11/08/16 1:30pm

Hardy Yards, Near Northside, Houston, 77026

Not many signs of the buildings yet — but Chris Andrews notes the new benches, sidewalks, and railyard-themed signage recently installed in the formerly-a-railyard Hardy Yards site, along some initial roadways laid out for that planned mixed-use redevelopment complex. The signage above, complete with what appear to be segments of decorative rail track, is at the corner of now-extended Chapman and Leona streets.  Here’s a look at a new industrial-chic bike rack installed nearby, with a bonus glimpse of a few of the warehouses along parallel-ish Burnett St. visible to the north:

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Tracking Near Northside
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:

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Metered Park(ing)
07/21/16 10:45am

Thornsen Streetlab Silver St. Redo

In the small but growing city tradition of redoing street plans in your spare time, urban planner and general Houston improvement brainstormer Jesse Thornsen has recently launched a website to showcase weekly ideas for making bits the local streetscape easier to navigate (by bike, foot, car, or other means). This morning’s addition: how to smooth out the westward jog in Silver St. as it crosses Dart St. The spot (shown in the above left-to-right conceptual before and after) is southeast of Annex Houston automobile storage and the Silver Street Studios complex; not quite due west lies the Shops at Sawyer Yards warehouse retail redevelopment.

Thornsen’s plan adds sidewalks and a landscaped median (to discourage vehicles from taking the most direct route straight through the jagged intersection). Thornsen points out that the section is designated for both bikes and cars by the Houston Bike Plan; his redo includes bike lanes, including a queuing spot big enough for multiple cyclists to cozy up together as they wait to turn north. Here’s a close up and a cross section:

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Squaring Up in First Ward
04/12/16 5:15pm

Proposed street work, Fourth Ward, Houston, 77006

The presentation slides from last week’s meeting about the street and infrastructure work planned for Fourth Ward between W. Gray and Welch streets are now online — you have until May 6th to email the city about it, if you feel like doing so. The green lines show areas where 50-ft.-plus cross-sections are planned, with anywhere from 7 to 22 ft. of pedestrian space (mostly running 12-to-17 ft., in the not-to-scale drawings). Streets marked in light blue would range from 33 to 36 ft. wide, including only 1 sidewalk and a 2-ft. easement on the opposite side; areas marked in dark purple would also get 1 sidewalk, but both vehicle and pedestrian lanes would be several feet narrower (27 to 30 ft. in total).

The work skirts the southern edge of the not-quite-rectangular Freedmen’s Town National Historic District, which runs north-to-south roughly from W. Gray to W. Dallas St., and east-to-west from Gennessee St. as far west as Arthur St. in some places. Planned street and infrastructure work in that area is currently on hold due to the ongoing court case over preserving the remnants of brick roadways in the district, along parts of Wilson and Andrews streets. 

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Hitting the Streets
03/31/16 4:00pm

Dallas St. Improvements complete, Downtown, Houston, 77002

Beating the basketball crowds headed to Houston this weekend, the Downtown section of Dallas St. that’s been getting done over looks to be pretty much finished and ready for action. A reader took some shots looking both ways in front of the south entrance to the Four Seasons between Caroline and Austin streets — up top is the eastern view down Dallas, gazing toward the George R. Brown Convention Center and the catty-corner staredown between Hilton Americas and Embassy Suites from either side of Crawford. The new trees seem to line up with the spacing plans shown in the previously released project plans, which included knocking out a driving lane on the north side and turning it into parking (as the vehicles above are politely demonstrating).

Here’s the Four Seasons again from other direction — this time looking west toward Houston Center, with the First City Tower rising out of the frame on the right:

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Traveling Downtown
02/08/16 12:00pm

New Signal at Dunlavy St. and Allen Pkwy., Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston, 77019

The metal arm of a future traffic signal is now reaching out of the ground across a few westbound lanes of Allen Pkwy. at the intersection with Dunlavy St. The new crosswalk will protect foot traffic on the way to bayou-side party-venue The Dunlavy and to the Adath Yeshurun Cemetery next door.

The stoplight fits into the larger plans to revamp Allen Pkwy., in part intending to dial down the road’s speeds from not-quite-freeway to next-to-a-park levels. The redo also aims to make it simpler for both cars and people trying to make their way to all the new park infrastructure and improvements along Buffalo Bayou.

A drawing from early last year shows the plan view of the finished intersection at Dunlavy:

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Crossing Over
12/02/15 3:15pm

MAYOR PARKER CLEARS UP RICHMOND AVE SHELL STATION SELF STORAGE TREE REMOVAL MYSTERY Street Oak Tree Stump, 1810 Richmond Ave., Montrose, HoustonStumped by the sudden disappearance of 4 or 5 large oak trees in the city easement fronting a vacant lot adjacent to the recently demolished Shell station at 1810 Richmond Ave, between Hazard and Woodhead? They were chopped down last week, in advance of a new Montrose Big Tex Self Storage facility soon to begin construction on the site. Mayor Parker is on the case, reassuring concerned street-tree watchers: The trees “were in bad health & posed safety threat,” she tweeted earlier today. “Fully permitted removal granted with plan to plant new trees.” [HAIF] Photo of Richmond Ave stump: Kyle Nielsen

06/02/15 1:30pm

Sinkhole, Hyde Park Blvd. at Mason St., Montrose, Houston

Sinkhole, Hyde Park Blvd. at Mason St., Montrose, Houston

Here are views of a couple of holes that appeared at the eastern edge of East Montrose after last week’s flood. The sizable tire-grabber at the corner of Hyde Park Blvd. and Mason St. shown here was decorated by nearby residents who repurposed the cones and barricade from a nearby construction site, explains reader Brittanie Shey.

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What Lies Beneath
05/14/15 4:30pm

Tree Cutting on Yale St. Between 5th and 6th Streets, Houston Heights

Landscape crews last week chopped down 16 live oak trees lining the west side of Yale St. just south of White Oak, along the eastern border of the second of Trammell Crow Residential’s Alexan Heights apartment complexes. A similar scene took place last year in front of the Alexan Heights north of White Oak and 6th St. (at right in the above photo).

A reader sent in pics of the recent street-tree sawfest:

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Chop ’n Plant
05/05/15 12:00pm

Replacement Oak Tree in Front of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The sixth and last of the replacement street trees was planted in the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. over the weekend. “It is a big specimen tree, taller than what was removed,” writes the reader who sent in these photos of the installation paid for by a special city fund for Houston parks — so we can all see for ourselves. The previous weekend, 5 replacement oaks were put in along the side street, North Blvd. Crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, had chopped down 6 trees on adjacent city property last October. You can compare the current scene in these photos and in our story last week with how it all looked before the chainsaws were fired up.

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Regrowth
04/30/15 1:00pm

New Trees at Wendy's Drive-Thru Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

New Trees at Wendy's Drive-Thru Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonA row of 5 already-growed-up oak trees took up their new home along the North Blvd. flank of the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. last weekend, to replace the same number along the public right-of-way that went missing after dark last Halloween on account of they were chopped into pieces by order of the franchise owner. “The new trees at Wendy’s are so big they had to close the road to install them,” writes the reader who sent in these photos. “. . . almost as big as the ones cut down.

One more tree is still to come — for this spot on Kirby Dr., right in front:

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Fast Landscaping
04/27/15 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY THEY WON’T BE LINING POST OAK BLVD. WITH POST OAKS Post Oak Forest“So close! Just imagine how impressive it would be to have a forest of 800 post oaks on Post Oak Blvd. Unfortunately, post oaks don’t tend to transplant well compared to live oaks, which is why we use live oaks in our landscaping instead of post oaks. (Source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Boxed Forest of 800 Trees in Tomball Preparing for March Down Post Oak Blvd.] Illustration: Lulu

04/24/15 1:00pm

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, Texas

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, TexasFor Arbor Day, the Uptown Houston District is showing off the 800 live oaks earmarked for Post Oak Blvd. now being trained in Tomball for a life on the streets. The tree reboxers and transplanters at Environmental Design are breeding the trees on the company’s Tomball campus at 23544 Coons Rd.

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Live Oaks Training for New Post
04/13/15 3:15pm

NEW INSTALLATION MARKS LOCATIONS OF KIRBY DR. WENDY’S OAKS WITH THICK YELLOW RIBBONS Protection for New Trees, Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonSpotted at the corner of North Blvd. and Kirby Dr., just north of Rice Village: 6 holes, 6 staked-off areas, and 6 fabric wraps around the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby. Is this another art installation in memory of the removed oaks? Naaah. Probably just the work of city crews, getting ready to plant their replacements. Expenditure of up to $300K for new live oaks — matching the amount paid by the franchise owner as part of a legal settlement for last year’s nighttime tree-hacking incident — was approved by city council back in February. Photo: Swamplot inbox