Urban-design nerds, street-festival fans, and earnest neighborhood do-gooders will converge on a block of Holman St. near LaBranch this Saturday to play a little game of make-believe: They’ll be imagining what it might be like if Houston had some sort of street life. From 10 am to 10 pm, they’ll be hanging out on a
Third Ward Midtown block quickly made up to look as if it did: with painted-in bike lanes, instant street trees in planters, a pop-up cafe in a portable building parked on the street, food trucks, and maybe even a farmers’ market. And they’ll be smiling pedestrian-friendly smiles.
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How will the resulting activity on the edge of the HCC central campus be any different from, say, the annual Midtown Art on the Park festival going on at the same time at nearby Baldwin Park? The “Hot Block on Holman” will be set up on actual streets and sidewalks, see, not on silly grass or park walkways. Plus it’ll stay open 4 hours later, to simulate actual non-valet-dependent street nightlife. The Holman project is a fully permitted and city-sanctioned version of a guerrilla event staged on North Tyler St. in Dallas’s Oak Cliff neighborhood last year that ended up spurring a wider do-it-yourself “Better Block” movement. It and a few follow-on demonstrations set a lot of wheels in motion in that city to get laws preventing that kind of street life reversed, and make it possible for some of the temporary changes there to become permanent. In the last year, similar events have been staged in Fort Worth; Oyster Bay, Long Island; Memphis, and Waco. Houston: You’re next!
A video chronicling the first event, in Dallas last year:
- Residents get street smart [Houston Chronicle]
- Hot Block on Holman [Better Block Houston]
- How to Build a Better Block [Better Block]
Photo of Holman St. at La Branch: Better Block Houston