09/19/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW HOUSTON’S PARK(ING) PROPONENTS SHOULD TAKE IT TO THE STREETS Park(ing) Day 2016, 500 McKinney St., Downtown, Houston, 77002“While I understand, generally, the sentiment behind this initiative, I think in Houston it may be a little misguided. If we want a more walkable environment, with fewer buildings set back behind parking lots, we actually need more on-street parking spaces (to both accommodate business patrons arriving by car and help buffer pedestrians on the sidewalk), and fewer off-street ones.” [LocalPlanner, commenting on The SUV-Sized Parks Parked By City Hall Will Expire in About An HourPhoto of Park(ing) Day: Allyn West

09/16/16 2:00pm

Park(ing) Day 2016, 500 McKinney St., Downtown, Houston, 77002

What’s all this sitting by the meters on the 500 block of McKinney St. today? Allyn West sends over some shots of the parking-spot-sized pocket parks currently occupying a few of Downtown’s on-street spaces. And you, too, can sit there, but only if you hustle: The ephemeral parklets are open for communal use until about 3 PM as part of the annual Park(ing) Day affair, now in its 12th year of instigating fleeting streetscape conversions in hundreds of cities around the world.

One of this year’s parks has its very own ideologically-conflicted seesaw:


Metered Park(ing)
07/20/16 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT’S REALLY STALLING HOUSTON’S DRIVE FOR SMOG REDUCTION Transit Frustration” . . . The serious ways to improve air quality in Houston are 1) to pass California emission standards for all vehicles, and 2) to install traffic light road sensors at intersections. I can’t believe how long we sit at intersections with no one moving.” [KB, commenting on Building for Baby Boomers; Revamping the Briar Club in Upper KirbyIllustration: Lulu

06/28/16 11:45am

Rendering of Heights Mercantile Building 3, 3A

Experimental ice cream shop Cloud 10 Creamery looks to be collecting building permits for a space at 711 Heights Blvd., one of the 1920s bungalows prepping for a second career in retail (as shown above) as part of the Heights Mercantile development. The project, which straddles 7th St. and its bike trail companion between Yale St. and Heights Blvd., hit a potential snag last year when the city didn’t approve a variance request that would have lowered the number of required new parking spaces. But the updated site plan below shows the workaround — the Golden Eagle Binder & Tab Co.’s former spots at 717 and 724 Heights, which were purchased by the developers last May, are depicted as additional parking lots:


7th at Yale
06/27/16 12:15pm

COUNTY WANTS TO FILL IN THE ASTRODOME’S FLOOD LEVELS WITH PARKING AstrodomeThere are still no set plans for what will eventually happen to the Astrodome, but the county is already gearing up to work on the parking situation. Tomorrow the county commissioners court will look over an engineering report on plans to raise the main floor of the structure (which currently sits some 30 feet below the surrounding grade) and stick a 2-story 1,400-space parking garage beneath it. The meeting’s agenda indicates that approvals on specifics for the roughly $105 million plan won’t be put to a vote until September; a spokesman for county judge Ed Emmett also tells Mihir Zaveri that no construction would start until after the Super Bowl, regardless of approval. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

05/18/16 5:00pm

City of Houston parking ticket map by Jordan Poles

The above heatmap showing where city parking tickets are most frequently issued is one result of an in-progress project by biology major and urban data enthusiast Jordan Poles. Areas shaded red mark where the tickets fall heaviest, while green areas see a lighter citation rain. Grey areas are not ticket-free — rather, the colored regions represent notable clusters of ticket activity (including Downtown, Montrose, Fourth Ward, Midtown, the Museum District, and the Rice Village).


Fine Maps
03/18/16 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT ’THERE’S NOWHERE TO PARK’ REALLY MEANS Stuck in Parking Lot on 290“People would rather circle for hours for a spot that is 3 ft. from the door they wish to enter than to: A) pay to park B) walk. So please keep in mind, when someone says ‘there’s nowhere to park in the village’ what they mean is: There’s nowhere within 3 ft. of my destination to park. Of course, everyone knows where they can park, but the last thing they want to do is walk from their car to their destination.” [toasty, commenting on Shake Shack Will Take Over La Madeleine’s Rice Village Space] Illustration: Lulu

03/14/16 10:00am

Jefferson Davis Site Plan 2014, Quitman at Tackaberry St., Northside, Houston, 77009

Cast in projector blue above: a snapshot of renderings for the remodel of Jefferson Davis High School, which is planning to expand. The Northside school, one of 8 in HISD changing names to drop references to Confederate figures, is getting some shiny new teaching facilities, including upgraded spaces for its culinary arts and management students (as shown in the projection above). The campus on Quitman St. is also staking out new parking lot territory across Tackaberry St.

Hungry for the details? HISD is hosting a community meeting on April 7th at the school to talk design plans. Until then, here’s a preview of the planned new exterior for the performing arts space:


Northside Remake
02/23/16 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: TOP WITH ASPHALT, ADD PARKING STRIPES TO TASTE Parking Lot“Amazing how that works – we demolish houses and businesses next to schools to make way for parking, meaning there will be fewer homes and errand stops within walking distance of the school. Meanwhile, the Red Line is only a few blocks away, which could’ve meant fewer employees and students needing to drive there. So now we have HISD paying more money it doesn’t have on acquiring land and building parking infrastructure while simultaneously devaluing a public transit asset and decreasing the school’s user base in the area. Great recipe for success, here!” [Derek, commenting on Former Bakery Razed as Jefferson Davis Claims New Territory in Northside] Illustration: Lulu

02/17/16 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHERE TO GO TO AVOID A BAR FIGHT IN THE HEIGHTS Looming Townhomes“I remember well the battles between restaurants/bars and residents as the Montrose started to gentrify in the late 1990s. It never ceased to amaze me that someone would buy a pricey townhome right next to a long-established ice house, and then complain vociferously and try to run the business off. Mark my words, the Heights will reach that same tipping point, if it hasn’t already. As SuperDave said, those who fail to check out their prospective neighborhood at all times of day and night have only themselves to blame. But of course, they’d rather blame the business and try to turn the Heights into some ridiculous suburban ‘paradise.’ That’s what Katy is for, people!” [roadchick, commenting on Jilted Heights Post Office Spot To Move On as a New Mixed-Use Lowrise Complex] Illustration: Lulu

02/12/16 12:00pm

South elevation of proposed Vantage highrise, Post Oak Blvd. at San Felipe Rd., Uptown, Houston, 77056

This could someday be part of the north-bound view on Post Oak Blvd., if plans that have been filed for a new 40-story highrise tower from Dinerstein at the corner of Post Oak and San Felipe Rd. come to be. The Vantage tower, shown above in a south-side elevation by Gensler, would include 32 stories of apartments atop 2 floors of retail; 2 of the 7 parking levels would be tucked underground, below an amenities deck.

The tower is slated for the same spot as a previously proposed 50-story tower from AmREIT, which back in 2014 spurred the formation of a political action committee by residents of the next-door Cosmopolitan condo highrise directly behind the property. The committee claimed that opposition to the proposed tower had nothing to do with any potential blocking of the condo’s views — though the renderings of the AmREIT proposal did show a ghostly sketch of the Cosmopolitan lurking very close behind in the background:


Uptown Vantage Points
01/18/16 3:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW NATURAL SELECTION ELIMINATES HOUSTON PEDESTRIANS Illustration of Oversized Parking LotBiology has words to describe the relationship between parking and driving. ‘Arms race’ and ‘co-evolution’ fit pretty well. If you find a creature that has evolved to devote a lot of its energy to producing toxins, you’ll find some other creature that has evolved to survive those toxins — the two are in an arms race with each other, and have co-evolved these capabilities. One becomes a little more toxic, the other becomes a little more immune to that toxin. Other organisms can’t invade that relationship because they aren’t toxic enough or immune enough. From this perspective, large parking lots and heavy reliance on cars can be seen as Houston’s defense mechanism. Houston is immune to walkability because driving and parking have co-evolved to such extremes here. There’s no stable strategy to provide a path from where we are to where the new urbanists want to be.” [Memebag, commenting on Houston’s Pothole Progress; Reagan HS Name Staying for Now] Illustration: Lulu

12/18/15 2:45pm

96 SECONDS OF ANIMATED ARGUMENTS AGAINST MINIMUM PARKING REQUIREMENTS, ENDORSED BY A CANADIAN CITY COUNCIL Meanwhile, in Ottawa: Foes of minimum parking requirements, particularly those hoping to bring around their perennial Internet nemeses, are getting some animated ammunition from the U.S.’s neighbors to the north. The City of Ottawa is working on an overhaul of its zoning and parking by-laws, many of which date from as long ago as 1964; the city’s Planning and Growth Management department has released a 96-second video contending that high parking minimums rob neighborhoods of character and charm, encourage bigger buildings where smaller ones might do, hinder pedestrians and cyclists, and eat up space that could be used for other purposes. “Ottawa’s growing up — it’s time our parking rules did too. [City of Ottawa]

05/13/15 3:45pm

MENIL COLLECTION WINS SPECIAL APPROVAL FROM CITY OF HOUSTON TO PAVE LESS Planned Changes to Menil Collection, Showing Boundaries of Special Parking Area, Montrose, HoustonWith the approval granted by city council today, the 30-acre campus surrounding the Menil Collection now qualifies as Houston’s first-ever special parking area. The new status will allow the Menil to provide just 1.8 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. of gallery, bookstore, and classroom space within the district, rather than the 3 per 1,000 sq. ft. normally required under city ordinances. The rules would apply on the blocks bounded by W. Alabama, Mandell, Richmond, and Yupon and Graustark. A plan delineating these boundaries included in a parking study conducted for the Menil (above) shows — among other additions provided for in the institution’s new master plan — a new park on the middle portion of the site of the Richmont Square Apartments, immediately south of the Menil Drawing Institute, now under construction along an eastward extension of W. Main St. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Plan: Lockwood, Andrews, and Newnam (PDF) 

02/20/15 11:45am

NO PARKING VARIANCE FOR HEIGHTS MERCANTILE RETAIL REDO ON 7TH AND YALE Proposed Heights Mercantile Retail and Office Complex,  7th St. at Yale St., Houston HeightsDespite a recommendation from the planning department staff to allow the development to proceed with significantly fewer parking places than required by ordinance, the planning commission yesterday denied a parking variance for the proposed Heights Mercantile mixed-use building complex along 7th St. between Yale St. and Heights Blvd., the longtime site of a warehouse complex for the Pappas Restaurant group. The Finial Group, the project’s developers, had hoped to be allowed to count 58 existing head-in public parking spaces along 7th St., many of them fronting the MKT Hike and Bike Trail, toward the development’s off-street parking requirements. [Previously on SwamplotRendering of proposed new building along Yale St.: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture