August 25th, 2010
The Potential is Here
A drive through random parts of this city usually results in me making remarks along the lines of “this area has so much potential”. It doesn’t really matter what part of Houston I’m in, if I see a bunch of abandoned warehouses or empty fields, my mind immediately goes to what it could be. Call me an optimist, call me crazy, call me whatever you want, when I see abandoned anything, I see potential.
Houston has an interesting conundrum upon its doorstep, build up the inner loop area and devote money to rebuilding the infrastructure or continue the outward growth and hope freeway improvements hold the traffic. Again, there is potential here. Houston could draw in a slew of younger workers who want to live close to an urban center but such a move requires significant planning. The near East End has slowly started the transition, but it’s obvious that more thought is required.
One of the more popular new home types inside the loop is the townhome multiplex, which is essentially a complex of three or four townhomes that all share a common driveway. Home size drives the design and a lot of the construction has moved so quickly that the city has not had the time to rebuild or improve the existing infrastructure. A drive through parts of Rice Military make this apparent. Streets are too small to accommodate parking on both sides, yet there the cars sit. Then there’s the drainage. Between neighbors not being able to agree to have curbed streets and the city dragging its feet on improvements, the drainage in a lot of a areas flat out stinks. But, there is potential.
My hope for our city is growth that is economical, keeps some sense of history and ultimately, is usable. Chicago is probably the de facto model for growing urban spaces while keeping some sense of personal space. There are a lot of multi-family homes intermingled with single family houses. Of course parking is somewhat of an issue in Chicago, but Houston can do that differently. The big thing is taking space that has an abandoned warehouse on it and renovating it. I have spotted a few of these, the Chenevert Lofts downtown and the EaDo Lofts east of downtown (I hate the EaDo name). At the same time, there needs to be single family homes and green space spread between the multifamily structures. Multifamily homes spread in with single family homes helps to keep home prices affordable. As for green space, bike trails are great, as is Discovery Green, but little parks sprinkled within a community make it much more attractive.
All of this has a cost though. Some of these areas are not well policed and they would require more officers to keep them safe. It would require more city workers to rebuild infrastructure and the city would need even more funds for upkeep.
I see so much potential in areas just north and east of downtown and south of midtown. I just wish developers and the city would step up and make it work. I love our city and I would love to see it continually grow in a positive manner.
You tell me, Loopsters. Where do you see the growth in Houston happening? What needs to happen first for community and infrastructure improvement? Where do you see Houston in twenty years?