Arting Around on Navigation Blvd.

A 3-block stretch of the median along Navigation Blvd. was outfitted yesterday with some functional swag — bike racks, bus stops, solar panels and LED string lights, shade screens, benches — designed to perk up the East End streetscape into a shaded little walkable market dubbed The Esplanade. The stretch in question spans N. St. Charles and Delano, running alongside the Original Ninfa’s and the recently opened El Tiempo Cantina.


Directed by none other than the Art Guys, the team of artists who put together this stuff included wacky playhouse designers Metalab, Gary Sweeney, and Anthony Thompson Schumate. Additionally, it appears that new trees were planted and frames were set around some of the original live oaks trees to create patios; kiosks designed by Metalab and Merge Studios will eventually be installed as well for vendors to set up shop later this fall.

The whole thing is set to be completed Oct. 19.

Photos: Allyn West

35 Comment

  • Looks great! I like the benches in particular.

  • Good! I wish Montrose Blvd North of Westheimer had something similar…well, at least a beginning has been made with the “Montrose Vuvuzela”.

  • I love, love, love the idea. Gives the area a nice sense of place. Wish there were more of that around here. However, the choice of phrases on display strikes me as odd. ‘Keep trying’?

  • Best Urban Neighborhoods, 2018 edition: East End, Houston

    Count on it.

  • Fantastic. More of this, please.

  • I would love to see this in other areas of the city too, but you need a wide meridian to accomplish it … something that most of inner Houston doesn’t have.

    What is happening instead is the disappearance of greenery due to setback variations for large apartment blocks (slums of the future). If only our city officials required contributions of green spaces for these variations much like the requirement for drainage basins.

  • Before I say something negative… What funds paid for this? Was this public funds? Private Donation?

  • that bench is awesome! would love to see more of those around town.

  • I wondered about “Keep Trying” too but at least it’s relatively easy to read, being all upper case.

    The “Laugh” is totally different. That lone upper case G in the midst of lower case cursive letters looks awkward,IMO.

    I’d have to think that no real planning went into that one. It would have to be confusing to a youngster just learning to write.

    Reminds me of the Igloo Road exit sign on I-10 West.

  • It says “keep frying.” OK, so Navigation is gentrifying on one end, what about the rest of it, you’re still a handful of lights from another world.

    Agree there’s a good chance East End will fare well if things continue at this clip.

  • @commonsense, this is funded through a $5M “stimulus grant” (Fed tax$). I live over here and think it’s all beautiful and fun but the Navigation/2nd Ward area is the largest petri dish for the walkable/livable/sustainable/density/Agenda 21 gang and there is a master plan. Nowhere else inside the loop will yield economically,socially and politically to this conversion as easily.

  • Dang, fed taxes? Why are my income taxes paying for some dipshit in the hood to sit on a stylized bench with a cliche meaning? If I’m paying for it, it better be made of the most uncomfortable concrete with metal spikes that money can buy.

  • What a lauGh, KEEP TRYING

  • It should be noted that the traffic lanes have been narrowed, which enabled a wider, more functional esplanade for the types of events already taking place here. The creativity of the project is very refreshing. Good job all around!

  • commonsense really should change his (? sorry, assuming it is male) screen name to iamagainstitnomatterwhoitbenefits

  • @ASprout, I’m mostly against government wasting public funds on non-necessities and then asking for more money in taxes to cover necessities.

  • @commonsense I was part of the design of some of the projects on this esplanade. I am no dipshit and I also pay taxes and have been for the last 10 years. I think it is a very well spent/designed space needed in an urban area especially here in texas. Thank you very much for your comments. I plan on using that space as well so if you want to wear a tshirt with your username I would love to have a conversation with you.

  • This is awesome. LOVE IT. WANT TO SEE MORE OF IT. Money well spent.

  • Yes. These Tax Dollars spent will generate a lot of Tax Dollars Earned and a benefit to the whole community.

  • I’m not actual pro-narrowing traffic lanes. But I like the rest of the project.

  • Have a heart, commonsense! It seems you’d rather see Houston as a sea of concrete and featureless high-rises. I don’t see what’s wrong with using stimulus funds to make an area more beautiful and walkable…which increases its desirability and raises property values. If we left it up to the City of Houston and developers, there wouldn’t be a tree or blade of grass left. We’ve lost way too much already.

  • Awesome! We halved the number of lanes on Navigation and on Harrisburg due to the East End Line! And we spend taxpayer money doing it!

    Usually Houston adds infrastructure when area is developing and growing. I guess the new strategy is to take away infrastructure, so at least it will feel crowded.

  • eiioi – This is infrastructure. That word, it does not mean what you think it means. Not all infrastructure exists to serve cars. This is for humans.

  • Yeah, Sihaya, I tend to agree on the traffic lanes. There are 3 main arteries running east/west over there and the widest 2, Harrisburg and now Navigation, have been narrowed due to MetroRail and this project. There’s a trolley study currently funded to add to the non-car transit domination. Canal is the other artery and the master plan has ideas for it and Commerce St too but I don’t think they’re going to be car-hostile. It will be like Disneyland for the density-is-loveable crowd. The density of the area is planned to be 4-5 times what it is now. I’m sure it will be amazing and keewwl but I say we also embrace our yards and personal space while we still have some.

  • I guess I just don’t get it. Making a quasi park on a small stretch of esplanade? Seriously, who is going to use this? Right now, there is not much density and the only thing generating traffic is Ninfa’s and El Tiempo. So it becomes a glorified waiting room for Ninfa’s at taxpayers expense. There are plenty of other ways $5m could have benefitted the East End to serve a greater number of people. I’m sure the longtime residents would have appreciated a USUABLE park, a soccer field, a dog park etc… This is just a feel good exercise that wastes other peoples money.

  • So happy to see this development. I think it’s going to be great for the continuing revitalization of the East End. According to the rendering, their is also suppose to be a small cafe/restaurant pad and 58 market stalls, perfect for the upcoming street festival or maybe a farmers market. It doesn’t appear any lanes were taken away for this project, as the bare esplanade was already there to begin with. So you can stop the biching and moaning already! Regardless, the East End Management District is trying to focus on making the district a pedestrian and bicycle friendly area. In fact, it’s really one of the only inner loop districts that has a real chance of achieving this. I swear, some of you haters have zero vision what’s so ever.

  • @JT Really, JT. The city just spent quite a few dollars upgrading nearby Eastwood Park. It’s not their fault you don’t want to USE their USABLE park. And a dog park,really? How is that any different than complaining about tax dollars being spent on the “glorified” esplanade that will be used as a “waiting room for patrons of Ninfas and El Tiempo?” Not everyone owns a dog dude!!!

  • This is awesome!–ugh, this could have been Richmond–but nooooooooooo

  • @heyzeus “This is infrastructure”

    Its more like an accouterment.

  • I seriously doubt one penny of cs’s Fed tax dollars was spent on this project. What is it with conservatives that think they personally find every single federal project they don’t like.

  • I’m happier to see the city or county spend $5 million on this project that will benefit the community more than I am seeing the county spend $18 million on a pair of digital scoreboards in Reliant Stadium to benefit a billionaire’s sports team enterprise.

  • I love this! Way to go East End. I love public art, it gives our city some soul.

  • Heyzeus, this is not infrastructure – it’s just artwork and wasted taxpayer dollars. As the title of this post suggests, this is just farting around (polite version). Since when is artwork considered infrastructure?

    Whether or not it’s “infrastructure”, it’s not necessary for pedestrians either since there are already sidewalks on both sides along this entire stretch.

    Even if you are hostile towards cars, you could still support more reasonable projects like continuous sidewalks on Leeland or on Polk, two important roads that have veer, very few accommodations for pedestrians. I bet the money spent on this useless project would pay for a sidewalk most of the way from Bastrop to Scott on Leeland.

    Or perhaps a park would be better? $5 million would pay for one block where a usable park could be developed. Who is going to use this park in the median of Navigation? People waiting to get in to Ninfas?

  • commonsense: “Before I say something negative…” Isn’t that wish a few years too late?

    The art looks great to me. I pay taxes, too!

  • Please tell me they aren’t going to cement around those trees. They will die.