A First Look at the Strip Center-and-Apartments Combo That Could Go Up Between UH and TSU

Here’s a plan that looks to plug in to Metro’s still-under-construction Southeast Line and redo about 8 blocks along Scott St. in the Third Ward between UH and TSU. Though the plan, drawn up by LAI Design Group and dubbed “University Place Redevelopment,” is provisional, it appears to have in mind something like what the rendering above shows: A reshaped streetscape on Scott St. that would combine apartments, restaurants, shops, offices, and community buildings.

The first phase appears to call for a strip center facing Scott between Holman and Reeves, with 289 1- and 2-bedroom apartments and a parking garage in the rear:


It appears that much of the development would happen on the other side of Scott St. from the new UH football stadium, still under construction:

Additional phases of the development, shown in the map directly above as bumping into the Yates High School campus, call for a large grocery store, a new library, hotels, townhouses, and “community and educational facilities.”

Images: LAI Design Group

44 Comment

  • Will there be the obligatory barbed wire fence with a mote and landmines to mitigate the local Redistribution Entrepreneurs?

  • This would be fantastic in a number of ways. Not only will it allow more students to live near campus, as almost all of the on-campus housing has waitlists right now, but it will also in a small way push the borders of Third Ward just a little bit farther from the UH campus. If the whole plan is realized, it should have the potential to lower the crime rate on campus, if only slightly, by improving that little strip along Scott and providing a small buffer of nice neighborhood between Third Ward and the campus.

    Now if we can just gentrify the entirety of Third Ward…

  • I just dont understand how college kids can afford this

  • do it. do it now. do it ten years ago when I was in school at UH.

  • I’m curious, what about the additional phases? The second from the last picture must be for Phase II b/c it doesn’t seem to fit with phase I’s overall plan.

  • Well a wonderful concept, it’s just not going to happen anytime soon. While the dynamics of the area are improving it would be a huge stretch for any rational investment on this scale in the area.

  • Having gone to UH I would not feel safe walking back home at night. Scott Street is where the shit goes down. They should build this near riverside terrace off of MacGregor or something, I would feel much more safe there. This is coming from someone who grew up in the hood just FYI, not some scared suburbanite.

  • This would do wonders for both universities, and make Scott Street into the main “University Boulevard” between the two campuses, especially with the light rail running through and giving access to downtown and the rest of the city.

  • This honestly looks better than what I would expect going on over there. But i think whoever is driving this is very smart, forward thinker… This area will continue to improve and become trendy. UH is flourishing and bringing much needed life into the area. This building reminds me of DC type mixed use – which is awesome. I am 100% for this… Although there are some funky looking windows on the retail side i would remove :)

  • @robert, that’s exactly why this should be built.

  • The U of H and TSU area is ridiculously lacking as far as retail and student housing are concerned plus the yuppies have already crossed the freeway frontier so the idea is good but will they attempt something like this without the University Line?

  • The amenities provided by this project should support UH’s ambition to be more residential (instead of primarily commuter), assuming that ‘hood hazards can be ameliorated.

  • Forward thinking? Yes, Definitely… 3rd ward and the East End are where the smart money is currently being spent. In another 5-8 years you won’t recognize the area … thanks to the development the Light Rail will bring.

  • Awesome idea, I would have totally lived there if something like that had been available when I was a student. Scott street south to MacGregor isn’t so bad. The rail line should help redevelopment back to 45 (The Greater Third Ward Area). Do I hear University Place in the making for that entire area? Midtown is busting at the seams; spilling across the freeway is a natural extension. The development will help to clean up Scott Street.

  • @Robert: and this is why we need this type of development. It has worked for other urban campuses.

  • Great news, hope it all gets built, but yeah, currently that area is rough to say the least

  • @Jeff

    Thank you. Often times I hear people talk about how much we need to invest in widening the highways, increasing road capacity, etc… These same people would say 3rd ward will never be nice… These people don’t realize that the Katy Freeway was doubled from what it was and now is packed again. The answer that most dont see is downtown – and the surrounding areas – are where we will see Houston’s best changes. But I see it. Houston is at a point where commuting is becoming such a problem, people are willing to give up yard size, master planned communities, and a their sprinkler system for city parks, close commutes, and a neighborhood vibe. This development by UH is something that may seem crazy to some, but in the long run, it is a game changer for the community. I cannot wait to watch that area become the new “Heights” one day. If things continue like they are, it won’t be long!

  • Too much crime/lower income/bums for this to work.

  • Development light rail will bring?

    Where in Houston has light rail brought development? Oh, the suburbs, of course.

  • I would think Midtown is a good example of how light rail can spur development.

  • @ Flash.. why oh why do you anti rail clowns keep ignoring than every revival area has occured along the rail line.. Midtown is proof of that ..just look at the sheer number of projects slanted for main st or close to it..

    The building of the rail was one of the main selling points for them to place BBVA statuam on the east end…

    Stop denying what is clealry in front of you !!

  • A lot of the New Heights still looks like the Old Heights, but I guess in this area anything is an improvement

  • Have to disagree with the rail bringing development to Midtown. The gentrification was going on long before that rail line and I would argue that Camden and Post and Gables would have gone forward regardless. Do you think the club boom that occured there really happened because of the rail.
    Not quite. Development is going on now because that’s where the vacant land is. I am not anti-rail but this clown system
    we have that is merely replacing buslines is a waste of money.

  • i’m not even going to direct this @ Flash

    Anyone with the smallest amount of vision realizes that the rail will have a dramatic impact on the areas it travels. Rail may not be for everyone….But…. There are thousands of people moving to Houston every week, and a substantial amount of those people are coming from cities with established and effective mass transit. I for one hate sitting in traffic for hours to get to/from work and paying at the pump for the privilage of an exhausting commute. A “neighborhood” with housing, dining, and retail on the same block that is near downtown and only a short train ride from work/ballgames/theater sounds pretty cool. Hopefully the future face of 3rd ward and the east end will all of these …. and it will be primarily because of rail development, not despite it.

  • It’s evident rail has increases developement, at least in Mid-Town. I can only imagine what it would have done for Richmond. I guess it will take a dethroning of the idiot Culbertson to make that a reality. It boggles the mind that a Houston Rep would fight against money for ..Houston and the Republicans wonder why they’ve lost Generation X and Y: Exhibit A

  • It always amazes me how many people view Houston as black and white, and static. To them, there are good neighborhoods, and there are bad neighborhoods, and those never change. Commonsense and Robert took this stance here. There were others in the Fifth Ward and Sharpstown discussions.
    It explains a lot about why they say the things they do. But it also runs counter to the nature of Cities – especially Houston. Neighborhoods are constantly improving or deteriorating, based on a multitude of factors. Buildings get old and outdated. The center of employment shifts. New highways and transit lines are developed. Development takes place nearby and it has an affect. Other neighborhoods become too pricy and people look for affordable homes. Crime rates rise and fall. The list goes on and on.
    In reality, yesterday’s hot suburb is today’s slum, and today’s slum could well be tomorrow’s historic neighborhood. (Historic neighborhoods often had past lives as slums, because a lack of demand for new buildings in slums helps protect historic buildings).
    The area around UH and TSU is ripe for redevelopment. It stands to gain a lot in coming years, as people are priced out of Midtown and Montrose, and as Houston (and the universities) continue to grow. So what if it had a lot of crime years ago or even if that crime lingers today.

  • Light rail is responsible for the current explosion in East End development, so to say that it doesn’t drive development is disingenuous.

    This area is ripe for gentrification and I’m surprised it took this long. There have been some forays into the Binz area with lofts and such, but this will really transform the neighborhood. I think perhaps people who didn’t grow up in Houston are more likely to be urban pioneers willing to stake an early claim in transforming neighborhoods. Commonsense, on the other hand, will stay in his exclusive gated neighborhood and lob insults at those of us who dare to live the urban dream.

  • What we’re talking about here is a scheme that will price Houston’s black community out of its neighborhood.

    Just saying.

  • @ElephantintheRoom, it’s true what you’re saying, and your statement and “making a neighborhood better” is a direct correlation. So, it’s somewhat of an inconvenient truth.

  • “What we’re talking about here is a scheme that will price Houston’s black community out of its neighborhood. Just saying.”

    Well those in the black community who own property in the neighborhood should stand to make some money if they sell when the price is right or have an estate worth more. I would hardly call it a “scheme”. It is the law of supply and demand.

  • Im simply starting to believe gentrification truely means “White Return” Why cant we all just live harmoniously!

  • ElephantintheRoom- at a base level, you do have a valid point. But there are a few things to note.
    First, everyone who has studies cities, and those who have studied poverty, agree that the goal should be racially and socio-economically diverse neighborhoods. A poor, predominantly black community could actually be well-served by a healthy dose of gentrification in their neighborhood – provided there are mechanisms in place to help the poor stay in the neighborhood. If this happened, poor minorities who stay would benefit from lower crime, better schools, better availability of healthy foods….. All the things they tout when they try to build low-income housing out in the ‘burbs, plus better transit.
    Second, in many cases, poor minority neighborhoods are actually very low-density. This means there’s plenty of room to add density, and accommodate everyone.
    Finally even if poor minorities are pushed out, there are plenty of other neighborhoods, and in many cases it would mean moving to better housing, closer to healthcare and healthy foods (though, sadly, further away from transit).
    So While you do have a point, Elephantintheroom, it’s not one that should kill this project. The issue you’re talking about is much larger, going straight to the core of how we develop low-income housing in the US.

  • when I think of low income areas I think high density, not low, for example, South Chicago, The Bronx, South Central LA, South Oak Cliff. Frankly most people who pay 400000 for a townhome (Montrose, The Heights) don’t really want to live around a poor area and how is it for someone who can’t afford an air conditioner to see someone driving a land rover and driving thru the security gates of their 400000 townhouse, hmmmm.

  • The Coogs are 3-0 this season and hopefully will go undefeated. UH has a bright future. Its rising academics and this whole initiative to raise graduation rate will have UH in the top 100 schools on US news. This semester there are 8,008 students living on campus and when this is complete, you may see faculty moving around this area. Soon, a community for Coogs will be developed.

  • Light rail seems to be spurring east side development,but the main line has up until the last year done nothing to spur development. Look at that awful excuse for a park we have in the middle of midtown along the rail. What a total disappoinment (but at least the midtown TIRZ relocated those shacks on Dallas to another site where they can rot). There is some new development on the main line currently, but a clock is right twice a day.

  • If I recall correctly the LRT did not spur the maximum amount of visible development in midtown because the land prices actually became too high, or something like that.

  • I would dispute that the light rail has had any substantive quantitative impact on Houston’s development patterns, except to shuffle around the placement of some developments within a distance of several blocks. (That is to say, for instance, that downtown was destined to pick up a few big highrises over the last decade, but perhaps they were closer to Main rather than Allen Center.)

    A lot of people forget that the re-gentrification of the Heights took place over a span of decades — without light rail. The gentrification of 3rd Ward, the East End, and the Near Northside has been ongoing for a shorter period of time, and these neighborhoods simply aren’t as well-located as Rice Military — which also transformed without light rail. I would suggest that these neighborhoods are all destined for gentrification, that it will happen slowly because we’re talking about a huge geographic area — and that it would’ve happened with or without light rail, just as with other neighborhoods.

    I might be swayed if it were the case that some meaningful number of people move to Houston because it has light rail, but aside from some extremely narrow subset of people, that strikes me as bullshit. It’s not an effective economic development tool, and certainly not without zoning (which I also oppose).

  • Sample size too small – wait until the next lines open. Right now LRT has more in common with a rural airstrip than with a true “economic tool” or even (in the opinion of myself, a transit rider) a viable way to get around town.

    Having said that, have midtown land prices already been affected by the prospect of additional lines opening elsewhere? I would like to know that.

  • I hope they don’t fill up the 3rd with those ugly tin can townhomes. I have seen one complex off of Live Oak. There are a lot of older small apartments that can be redeveloped and I think most of the new mixed use apartments will stay on Scott and MacGregor. The neighborhoods with the large historic homes should stay the same. Some builds on the vacant lots There has been many new mcmansions built on Southmore. The Third Ward isn’t bad, it just has a bad reputation. North of OST is the best. It along with the East End are going to be so hot this decade.

  • In my opinion, for what it’s worth, the light rail in Houston (deployed as enhanced streetcar) is a local amenity, not a primary driver, for neighborhood development and revitalization. Niche’s statements are pretty spot-on.

  • I disagree with Niche in that Heights, Lamar Military were much easier to develop. LM was a very small area. Heights had some very rough areas but the historic section east of Studewood was always pretty good. The Third Ward needs some “help” to get people interested in moving there. Having rail connecting UH to midtown will generate a lot of ridership and keep cars off the street. Having more rail friendly developments likely to attract students will only increase the use of rail.

  • @trae I agree 3rd ward have some beautiful mansions no one knows about especially in riverside terrace. What if we renovate those mansions and still add modern townhomes?

  • Maybe I’m late to the party… but Most major cities thats are “nice” put some people in uncomfortable cituations to get the city to a better place. The people who are from Third Ward don’t want other people to come in a raise property taxes by making the place better and offering a better situation. However, those same people haven’t done anything for the area but run it into the ground. There is so much potential for this area! Does it need to be “cleaned up?” Most definitely! I live there and I want coffee shop options, a place to buy food, maybe a couple of fast food spots! Whatever it takes to make that happen… let’s do it! Think of what the Heights used to be and what it is now! Things change and Third Ward needs all the change for the better at this point!