Houston Apartment Construction Starts Slow; Adding Up the Floods’ Economic Impact


Photo of Buffalo Bayou’s Rosemont Bridge: Christopher Hysinger via Swamplot Flickr Pool


18 Comment

  • RE: Rail lines

    My office is located near Palm Transit Center on the Purple Line, so I have been taking the train on days when I don’t have any off-site appointments. Each time, I have been one of four or 5 people (max) on the line. I realize I have a “reverse commute,” so I try to look in the northbound trains, but they’re pretty much empty too.

    It’s really unfortunate. I want these lines to be successful, but looking at ridership, it’s pretty apparent that pushing the Purple and Green lines instead of the Blue was a mistake. Ridership may increase as the area develops though.

  • Mass transit is not only designed to take people where they want to go, but also where the powers-that-be want development to occur. So indeed it may take awhile, but it’s worth noting that both TSU and UH are in light summer sessions just now. Wait until August, when fall classes begin.

  • You can see the appearance of hired spinners standing around intersections serve as literal signs of the apartment shock.in the Energy Corridor. All of these projects broke ground as “luxury” but they’re all not going to stay that way.

  • If METRO spent this wasted rail money on oh, say, fixing the potholes created by its buses, the average Houstonian might actually save some money by having less car repairs. Instead, now Rusk is almost as undriveable as Main street, and I cannot wait for the epic showdown between the JW Marriott and Metro for all the traffic snarls that have been created at the intersection of Rusk and Main. Also having mounted police stationed there to try to stop workers from jay walking instead of waiting indefinitely at nonsensical lights seems like a great use of city resources…

  • @ Drew C: Undoubtedly the fact that the universities are out for summer has a dampening effect on ridership on the Purple Line. That said, I have long questioned the wisdom of METRO spending its capital $ on high-capacity transit in low-density areas, like the Green line in particular, rather than finding ways to improve frequency and speed in higher density areas that would have more immediate ridership benefits, like the west half of the urban core.

    Basically the success of the Purple and Green lines will depend upon the amount of denser development that happens along them – essentially meaning gentrification. At this point, it is what it is.

  • It was easy to predict that the Green and Purple lines would initially have scant ridership; they serve areas that are pretty quiet other than some students and the occasional soccer match. However, gentrification and densification are happening and eventually they’ll run to Hobby or further so having them installed will end up being a very good thing decades from now.

    But for now, they’re just well-groomed buses.

  • I imagine ridership on the lines will be pretty light until the bus routes that tie into them are restructured on August 16th. Right now, everybody still has a single-seat bus ride into downtown, hence no need to use the train.

    I’m also curious to see if UH and TSU students will actually use the train. We won’t know that until September.

  • RE: Rail lines
    Can anyone answer why the Green and Purple Lines were prioritized instead of the Blue and Gold Line? I get that they had less opposition, but the Blue Line should have been pushed in any form, even going it alone like they had to do with the red line and hope to get refunded with federal money later on.

  • yeah, 2 weeks in on these rail lines, it’s too soon to draw any conclusions. Purple line will benefit from colleges being open (and football at those campuses).
    Green will benefit once they build the overpass.
    otherwise, we’re waiting for more density.
    I am curious how the extension of the red line north performed compared to how it was predicted to perform weeks after opening. I took a ride on it back in March and it wasn’t much better (10 people on a train rather than 5).

  • I was at the Rice last night and you can feel the vibrations in the building every time the train passes. I imagine dozens of times a day, year after year, noticeable vibration would cause undue stress and damage to the structures immediately adjacent to the rail line. I wonder if Metro would be liable for some future inevitable damage they cause.

  • Some of you have asked why no rails built west where there is more density. This is a direct result of Culberson representing primarily cinco/katy area with a long extending leg that includes the Montrose/River Oaks corridor. He finally agreed to it going up to a vote a few weeks ago. The Afton Oaks area also put up a large fight.

  • More stray currents.

  • Re: Mattress stores helping the flood victims. I was thinking about this yesterday – maybe the influx of mattress stores is a modern-day, Houston-version of the plagues of Egypt. First came the mattress stores, then the rain, then what??

  • In general though, wasn’t the blue line just exponentially more expensive due to the higher price land grabs involved and running through a denser corridor? It seemed that there was also going to be substantially more legal costs and long term fights involved preventing it from ever being a quick shovel ready project. Understood the afton folks were unhappy, but I recall there being even further disapproval from the small business owners along Richmond. Not sure whatever happened with the argument that Houstonians never actually voted to put the rail on Richmond either, but could also see that having to be played out in court by interested parties.
    Regarding the land transaction costs that would be involved, have these already been locked in by Metro or can they only purchase the properties once approval of the line is granted? Seems like the cost would’ve grown quite a bit now that we’re at the peak of a property market cycle as well.
    commonsense, even if they did impact studies to calculate the fatigue of the train, any owners would still have the burden of proof on them. It’s going to be difficult to say that the train alone caused x amount of fatigue damage and be able to divorce it from any other fatigue factors such as buses, floods, general traffic, street infrastructure construction and etc.

  • I’m not surprised nor disappointed that ridership levels are low. It’s naive to think that you open a new line and it magically becomes busy over night. People have routines. They don’t change very easily or quickly. Give it several months before making any judgments. If we’re expecting lots of students to use it, now is the wrong time to be looking for them.

  • As an Inner Loop resident and worker, I don’t have much use for the train. I actually live about 2 blocks from a stop and would be within 3 blocks of my workplace – but I see no compelling reason to take it. My car takes less time than the hassle of walking in the heat to the stop and riding the s-l-o-w train.
    As a lark, I tried out the train and found its pokey pace maddening – and I wasn’t even trying to be anywhere on time. The roaming mobs of homeless downtown was the non-tasty icing on the cake.
    If METRO wanted to lure me to use public transit, they should invent METRO Magic Carpets that fly in the sky. Seriously, mass transit needs to be FAST to compete with private cars.

  • So what’s the story on the Red Line north of UHD? Is there not much development for the same reason there was little Midtown development for several years – the land is simply too expensive and landowners are preferring to wait it out?

  • I have walked from the farmers market at City Hall at the same time a Green/Purple train was leaving the Theatre District station, and beat it to Main Street. That is how slow this train is.