Comment of the Day: Houston’s Westward Tilt

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON’S WESTWARD TILT Energy Corridor, Houston“News flash: the energy corridor is now the economic center of town. Downtown is just where companies go to save on rents bc the EC might be too pricey. There are — of course — big legacy companies still downtown but three super majors are between HW 6 and Dairy Ashford.” [Houstonian, commmenting on Another Chelsea Gets Away] Illustration: Lulu

29 Comment

  • yep, and Katy is the new uptown/galleria. now when can we start talking down to east siders as if they’re not even a part of Houston?

  • It’s sadly true. I’d rather have an office downtown, but with many of my clients in the energy sector, if I want to reduce driving time, especially for intraday meetings, EC is the place to be!

  • So the economic center of town is literally just within the far western city limits? Uptown has 23+ million sq ft of office space & downtown has 40+ million, all while the energy corridor has just 20+ million. Then you through in other areas of office space around town I think your center is a bit off.

  • I’m pretty sure Houstonian is just trolling us now, but somehow keeps getting CoTD

  • I’ve been saying this for years. Houston has become decentralized with several major work centers strewn about. The whole concept of Suburb to Downtown commute is obsolete, Downtown has become irrelevant. That’s why mass transit projects are such a waste of time including the toy trains which they’re trying to go to places absolutely irrelevant to commutes. Quit pandering to the sweaty loud mouths living in inner loop and projects that can only be seen from the City Hall windows and concentrate on project that address How we Live NOT How we Ought to Live.

  • For energy, maybe. But the big law firms and other companies that have regular business with city, county and federal government are downtown and are likely to stay there, because that’s where the action is. Exxon Mobil’s move to The Woodlands may create another economic center in the Great White North (it’s a beauty way to go).

  • As of 2000 the weighted center of gravity of both population and employment in the Houston MSA was at Allen Parkway and Montrose. Given development patterns since then it might have shifted to Waugh. If we are talking office space it might be around the Galleria. I am working on a project now that will let me figure out exactly where the office space center of gravity is next time this claim is made.

    As to the general thrust of the comment,
    Please explain why rents are higher in downtown.

  • While EC is obviously a major employment center for a key industry, it’s just one of a constellation of employment centers in our region. Downtown and Uptown aren’t any less important than what they’ve been. And last I checked, Downtown and Uptown both have significant oil and gas companies residing there, and overall the number of jobs concentrated in these two centers plus the TMC and Greenway is the most significant concentration in the region. Frankly, any one place claiming to be the “economic center” of Houston should be viewed with skepticism. (Full disclosure: I live in the EC.)

    Furthermore, based on where desirable suburbs are and where they’re still developing, the Downtown – Uptown axis can still be appropriately called central. It has Pearland, Clear Lake, and Kingwood / Atascocita to thank for that. We’re hardly like Atlanta, Dallas, or KCMO, where almost all the economic momentum has lurched to suburbia on one side of the region, putting the urban core at a big disadvantage.

  • roadchick – excellent point

  • Didnt you guys get the memo? Central business districts are the new Blockbuster Video, Dial-up Modem, and flip phones. Theyre Obsolete!
    If anyone tells you the amount of office workers, office space, residents, and retail space of the houston inner city has increased in the last decade: that person is obviously communist.

  • Once the rail connects downtown to Uptown, it might continue to the Energy Corridor. Then You can live and any of the three and work in any of the three and we can all love one another and wave as we cross on passing trains. <3

  • Uuuhhhh…so I work downtown and pretty sure it’s not just full of cheap rents and has-beens. Government offices, stadiums, and many large companies are located there and aren’t going anywhere soon. Also, a lot of the offices are Class A and quite expensive, because the spaces are prized both as a status symbol and because they’re interconnected with tunnels, skywalks, and are within walking distance of each other. When I worked for some of the companies mentioned way out there, getting in and out of their high security campuses was like dealing with customs at the airport, and many employees wasted tens of hours each week driving around town to meet with far away clients or to go to other company offices. There is still and will always be a need for a space like downtown for companies.

  • The Energy Corridor may be Houston’s economic center of gravity, but Downtown/Midtown remains our cultural, shopping, and entertainment center. With the exception of City Centre (which is a well done facsimile of an urban neighborhood, but still just a facsimile) there aren’t a lot of really nice restaurants or shopping areas in the Energy Corridor. There are no museums. Almost all of those are closer to Downtown. The Opera House is Downtown. Theaters are downtown. The Symphony plays Downtown. The Ballet is Downtown. The the Ball Field is Downtown. The Soccer and Football Stadiums are closer to Downtown. The really good restaurants and nice shopping areas, for the most part, are closer to Downtown than they are to the Energy Corridor.
    What this means is, Downtown and Midtown are still the preferred places to live for most young people who rent their homes.

  • Downtown is not supposed to be the economic center of Houston. Downtown is the nerve center. It has the high level corporate offices for banking/finance, legal, accounting and a lot of energy companies. The energy corridor is more for the worker bees. It is where the job gets done. Engineers and geos do not need to have offices next to the lawyers and bankers. So, they are sent out to the suburbs. Houston has such a massive presence in the energy industry that the colony of worker bees has started to look like a new downtown. But it isn’t.

  • Is it something wrong with everybody in comments?? Downtown is expensive. It’s really better for them to do what they want to do in energy corridor and just be close to residents where employees living. The value is way higher downtown. The central will never be out of downtown, especially if residential keeps growing bigtime in the loop and residences in downtown and the best medical center that’s nearby and the galleria and the richest millionaires living there, arts, shows, etc.

  • I don’t know what type of companies will engender the next wave of energy-related building but maybe much of it will go onto Hwy 99 north of I-10. That seems like a good bet for an EC #2 if there ever were one.

    Houston is shaping up to be a great city for the reverse commute. Why should anyone live close to downtown who doesn’t really want to?

  • Good point, Old School.

  • Houston does not have a centralized downtown district. After Gerry Hines built the Galleria, the city fractured into numerous regional shopping centers and has remained decentralized since. Perhaps Houston functions better this way.
    Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and all the King’s men cannot put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
    MetroNational and Midway Cos. are determined to reconstruct Houston with a new centralized downtown district in CityCentre. They envision Memorial Drive and Gessner as commercial 8-lane thoroughfares. They envision the corridor of residential neighborhoods between the Katy Freeeway and Memorial Drive as one big mega shopping center, an expansion of Memorial City that stretches on for miles. They envision deed restricted neighborhoods of Walnut Bend and Briargrove Park as office parks. Don’t believe me? Just go to and click on 2050 map. They are serious about remapping Houston. And what are they going to do with all the storm water run-off from these commercial buildings? They are going to channel it into Buffalo Bayou, of course. To do this they have to deforest the bayou and widen and deepen and concrete it. They are determined to do it. And where are they going to get the money to do this? Out of TIRZ 17 and MetroNational Bank.

  • This person is making the Ptolemaic claim that the Energy Corridor is the economic center of their professional life and therefore that it is the center of a nebulously-defined Houston-verse. His argument is obviously very deeply flawed.

    @ awp: I look forward to your centroid analysis of office buildings, but office employment is only a single type of employment and it isn’t very relevant for most urban planning or analysis purposes. If you have a copy of ArcGIS or MapInfo then you might instead try using the H-GAC regional forecast dataset for 2015.

  • news flash-the energy dependent corridor is vulnerable to the boomtown/ghostown cycle. if the powers that be decide cheap and abundant oil is gonna be here awhile, then this place might as well hang a big billboard that says, Just Kick Me. amirite?

  • Sounds like a lot of you elderly folk haven’t been to downtown in a long time. Katy can keep its bland scenery, strip malls, and chain restaurants. Young people want to be where the action is and its not in the suburbs. Do ya’ll want to know where the real economic center of town is and has been?..its on the east side, along the ship channel. Without it this city would be nothing.

  • I say thank goodness we can’t agree on the ‘center of Houston’. Some of you love downtown, some of you love the Energy Corridor. I’m pretty happy in The Woodlands. This is great news! Can you imagine if we were all trying to get to the EXACT SAME PLACE every day!?!??!

  • dt……”elderly folks”????? you’ve got to be kidding me. You better hope you never get old. BTW, who cares about the Energy Corridor? If Houston is going to thrive into the future, we better start getting different business types to move here. Being a boom/bust city does not suggest a solid future. I couldn’t care less if one more engineer moved here unless they are engineers in a different industry. We need a much greater vision of our future economic development.

  • If the feds ever agree to export crude oil, the ship channel will be booming like crazy. Maybe then someone will write an article about the oligarchs taking over EaDo.

  • “economic center” – whatever method by which you’re measuring this surely revenue plays significantly. thus, phillips 66 brings the center eastward, halliburton & chevron’s downtown heft pull it further east, and exxon forces a northern pull. factor in the galleria & greenway plaza: schlumberger, oxy, and marathon and your claim is way off. so, no, the economic center isn’t in the tight confines of the energy corridor.

  • The Niche,

    I know this, you know this, but the construction of offices in the energy corridor seems to be the source of this bogus claim that “the economic center of Houston is west of the Galleria”.

  • Just drive west down I-10 from downtown to past 99 and see all the major new buildings sprouting up. New construction starts downtown and ends past 99. No other corridor in town has that. If you haven’t made that drive in the last few months (and I’m guessing some of you never make that drive), try it and be amazed.

  • The Niche,

    See what I mean.

  • “Just drive west down I-10 from downtown to past 99 and see all the major new buildings sprouting up. New construction starts downtown and ends past 99. No other corridor in town has that. If you haven’t made that drive in the last few months (and I’m guessing some of you never make that drive), try it and be amazed.”

    I work in the EC and drive I-10 everyday, twice a day. Since I am looking at all of the construction out West, how should I interpret all of the existing tall buildings in the Galleria and Downtown?