Boxing Out Dynamo Stadium

Will the Houston Dynamo get to build their stadium in East Downtown — or off Westpark, near the Galleria? So far, the odds are . . . neither. The final go-ahead for building a soccer stadium on the EaDo site will require county commissioners to formally join the new East Downtown TIRZ (boundaries shown outlined above). But they can’t vote on that proposal until commissioner El Franco Lee puts that decision on the agenda. So far he hasn’t done that — and he apparently won’t talk to the press or constituents about his intentions.

Meanwhile, over in Bellaire, city officials are rushing to put in some “stop-gap” zoning changes to the Research and Development District at the northern edge of the city. Most of the site of Midway Companies’ proposed Dynamo Stadium development there lies within Houston city limits, but a small portion on the east side is apparently in Bellaire’s RDD.

What sort of zoning changes are being discussed? Instant News Bellaire‘s Angela Grant explains:

The new Comprehensive Plan envisions the RDD as a mixed-used urban area that includes residential, retail and offices, along with METRO’s future light-rail station. But as the zoning codes are currently written, developers could construct car lots, warehouses or other things that conflict with the “urban village” idea. . . .

The main change would be that developers wishing to construct residential, commercial or mixed-use buildings would need to go before the city in a planned development process to have their ideas approved before moving forward. The city would get a chance to review the plans, consider whether they conformed with the Comprehensive Plan, and reject any developments that did not.

Map showing outline of TIRZ 15: Gensler (PDF)

7 Comment

  • so is the deal that places like bellaire can exist as long as they pay off the city not to annex them? it seems really perverse that these little “pocket” cities are allowed to exist within a much greater and much more diverse city and have incredibly homogenous income brackets. Anyone know what the taxes are like in these little cities too (isn’t there something like it over in sherwood forest?). surely they would have to have higher tax rates to at least meet the minimum standards of houston and pay off houston at the same time.

  • joel, Actually, Bellaire’s municipal tax rate is among the lowest in the state. They can afford to do that and provide superior services because their tax base per capita is so high.

    gus, The image you posted doesn’t accurately depict TIRZ #15. It’s a 60-block area bounded by Texas St., Dowling St., IH-45, and US 59. By virtue of its relatively small size, joining TIRZ #15 shouldn’t really be that big of a deal for Harris County.

  • so is the deal that places like bellaire can exist as long as they pay off the city not to annex them

    TheNiche probably knows more about this than me but I think the law is that Houston cannot annex any city that it completely surrounds. It can only annex areas on it’s border.

  • @TheNiche: We’ve found 3 maps showing the boundaries indicated above, though the most recent ones are from April of last year. Have the boundaries changed since then? You can find the maps here (p. 27), here (p. 5), and here (first two are PDFs). Let us know if you find anything more recent.

  • Let’s face it, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Midway to bring their plans for the stadium into line with Bellaire’s comprehensive plan. All they have to do is bolt on some turrets, put lick and stick stone on the front and extend the construction at the sides so that it leaves less than 12″ to the property boundary. Job done.

  • @Jimbo: Hee.
    @El Franco Lee: Boo!

  • @jgriff: Houston used to swallow up little cities all the time. Harrisburg, Houston Heights, and Magnolia Park come to mind. But when that’s happened, it has always been by way of a mutual agreement between those cities and Houston. Without a mutual agreement, Houston has no more authority to swallow up Bellaire than Bellaire has to swallow up Houston.

    @gus: Yep, I was wrong. Looks like TIRZ #15 was expanded in recent years and I was just out of the loop. That’s what happens when you’re unemployed for as long as I’ve been.