I am thinking somewhere along the western part of the new 99 tollway between Katy and Cypress. Because, although it would be a bit out of the way NOW, think of 2 to 5 k protected acres in that area decades from now! :)

my problem with that is that seems like it might detract from the original zoo if you removed all the larger/arguably more interesting animals to a different location. and also the location. you are right in a few decades the area will be developed, but (hopefully) that will still be near the fringes of the west side, and not anywhere near the middle of the metro. plus there is that Alvin Zoo/open range animal habitat thing about just as far out from the city as your idea/off the Grand Parkway (when it gets built through Alvin).

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Ahhh didn't know about the Alvin development. yes, after I posted I honestly thought, OK Marcus, what attracted you the most ( besides the new landscaping) the larger or smaller animals? Honestly, the African zone was my favorite. So, I guess I just wanted to see them in a more open habitat.

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I have only been to the Houston Zoo once since it became private, other then that I went several times as a child in the 80's-90's. I was in awe as a child, then depressed going to zoos as I got older. This includes Dallas, St Louis, and DC zoos. The only zoo i have been to where it felt natural, the animals appeared happy, and it was a completely enjoyable experience was the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The night zoo in Singapore also wasn't bad, but it was hard to tell exactly what was going on with the animals. Anyways, though I find it unfortunate how many of the animals are treated I am sure I will take my kids to the Houston Zoo (when I have some to take!).

 

I understand the flow of Hermann Park and the open feel. But what if a garage was built across Hermann Park Dr, there is a surface there in front of the Conservancy. Even  a 2 story garage with rooftop parking that has greenery/vines on the walls would effectively triple the size of that lot and they could convert most of the Zoo lot to expand the actual zoo?

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I understand the flow of Hermann Park and the open feel. But what if a garage was built across Hermann Park Dr, there is a surface there in front of the Conservancy. Even a 2 story garage with rooftop parking that has greenery/vines on the walls would effectively triple the size of that lot and they could convert most of the Zoo lot to expand the actual zoo?

This is exactly what I've been advocating! Glad were on the same page.. The zoo could use the other 4 or so large surface lots on the west of Hermann Park Dr to expand the zoo to the northeast another 20 or so acres so that those animals can wander around more freely, like many of us desire.

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The zoo does seem small , I would go by it to and fro appointments . It could use some extra room . I've been to the zoo in San Diego and like Houston has a miniature train but the difference is the zoo is huge and the train runs all through the zoo for quick and easy viewing . Hermann is room for expansion . Another Idea that would be possible is to remove or shrink the golf course by a few acres away from MacGregor street and from the walking trail.The thought of those flying balls passing trees that suppose to deflect them and knocking out the windows of passing vehicles and people jogging and walking on the asphalt trail being hit by them . That would really create some expansion room . 

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That way, we could move the golf course off of Hermann Park and open all that area up to redevelopment, some zoo parking [and then of course use the original parking to make more zoo, as discussed], some fields to play frisbee or whatever. Perhaps another "bark park" to keep the dogs off the area.

now theres an idea! or even use a portion of the former golf course for those Botanical Gardens the city wants to build.

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So yes, I like the idea of expanding the zoo, and I can summarize all my ideas as such, and my ideas could improve the park. It'd take some money and some coordinating planning, but I think this idea will suit everyone, including new traffic patterns:

1) Redevelop the National Guard Facilities at Bertner and OST as a new vertical commercial building. As part of this project, the Kroger will be expanded and renovated (at least renovated). The new tenants of this redeveloped building are moved from the McGovern Campus (old Nabisco plant).

2) Convert the Nabisco plant back into industrial by having tenants move out between Hepburn and OST (roughly). Start by assembling the vacant tracts that are there and close off roads. This will be a new golf course when all is said and done and may encourage new residential development there (already some there)

3) After the golf course is built, the old golf course is abandoned. Optionally, we'll tackle closing MacGregor where it runs through the park, but it still carries a significant amount of traffic, including to the Medical Center. Holcombe, Almeda, and Cambridge will be upgraded in preparation for the closure, including new surfaces, better stoplights, more lanes, parking even.

4) In part of the abandoned golf course area, Hermann Drive will connect to MacGregor instead of intersecting Almeda and dead-ending at the 288 frontage road. That way, you could go directly to Hermann by exiting the 288 frontage road and helping traffic flow.

5) Close MacGregor between Almeda and Cambridge permanently. The pavement doesn't have to be totally removed, at least, not yet. Rename MacGregor between Cambridge and Holcombe as Braeswood.

6) But if we don't want to close MacGregor on expense issues (FWIW, there is a pedestrian underpass), it still doesn't matter for our other plans.

7) Extend Concert Trail to Hermann Drive. What's north of that will become new surface lots. The old surface lots become a zoo expansion, and what's south of that is developed as park space, mostly open lawns and a dog park. Perhaps even a municipal pool. It's a ton of space, and it could be better utilized.

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  • 3 years later...

A construction photo of Houston Zoo's forthcoming Texas Wetlands exhibit, from Saturday, 3/24/18:
 

IMG_5108.JPG

 

 

^Cypress Circle cafe has been gutted...  Will be neat to see how this structure will be re-imagined again.

Edited by txtiger
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  • 4 months later...
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Gee icky...are the animals and/or plants not represented accurately.  Is it because most Texas Wetland's don't have a café attached to them or stabilized shorelines.  Or, is it the TMC looming large over the background.   What's the issue and what were you expecting?  I haven't yet seen it, I'd like to know. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

@Urbannizer @Triton and other mods. With how wide spread and significant the renovations are to the Houston Zoo and how big the zoo is to the city, don't y'all think this should be part of some kind of Houston Zoo super thread and placed on "Going Up" in similar vain to my reason for putting the Rothko Renovations/Campus on "Going Up". Thoughts?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looks like the Avian Conservation Center could be starting soon.

 

This was from HBJ:

 

Quote
Tellepsen Builders commercial construction 6200 Hermann Park Dr. #BA-G Houston 77030 Houston Zoo (bird aviary-holding area and aviary)   300000 2019-07-11 City of Houston Commercial

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The new Texas Wetlands exhibit opened earlier this year at the Houston Zoo...  (May be worth an Admin merging that 'Wetlands' exhibit thread into this one, somehow.)

 

Found some high-res images of the forthcoming 'South America's Pantanal' (opening next year) and 'Galapagos Islands' exhibits (opening in 2022) at a designer's website.  Scroll down a bit, here, for those:

http://www.studio-hansonroberts.com/on-the-boards

 

 

 

 

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I always thought it would be smart to make the golf course a 9 hole one and turn the other 9 holes into an expansion to the zoo they could have even built a nice pedestrian bridge over the road to connect the old part of the zoo to the new.

Edited by cougarpad
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19 minutes ago, cougarpad said:

I always thought it would be smart to make the golf course a 9 hole one and turn the other 9 holes into an expansion to the zoo they could have even built a nice pedestrian bridge over the road to connect the old part of the zoo to the new.

The golf course doesn't bring in more revenue to the park then the zoo does. Plus you can make more open habitats for the African animals.

Edited by cougarpad
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7 hours ago, Toopicky said:

 

Love the idea, Cougarpad ...golf has been over emphasized in CoH parks with the end result being  to crowd much larger numbers of park goers into a small fraction of the overall park area. I would hate to think the Park Board members emphasize THOSE activities that they themselves prefer to use rather than what the majority of taxpayers actually use.

The golf course at Hermann Park has been there since the 1920's, as long as the Zoo has existed. It isn't crowding out anyone, and is popular, especially with folks who can't afford the higher end courses.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On ‚Äé8‚Äé/‚Äé16‚Äé/‚Äé2019 at 8:22 PM, Ross said:

The golf course at Hermann Park has been there since the 1920's, as long as the Zoo has existed. It isn't crowding out anyone, and is popular, especially with folks who can't afford the higher end courses.

 

I didn't know you were so into historic preservation. I say let the market determine things. The zoo gets 2.5 million visitors a year and is crowded onto 55 acres. How many visitors does the golf course get?

 

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6 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Underground garages in a large park would attract undesirables and would not appeal to many visitors.

 

How many underground garages have you heard of this problem? Most underground garages have private security guards. I've even been to the downtown public library, the mecca of homeless people wandering, and I've never seen one of them down there or heard of any problems in the underground parking garage there.

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8 hours ago, Triton said:

How many underground garages have you heard of this problem? Most underground garages have private security guards. I've even been to the downtown public library, the mecca of homeless people wandering, and I've never seen one of them down there or heard of any problems in the underground parking garage there.

 

How many underground garages have you heard of in large parks? Your second sentence answers your first. If this problem did not exist, then garages would not need to hire private security guards. Private security is expensive and is not undertaken unless necessary. Downtown library is forced to go this route by their small land size.

 

I should note that "undesirables" in my earlier comment did not primarily mean "homeless." I am generally a pro-homeless person. 

 

I am also pro-underground garage (in high density, high traffic areas), fwiw.

 

Edited by H-Town Man
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1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I imagine they would, in the long term if not the short term. They are on the small side for zoos. 

 

If so, one would think they would let that be known to the people in charge of Hermann Park master planning.  There is no hint of any desire to expand the Zoo in the Hermann Park Master Plan, and there doesn't seem to be anything about expansion in the Zoo's own 20-year master plan.

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  • The title was changed to Houston Zoo

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