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  #21  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 4:40 PM
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This article is a bit silly. What's different about Houston is these dense employment centers came about in spite of top down planning. Uptown, Greenway Plaza, and Texas Medical Center are rather large employment centers, even by sunbelt standards. However, the most unique thing is these centers (except TMC) were built over night in the 80s during the boom and have been trying to figure out how to become truly urban since. I think Houston is finding a better public-private balance as of late.
     
     
  #22  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 4:41 PM
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Originally Posted by inSaeculaSaeculorum View Post
mhays lives in bellevue, WA iirc
It's an awesome place and I would agree with mhays that it's more urban.
     
     
  #23  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 5:02 PM
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This article is a bit silly. What's different about Houston is these dense employment centers came about in spite of top down planning. Uptown, Greenway Plaza, and Texas Medical Center are rather large employment centers, even by sunbelt standards. However, the most unique thing is these centers (except TMC) were built over night in the 80s during the boom and have been trying to figure out how to become truly urban since. I think Houston is finding a better public-private balance as of late.
Agreed. To me, with all the new public parks, greenbelts, infill, increasing light rail (though not nearly enough), ethnic diversity, and highrises, the momentum is going in a positive direction. It's still a big work in progress but there's a lot of excitement about the changes. I'm not saying there aren't problems; just saying it's nice to see good things happening.
     
     
  #24  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 6:15 PM
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Every time I dig into a new Houston highrise it has an "entry drive".
Can you tell me where in Houston you have seen this? I've never seen this in Houston and I'm not being critical, I would like to see where it is.

Also, if you read the article it says "wouldn't fly in any city but Houston" not "wouldn't be built anywhere but Houston". It is very hard to have an architectural style entirely found only in one city, if not impossible. I think the article is just saying there isn't much pushback or difficulty building these things in Houston.
     
     
  #25  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 6:38 PM
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Houston a place with no zoning.
Miami a place where zoning doesn't matter.

Contrast and compare.
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  #26  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 9:06 PM
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I usually always defend Houston, as it has many many many haters. I will still defend its incredible urban growth, its overall economy, and its lack of urban planning.

However....


If you look at Houston from above on Googlemaps, you might think " wow, this place is pretty dense in areas, quite a few areas in fact." However, I have been to Houston and google Streetview it all the time. Once you look at the street level, that density seems to matter less and less. The city has in fact been building multitudes of density all around the city. But this density hasn't been, over the whole of the city, converted into an urban environment which we(since this is SSP) probably all would prefer over suburbia or suburban-like development.

So I'll still defend Houston and everything awesome about it, but I think the newer developments need more connectivity with the streets. Density for sake of density doesn't always equal *awesome*. It wouldn't take much to convert Houston to a more urban environment. The city could build sidewalks and improve street-appearances. Developers could simply add retail at the bottom, townhouses could be built with less focus on the garage etc etc.
     
     
  #27  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 9:18 PM
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We are urbanizing fast but we are a big city. It will be a long long time before we are fully urban. Also, many US cities have had nearly a hundred years (since we never started getting big until the 20th century) ahead of us.

However, when it comes to sprawling sunbelt cities. Houston and Los Angeles are urbanizing the most.
     
     
  #28  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 9:45 PM
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Originally Posted by jtown,man View Post
I usually always defend Houston, as it has many many many haters. I will still defend its incredible urban growth, its overall economy, and its lack of urban planning.

However....


If you look at Houston from above on Googlemaps, you might think " wow, this place is pretty dense in areas, quite a few areas in fact." However, I have been to Houston and google Streetview it all the time. Once you look at the street level, that density seems to matter less and less. The city has in fact been building multitudes of density all around the city. But this density hasn't been, over the whole of the city, converted into an urban environment which we(since this is SSP) probably all would prefer over suburbia or suburban-like development.

So I'll still defend Houston and everything awesome about it, but I think the newer developments need more connectivity with the streets. Density for sake of density doesn't always equal *awesome*. It wouldn't take much to convert Houston to a more urban environment. The city could build sidewalks and improve street-appearances. Developers could simply add retail at the bottom, townhouses could be built with less focus on the garage etc etc.
Hmm....I thought I had been seeing some new developments with retail at the bottom, but those who live there will have a better handle on that than I will. It certainly needs to take off and be the rule rather than exception. I know I've been seeing townhouses with no garages in front. Whether it's a trend or not, I don't know. Doesn't bother me one way or the other. Regarding street appearance, I've seen a lot of street landscaping in Houston. Lots of flowers, palms, other landscaping on the medians. I understand that some of the landscaping is financed by corporate dollars. I think Uptown's landscaping along Post Oak is a good example. Certainly not all streets by any means have been landscaped, but there's been excellent progress. Many U.S. cities have no landscaping at all along right of ways.

There was a well publicized initiative from the mayor last fall (it was discussed in SSP) regarding more "complete" streets that would not just be focused on automobiles. A great deal of work needs to be done in that regard, but it's another example where Houston leadership and citizens are getting on the stick and transforming the city in a positive way.

Hope you don't mind my asking, but I don't know where you're located. A lot of members don't show their location in their profiles (unless I missed yours). Thanks...appreciate it, and thanks for bringing up these important and very valid issues.
     
     
  #29  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 10:17 PM
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I went to the stopashbyhighrise.org site and they have archives going back to 2007! That developer is seriously patient. What is the update on that thing? I have to run but if anyone has renderings I would love to see them. 7 year battle wow.
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  #30  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 10:21 PM
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Ashby High Rise will be built but the neighbors will be financially compensated.
     
     
  #31  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 10:48 PM
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Ashby High Rise


Swamplot.com
     
     
  #32  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2014, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by AviationGuy View Post
You mention your local suburban downtowns...where are you located? J Not disputing what you're saying at all...just want to know. Thanks.
Seattle area.

Bellevue is the largest suburban downtown. Since the late 80s the majority of new parking has been below grade, and buildings have happened on smaller lots. Towers tend to go straight up from the sidewalks.

Likewise in lowrise suburban downtowns like Kirkland, Redmond, and many others, six-story apartments are common, and their parking is usually below-grade too.
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  #33  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2014, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Seattle area.

Bellevue is the largest suburban downtown. Since the late 80s the majority of new parking has been below grade, and buildings have happened on smaller lots. Towers tend to go straight up from the sidewalks.

Likewise in lowrise suburban downtowns like Kirkland, Redmond, and many others, six-story apartments are common, and their parking is usually below-grade too.
Sounds really great. Would love to actually visit. I've been to Seattle itself several times, but not Bellevue. Have just seen it from the air flying in.
     
     
  #34  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2014, 1:58 AM
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Originally Posted by AviationGuy View Post
Hmm....I thought I had been seeing some new developments with retail at the bottom, but those who live there will have a better handle on that than I will. It certainly needs to take off and be the rule rather than exception. I know I've been seeing townhouses with no garages in front. Whether it's a trend or not, I don't know. Doesn't bother me one way or the other. Regarding street appearance, I've seen a lot of street landscaping in Houston. Lots of flowers, palms, other landscaping on the medians. I understand that some of the landscaping is financed by corporate dollars. I think Uptown's landscaping along Post Oak is a good example. Certainly not all streets by any means have been landscaped, but there's been excellent progress. Many U.S. cities have no landscaping at all along right of ways.

There was a well publicized initiative from the mayor last fall (it was discussed in SSP) regarding more "complete" streets that would not just be focused on automobiles. A great deal of work needs to be done in that regard, but it's another example where Houston leadership and citizens are getting on the stick and transforming the city in a positive way.

Hope you don't mind my asking, but I don't know where you're located. A lot of members don't show their location in their profiles (unless I missed yours). Thanks...appreciate it, and thanks for bringing up these important and very valid issues.
No problem, I live in Austin. Moved here last summer. Yeah, I'll be the first to admit my knowledge of Houston is limited, which was showcased when I brought up "streetviewing" as one of my experiences with Houston lol I support all Texas cities and love whats going on in Dallas and Houston as far as increasing their urban environment.
     
     
  #35  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2014, 2:26 AM
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Sounds really great. Would love to actually visit. I've been to Seattle itself several times, but not Bellevue. Have just seen it from the air flying in.
It's taking a series of booms to transition from its 1970 version to its final form over maybe 500 acres. The late 80s and late 90s had sizeable contributions. The 2006 version was epic. Another is well underway and is supposed to reach "epic" status this summer. But still it'll need one more to be a cohesively urban place. And light rail is supposed to arrive in 2021, including a short tunnel through Downtown. It's a fascinating transformation to watch, but no hurry in seeing the "final" product.
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  #36  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2014, 3:39 PM
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In most major areas in the US and Canada, there are separate cities with their own "downtowns."

For example, if you travel into the coastal hills around LA and look down at the metro-area, there must be 10 or more mini-downtowns, connected by freeways (you may need a pair of binoculars and a good wind to keep the sky clear).

Houston is unique in one respect- within the city limits of a huge city there has been almost no zoning during the period of freeway building.

Even more remarkable, though, is that Houston has maintained this practice through times when urban violence and integration caused unincorporated suburban fringes around the US to become municipalities to localize any forced busing. In fact, the city limits continued to expand.
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  #37  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2014, 7:28 PM
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My impression while reading the article is that it's emphasizing the culture of the city with new projects. We've voted down zoning 2 maybe 3(?) times and I don't see that changing anytime soon. It keeps property taxes low and the city developing in on organic fashion. Our 5 centers developed on their own, and yes, they need to be connected better with light rail, but Metro has met NIMBYs on that front, so it's kinda on hold. In the meantime we're working on restructuring our bus system and Uptown is looking into BRT. Mind yall, this is HOUSTON, not a Midwest or a Northeastern city. If we were to be as dense to please urbanists, my goodness I think our population would have to be 8 million inside the city limits, and idk, 15 million metro? I'll pass. (yes I'm just guesstimating those numbers). But the fact we don't have zoning is what I love about this city. You never know what is coming up, or down for that matter. It's constantly changing and I find humor in the juxtaposition of certain businesses and residences. We're Houston, we pride ourselves on our quirky city that most people don't understand and are always ready to show visitors around! Mayors White and Parker have done a fantastic job moving and developing this city in the right direction and I hope we continue to move full steam ahead. We're obviously doing something right!!
     
     
  #38  
Old Posted Mar 16, 2014, 6:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Wizened Variations View Post
In most major areas in the US and Canada, there are separate cities with their own "downtowns."

For example, if you travel into the coastal hills around LA and look down at the metro-area, there must be 10 or more mini-downtowns, connected by freeways (you may need a pair of binoculars and a good wind to keep the sky clear).

Houston is unique in one respect- within the city limits of a huge city there has been almost no zoning during the period of freeway building.

Even more remarkable, though, is that Houston has maintained this practice through times when urban violence and integration caused unincorporated suburban fringes around the US to become municipalities to localize any forced busing. In fact, the city limits continued to expand.
This.
     
     
  #39  
Old Posted Mar 16, 2014, 2:15 PM
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dBut the fact we don't have zoning is what I love about this city. You never know what is coming up, or down for that matter.
You realize you're the third person in this thread to mention in the same post that you wish the transportation planning was better, while noting that you never know what's coming next in Houston? You realize also, don't you, that those two things are related? There is no way to plan transportation effectively if you have no way to predict what land use is coming next.

Not saying that is a bad thing necessarily. Just that you guys will always be reactionary when it comes to transportation. In particular, public transportation. I would go so far as to argue that a lack of planning is inherently incompatible with transit, which relies on predictable clusters of density to be effective.

Or, alternatively, it relies on a very powerful government and a lot of money to come cram it in after the density is built up. Since that doesn't really happen in the US, if only because there isn't the money for it, I would say that fixed route transit Houston is a lost cause - a waste of your time and money. Focus on buses.
     
     
  #40  
Old Posted Mar 16, 2014, 4:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bunt_q View Post
You realize you're the third person in this thread to mention in the same post that you wish the transportation planning was better, while noting that you never know what's coming next in Houston? You realize also, don't you, that those two things are related? There is no way to plan transportation effectively if you have no way to predict what land use is coming next.

Not saying that is a bad thing necessarily. Just that you guys will always be reactionary when it comes to transportation. In particular, public transportation. I would go so far as to argue that a lack of planning is inherently incompatible with transit, which relies on predictable clusters of density to be effective.

Or, alternatively, it relies on a very powerful government and a lot of money to come cram it in after the density is built up. Since that doesn't really happen in the US, if only because there isn't the money for it, I would say that fixed route transit Houston is a lost cause - a waste of your time and money. Focus on buses.
From what I understand, though, the light rail lines have been successful, giving people an alternative at least. It needs to be a combination of types of mass transit.
     
     
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