Bringing Back Dowling Street; More SoulCycle Spinning into Houston


Photo of James Turrell’s skyspace at Rice University: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool


19 Comment

  • I find it disgusting that HISD gave into this manufactured controversy. HISD has a budget shortfall, laying off many people in headquarters and suspending many training programs for teachers, yet they have a couple of million to throw away on an Issue Du Jour of some annoying SJW’s?

  • Re: Dowling – My opinion as a resident of the area…

    1. The single largest hindrance to a Dowling revitalization are dingy bars that fill up and spill onto the street every Thursday through Saturday. The whole area suffers from the typical bar overflow issues that plague other parts of Houston – streets full of parked cars, heavy traffic with pedestrians zipping in and out of parked cars, drunks walking around and peeing in bushes, police activity from bar fights, etc. This puts a stigma on the area for both businesses and residences. Also, these bars do not appeal to a broader section of the populace – they are predominantly African-American, and no other demographic groups patronize them, nor are they encouraged to. It reminds me of the cluster of gay bars in Montrose back in the day (around Pacific and Crocker) – it was known as that area and it stayed that way. Everyone seemed happy with the arrangement, but no one expected it to change any time soon.

    2. Almeda – located just a few blocks west – was cleaned up several years ago with improved street lighting, brick intersections, and landscaping. This has made Almeda the more desirable commercial corridor, sapping life from Dowling. New businesses pop up on Almeda all the time, including hip places like the new Axelrad bar, which is packed every night.

    3. There still has not been that final “trendy” push eastward across 288 to make the area desirable and “hot” like the Museum District. Properties west of 288 command a $250k premium to those on the east for the same types of structures and conditions. Hip hangouts like Axelrad are pushing the boundaries eastward, but none have yet crossed. I think it will eventually happen as the Museum District gets ever pricier and runs out of older properties to turn over.

    4. The HISD boundary between Yates and Lamar High Schools is 288. That has been a huge impedance against development on the east side of 288, including this stretch of Dowling. Until that changes, or Yates drastically improves, entire swaths of the population will not desire to live there. This hinders businesses that get their revenue from stable, cash-spending residents (the type of businesses being advocated by this group).

  • Yeah, I’m really sure commonsense is just consumed with guilt and racking his brain over some government workers losing their jobs. I think this is probably the first defense of a government worker you’ve ever thrown down. Considering the topic at hand, I find that quite troubling.

  • They better act quickly on Dowling. There are already townhouse farms sprouting up south of 45, headed south towards McGowen.

  • The banner installation project is a really nice touch. There’s been some interesting quotes, one even prompted follow-up research, but I’ve noticed a few of the banners have blown away. Dear Banner Installer, Air vent holes mitigate against the wind corridors in downtown.

  • Love Skyspace @ Rice University. Go in the morning in Jan/Feb on a cool day. It’s an ethereal experience. Make reservations via the RiceU. website.

  • Hey, UH, how about revitalizing Elgin between Scott and 288? It’s a main thoroughfare, and,….oh wait, it’s not walkable enough. Sorry my bad.

  • @joel, this is a special case, my wife is a medium cheese at HISD so I’m privy to a lot more information than general public. Despite popular belief HISD is not overbloated, they’re actually understaffed in many areas and lack office space necessary. Many schools are still short of teachers and those that are here are not being trained as necessary because of lack of funds. Some AP and STEM Programs are being eliminated and the departments completely deleted. So this directly affects quality of education, and for what? For some perceived political issue that wasn’t an issue for many decades?

    PS, yes HISD screwed up with money on many construction projects, but throwing more money away is not the answer.

  • @Superdave So you have a problem with the bars currently on Dowling because of street traffic and drunks, but you applaud Almeda street for attracting Axelrad which fills the street with traffic and drunks? So white midtowners are hip and trendy and desirable, and the black clubs in 3rd ward are dingy and a hindrance?

  • SuperDave, you are probably correct in saying that development will cross over 288 from the Museum District as property values rise. That’s what happened in the West End as Montrose got pricey and development jumped Memorial Drive. Oak Forest has gotten popular as the Heights became less affordable.

    I think the HISD renaming “emergency” is the flip side of the made up “emergency” regarding who goes in what restroom. Both are distractions to keep people from seeing the lack of effort on finding solutions to real problems.

  • The renaming of Sidney Lanier as Bob Lanier is an example of renaming that I disagree with. While I think it a travesty to celebrate Jefferson Davis or other leaders within the Confederacy, I think it excessive or misguided to see Sidney Lanier as a similar kind of symbol. His legacy is that of (minor) poet, musician, and teacher. (His role in the Civil War was that of undistinguished soldier in the Confederate Army, which hardly puts him on the level of, say, Stonewall Jackson.)

    That fact that HISD then fixed on Bob Lanier as a facile way of preserving “Lanier,” illustrates to me that little thought, much less principle, was involved in this decision. That really stinks.

    I therefore find myself agreeing with commonsense, which feels a little weird. Weirder still is to see commonsense’s full-throated defense of the HISD bureaucracy. Again, I agree with him. Strange day I’m having.

  • @Pitts – I don’t have a problem with it at all, I was just stating facts. You are the one who spun what I said into a black vs. white debate, not me.

    Yes, the bars on Dowling are dingy – the buildings look rough during daylight – cracked masonry, no landscaping, tinted windows covered with burglar bars, etc. Axelrad started with a complete renovation that included landscaping, a patio with decorative fencing, and sprucing up the building. It is clean and crisp inside and out.

    Another key difference between Axelrad and the bars on Dowling: a black person could walk into Axelrad and fit in just fine with the diverse crowd. But if a white person walked into a bar on Dowling, they would turn heads. The bars cater to different demographics. Not everyone who lives in Midtown is white, and not everyone who goes to Axelrad is white, and not everyone who patronizes Axelrad lives in Midtown. You are generalizing. I am fine with the bars on Dowling serving the black community – I have no problem with that, as I stated earlier. I would appreciate more inclusive businesses in the area.

  • So which is the quintessential bar on Dowling? Looking for somewhere new to go this weekend…

  • I’m with SuperDave 100%. I live right between alameda and Dowling and its night and day regardless of the color of the patronage. Almeda looks cleaned up and revitalized. Dowling looks like it did in 1990. Hopefully some investment comes to the area. The proximity to downtown and med center and ability to access 4 major highways in less than 5 minutes is going to be a hot commodity at some point.

  • @detroux, on my way to Dynamo games, my normal route takes me past the corner of Alabama and Dowling, which has an establishment on the NW corner that is really popular on weekend nights. It doesn’t look dingy or unwelcoming to me, though, so perhaps that’s not one of the ones Superdave is talking about. Or maybe it is, and our standards are different. Just seems to be a regular night spot to me. Google Maps tells me it’s a lounge called Status.
    BTW, if you’re looking for places to eat along Dowling, I can personally recommend Doshi House for vegetarian, and I have coworkers who swear by the fried fish at Navy Seafood.

  • @Pitts and @Superdave you are both right. The problem with Dowling is there is not enough non-bar commercial development on Dowling to offset the bars. There used to be plenty of businesses on that street, as there once was on Almeda in the mid-80s. The redesign and TIRZ help bring business back to life on Almeda and it will happen again on Dowling, very soon. Btw…@superdave…. white folks been stepping into blacks folks bars as long black folks have been allowed to have them…ijs!

  • Should Dowling street be renamed or is it named after a different Dowling?

  • Re: HISD school renaming tomfoolery
    If we’re going to change Sidney Lanier to Bob Lanier, go ahead and change Jefferson Davis to Viola Davis.
    One ridiculous turn deserves another. Or, one logical change begets another. It all depends on how you want to spin this. Meanwhile, $250,000 is gone when we could use that for teachers, books, new equipment, or building maintenance.

  • @Superdave From my perspective, many of the black clubs in 3rd ward don’t seem that dingy from the outside to me (Status, Grooves, Club 2020). And there’s still plenty of dives in Montrose and Midtown. I agree that infrastructure improvements are desperately needed in the area and that prevents redevelopment in the area. But the racial element cannot be ignored; most white people still don’t feel comfortable moving into mostly black neighborhoods or patronizing black businesses. I don’t think the issue is that these bars aren’t “inclusive” enough. A bar like Status has music, drinks, sports on TV, food trucks, etc. The only thing it doesn’t have is a lot of white faces. And I think this racial stigma plays a big part on why 3rd has gentrified much lower than the former gay neighborhood in Montrose, for instance.