ULI News

The Junior League ballroom was filled to capacity today, as a ULI Houston expert panel presented findings and recommendations of their study "Making the case for urban green space in southeastern Downtown." The expert panel, study and report were funded in part by a grant from the ULI Foundation, and produced a collaboration between veteran real estate industry professionals, Downtown civic leaders, graduate real estate students and faculty at Texas A&M University, Central Houston, Inc., and corporate ULI Urban Innovation Grant Partners, AECOM, Griffin Partners, HFF, HOK, TBG Partners, and the ULI Houston District Council.

Key recommendations for redeveloping the 64-block study area bounded by Clay St. to the north, Milam to the west, I45 / Pierce St. to the south and US 59 to the east included:

  • A strong placemaking and branding initiative to give this nondescript area more identity.
  • New Urban green space, as an amenity for residents and to generate additional activity.

1. at Days Inn property, as a holding strategy for eventual redevelopment

2. immediately south of the Co-Cathedral

3. on the eastside of the Study Area.

  • Linking new parks with Downtown activity areas with “greenways”--complete streets with enhanced landscaping, focusing initially on:

    Leeland Street
    LaBranch Street
    St. Joseph Parkway

  • Open the Downtown tunnel with a visual connection to the new Leeland Greenway.
  • Connections to “shoulder neighborhoods” in EaDo, and Midtown create design opportunities to overcome the barriers posed by elevated freeways.

But, the panel cautioned that new urban parks and green spaces by themselves, are not enough.

  • Good design, management, and more residential development are needed to activate parks and fuel additional retail development.
  • Focus the residential development program east of Jackson Street, South of Leeland Street.
  • Capitalize upon the Downtown Living Initiative Chapter 380 Incentives in this area.

Finally, the panel expressed a sense of urgency. The building blocks for successful redevelopment are already in place with previous Downtown redevelopment successes at Discovery Green, the expansion and new construction around the Downtown convention center, new investment  and population growth in surrounding "shoulder neighborhoods," the favorable economic climate, and the limited time to receive Downtown Living Initiative Chapter 380 incentives for qualifying residential developments.

ULI thanks each of the panelists for generously donating time, experience and insight:

Panel Chair, Dennis Jerke
Adjunct Professor, College of Architecture
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas

Panelists:
Keiji Asakura    
Principal, Asakura Robinson Company  

Lance Gilliam   
Managing Partner, UCR 

Theola Petteway
Executive Director, OST/Almeda Corridors
Redevelopment Authority – TIRZ #7   

Fred Griffin
Chairman, Griffin Partners, Inc.  

Rudy Rasmus
Co-Pastor, St. John’s United Methodist Church

Wally Reid
Senior Managing Director – Houston  Co-Office Head, HFF

Listen to coverage of the study on KUHF Radio now

And read the story in the Houston Chronicle Business Section here.

You can view the complete ULI Technical Assistance Panel presentation:

 

 

The full report of findings and recommendations is available for download by clicking  here

Or read the report online now: