Texas City Buc-ee’s Opening Sooner Than Expected; The Rush To Destroy Rice’s Menil Legacy

mason park

Photo of Mason Park: Leonid Notax via Swamplot Flickr Pool


17 Comment

  • RE: The Heights. This site isn’t in the Heights.

    RE: The City of Houston Cease & Desist request. The people sending tens of thousands of e-mails do so voluntarily rather than being coerced in some sort of DDoS attack. That’s free speech; and it is a regular occurrence. Let it be.

    RE: Critical Mass. If there were only 10 citations then surely there were not enough police on hand.

    RE: “Many of the bands that soundtracked the ’90s for Houstonians were based, rehearsed, and/or coalesced on Lexington. It was the last time the city has had anything close to a cohesive music scene, and it was all thanks to cheap rents.” The Houston Press obviously does not employ black people. What’s with that?

  • Why not have a ‘little suburbia’ in the area? I mean, let’s stop fighting it and sail into the wind.
    Now I know I’m being a little tongue and cheek, but is there nothing more ‘Houston’ than to have a completely market driven transplant of the suburbs right next to downtown? We can even market it w/ such features as ‘the sidewalk to nowhere’ and the ‘stripmall, strip’. Maybe even use it to advertise Houston to the rest of the country: “Close to work with suburban sprawl; yes, you CAN have it all!” Heck, we’ll just reboot the Virginia slims campaign w/ big box stores and the skyline in the background!

  • Actually, the problem may be that the Heights is not suburban enough. La Centerra, Sugar Land Town Square, and The Wooldands’ Hughes Landing and Market St. all are light years ahead of the kind of the usual tilt wall/strip mall crap that is getting built in the Katyville corridor between Yale St., Washington Ave, I-10 and Taylor. And the irony is that the Heights area is dense enough that all the pedestrian friendly aspects of the suburban developments could actually be used by people coming to these developments by bike or foot (hike and bike access already exists to Sawyer). But in the burbs, everyone is spread out so much in their planned communities that no one dares to try to access the retail developments by any means other than car.

  • Rent Control is what has kept sections of NYC, L.A., San Francisco et.al from becoming what Montrose is becoming. It’s Ironic that the very thing that attracted people to the area in the first place is quickly being plowed under for row after row of bland townhomes. Montrose needs to get more active with Preservation, Avondale and Cortlandt Place aren’t enough, they need a Norhill kind of preservation, where blocks are protected, it could have saved what’s left of Lovett. It’s odd that Montrose of all places has been so slow on the draw with preservation, in guessing that it has to so with all the rental properties that permiated the area for so long, developers come in and offer these landlords the moon, the sell and it’s all torn down. Granted, it’s not to be lamented that some of the rougher complexes are gone, but the loss of the bungalows and mansions that really make the area unique is a shame. We’ve lost too much of Historic Montrose and the people who made it unique, let’s try to salvage what’s left before it ends up nothing but rows and rows townhomes that could be anywhere.

  • Some people call it the fall of Montrose, I call it the cleansing of Montrose, it’s finally becoming a place normal people and families can live, not just liberal college kids that never grew up. And the new people are coming in for location, not for the circus.

  • The Rice Faculty needs to get over it and focus on molding minds. The Menil’s had this building designed in one night and thrown up the next day, the university was stunned, this really was never what they wanted in terms of architecture, they’ve been trying to find a way to get rid of it ever since. I remember as a kid waking the campus with my friends and always thinking, who the f**k ok’d this pile of shit. As for all the gnashing of teeth as to what the great lady (Mrs De Menil) would have thought, I really think she would have not cared in the least, it served its purpose and it’s time for it to go, she was always about the next big idea, she focused on tomorrow now yesterday, so let’s let this building go in peace, I for one won’t miss it.

  • Glad to see ten Hypocritical Massholes got tickets for disobeying traffic laws. It isn’t a free-for-all and you shoot yourselves in the foot when you act that way.

  • Haha – yes that area is turning into suburbia – but what did you expect? There are other areas of the city that are much more urban, pedestrian friendly, and that have local culture and history, but the demographic that has recently taken over the Heights is scared of the crime, stigma, public schools, and vibe of those hoods. So they move where they feel comfortable and where the suburban vibe is alive and well.

  • The Heights is not dense. Instead, it seems they like to fight actual density. What the Heights has is a decent street grid, well-suited to accommodating density and helping to reach places on foot or bicycle if one so chooses.

    Physical preservation of older homes in a gentrifying area like Montrose does nothing to ensure that slummy low-rent places will continue to exist. Of course, there’s no justification for keeping some sort of artificially low rents anyway, just as there’s no justification for public policy to ensure a place for artists and bohemians (or any particular demographic) in any given area, regardless of its “heritage.” There’s plenty of low-rent neighborhoods in Houston – a number of them still inside the Loop – in which such folks can still choose to reside.

  • @Local Planner: I said “dense enough”. Compared to the planned communities in the burbs, the Heights is dense. And we are adding 700 units of multifamily on Yale and 250 on White Oak. The relevant “density” is having @80k people living within a bike ride of the redeveloping retail area, whereas the Woodlands has placed a large lake, a golf course and large lot high end neighborhood between the bulk of its residential population and their surprisingly walkable retail area making it almost impossible for even motivated people to go from the residential area to retail without a car. The Heights is actually designed to have and can greatly benefit from the kind of retail that is being built in the burbs and is getting, instead, the kind of retail that used to be built in the burbs. It just fully demonstrates that markets are only best at maximizing the interests of those holding the money and do little to move real estate to the highest and best use (or maybe “highest and best use” means nothing more than the preferred return and risk for the investor).

  • Let’s be realistic about Montrose and The Heights. What do you think these area were when they were built? Suburban type communities of the 1920s-40s. The only reason they are a polyglot now is from neighborhood deterioration. I have to agree w Local Planner on this one–there are plenty of cheaper areas inside the Loop that the angst ridden artist type crowd could live in–and probably even improve it as a result. Things change. It’s the only way the world works.

  • If Rice can find someone to help pay for the restoration and upkeep of the structure, I don’t understand why they would be motivated to destroy in order to replace with an open field?? I have never seen the building in-person, but sounds like it has plenty of significance to justify saving.

  • @OS: In terms of the market area population needed to support the types of commercial businesses found in places like CityCentre, Sugar Land Town Square, and The Woodlands Town Center, the population within reasonable walking and biking distance of locations in The Heights is minimal, because its density is too low and frankly probably not much different than what is found in a typical middle-class suburban area within single family subdivisions and a few apartment complexes. No doubt those that are lucky enough to be within walking / biking distance would have a better chance of doing so because of the interconnected street grid and bike trails, and that would be a good thing. But make no mistake that any businesses above the smallest neighborhood-serving uses (dry cleaners, donut shop) in the Heights area will assume that essentially all their patrons will arrive via car. Especially without any significant transit service – which I might add, the Heights explicitly rejected back when light rail planning was being done around 2000, out of fear that it would lead to densification.

    The Woodlands is actually filling in the areas near Town Center, especially on the Lake Woodlands side, with residential of both small-lot single family and dense multifamily nature. I would bet that it ends up having much higher residential densities than many Heightsians would tolerate.

  • @Local Planner: According to the 2000 census, the Heights super neighborhood had about 40k people living within about 7.3 square miles. The Woodlands has about 93k people living within about 43 square miles. They may put in some apartments around the Market Street area, but the Heights SN is also getting @1000 new units and has seen a lot of infill and new development, especially in Cottage Grove and Shady Acres, which both will have good access to Katyville via a new connection on the hike and bike path.
    Retailers in both the Woodlands and Katyville both assume that their customers will arrive in car. It is just that the developments in the burbs are actually being designed to accommodate people arriving by foot or bike and those in Katyville are not. And the Heights has built and continues to expand hike and bike infrastructure that is being scuttled as a benefit to the community by development in Katyville that is hostile to anything other than vehicle traffic.

  • Rice is tearing it down a done deal and yeah, before you comment maybe you should actually go and see this tin barnacle. As for The Heights and Montrose, yes we can all stipulate that the area used to be run down, crawling with crime and vice, and a place few would actually chose to live. I applaud that the two neighborhoods have been gentrified and cleaned up, I’m all for restoration and preservation, but where I have issues is when developers tear down restored bungalows and mansions and build horrid, styless townhomes, that will look like shit in 30 years–I guess that will be just in time for the new developers to tear those down for even denser structures, alas I highly doubt they will get much flack for ripping down these new townhomes–

  • @OS: I would agree that Cottage Grove and Shady Acres are becoming much denser, primarily thanks to townhomes. Neither of those is within a 10-minute walk of much of the retail that’s gone into “Katyville.” They would be a more reasonable bike ride. I didn’t realize either one was included in the Heights SN.

    I do agree that I wish the new retail projects, while acknowledging the need to accommodate cars, also designed themselves to have better ped/bike access to and within them. At least the one project at Sawyer Heights preserved the bike trail, though it’s hardly oriented to it.

  • Oldschool: It’s the building codes that are hostile to anything other than vechicile traffic. When you HAVE to put a ton of parking in for your properties, you end up with some big trade offs — mostly walkabillity and green space.
    I’m trying very hard on a new property we’re building to have a lot of green space in exchange for less parking. And I’m “begging” to just have 1 spot per 1bd apartment (vs. 1 1/3). Even going to just 1 spot per 1 bd would allow all sorts of stuff.. Shared garden, bike racks, shared zip cars? etc.