How That Old-Time Way-Out Houston Strip Center Spirit Might Yet Tame a Mild Row of East Downtown Townhomes

2600 Block of Capitol St. with Signs from Veterans Memorial Dr., Houston

If you were wondering how a street-facing block of neat-in-a-row East Downtown townhomes might appear after being taken over by the opportunistic spirit exemplified by a bunch of north Houston strip-center businesses, rest your aching brain: Artist Carrie Marie Schneider has already done some of that hard a-visualizing work for you. Her mashup above combines signs from independent businesses along Veterans Memorial Dr. (the stretch between I-45 and Richey Rd.) with a row of recent townhomes on the 2600 block of Capitol St., between Live Oak and Nagle. The image, a projection of which constitutes a small part of her recently opened exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum, is one way to imagine a “real free-enterprise” conquest of more corporate-seeming block-by-block townhome developments. Blocks like the one pictured under all that signage “once seemed uncanny in Houston for their enforced coherence,” she writes in OffCite. “Now they’re difficult not to encounter.”

Image: Carrie Marie Schneider

Mixed Use Mashup

11 Comment

  • The same thing that eventually happened to West Gray, West Alabama and other streets out west will happen on the East side and elsewhere with the townhouses. One near me on the East End converted into a tacky tax service/used car lot within a year or two of being built. I suppose one person’s tacky, crappy and disorganized is another’s vibrant, urban and colorful.

  • Businesses need places for their employees and customers to park. Until driverless Uber cars replace privately owned vehicles, something like this will never happen.

  • Wow. Houston can one day strongly resemble one of the shitty areas of London.

  • I SO love this.
    This is exactly the trajectory to expect.
    Exclusive, refined and current areas move around over time… (how else would developers make any money??)
    But the population keeps growing and the citizens need their dry clearing, tire repairs and tortillas!
    Parking Rules, schmarking rules.
    All the regular folks will probably be on bicycles anyway

  • I love it. It reminds me of the apartment complexes on Bellaire near the Beltway that have been turned into little Chinese strip malls, or the various mixed-use complexes in the Hillcroft/Bissonnet/Gulfton area.

  • This really happened on West Bellfort across from what once was Westbury Square. Townhome style apartments became cheap businesses….looked just as tacky as artist Schnieder depicts!

  • Makes it look like a city without zoning.

  • @MarkH: But mixed use ground floor retail!

  • There are a surprising number of fee simple townhomes, so it’s not impossiible that something like this could come about. But the surprising number still isn’t very many, and besides which, it’s too easy to imagine that the neighborhood would band together and lobby the city to become a historic district or otherwise to gain some sort of status that would protect it from becoming interesting or diverse or useful. As the Republic of the Heights has taught us, homeowners like it staid, boring, cliched, antiseptic, and fascistic.

  • This is what a lot of southwest Houston around behind Sharpstown looked like in the 90s, and other than the original driveways(and front yards) there was no “parking” so to speak at the converted duplexes and apartment complexes. Lots of gypsy fortune tellers, fingernail/hair salons, day cares, tax preparations and other small businesses. Very entrepreneurial immigrant spirit.

  • Well, damned if that doesn’t look like Connecticut Ave. north of Dupont Circle in DC.