Comment of the Day Runner-Up: How and Where Houston’s Gonna Fit All Those Newcomers

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HOW AND WHERE HOUSTON’S GONNA FIT ALL THOSE NEWCOMERS More density is coming to the Heights and every other Inner Loop neighborhood, because the economic factors at work are unstoppable. Barring a disaster wrecking Houston (natural or otherwise) or an economic crash, more people are coming, and lots of them will want to live near the central parts of the city. All we’re debating is how that will happen. Will needed infrastructure improvements happen? Will there be better transit? Will the density be added in a way to preserves the original neighborhood, and what does that look like? I have no problem with this kind of development along Yale or Studewood. I think an ideal outcome is main streets with good transit access and dense housing, retail, etc. with historically significant neighborhoods preserved nearby. I think what Arlington County, VA has done along these lines stands as an excellent example. And the idea that renters bring a neighborhood down is just stupid. unless your idea of a dynamic Heights is one where the average age is 50.” [John (another one), commenting on A Second Midrise Alexan Planned Right Beside the First One on Yale] Illustration: Lulu

31 Comment

  • The more of the Heights one wants to preserve the more strongly one should be advocating for even more density in the developments along Yale and Studemont. Each additional unit on a property not preserved takes pressure off the remaining “historic” properties.

  • Dear John, you got some issue with people over 50? I know some pretty dynamic people over 50 and some pretty boring ones under 50, so lets not use that measure on this site. As for constant growth, heard a spot on the radio this mornging about China’s reduced growth and the impact this may have on Houston. Can’t predict the future except to say that oil is always cyclical and Houston’s current growth depends on it. Don’t go buying any overpriced real estate!

  • Yes, the inner loop is growing in population, there’s no denying it, but I’d like to point out that Houston is not “Inner Loop Centric”. When I lived in the Woodlands, all I heard is Woodlands and growth and new development, etc etc. Similar sentiment is prevalent in other major population areas like Sugar Land and Katy. In a nutshell, Houston is so vast of a city so no-one gives a rat’s ass to what’s happening inside the loop (unless you live there) because things are blowing up everywhere at the same time independent of each other.

  • Arlington, VA has zoning.

    Also, the idea that an area can only be dynamic by piling it up with 20-30 something year olds is wrong. In fact, too many 20-30 year olds make an area very annoying as everything gets turned into big loud bars. Richmond strip, Washington Ave, and now Midtown are all examples of how the young ones can muck up a place.

  • Half, or more, of these new luxury apartment complexes inside the loop will be bankrupt within 10 years.

  • #3- It would only make sense that people who live in this suburbs care only about that suburb, but all the transplants that want dense, walkable neighborhoods that come to the city inevitably look inside the loop. And anyone looking for amenities (restaurants, nightlife, arts, shopping) also look inside the loop as that’s where it’s all concentrated. To say that Houston isn’t “Inner Loop Centric” is becoming less and less true. Already, people turn up their nose at you if you mention that you venture outside of 610, much less Beltway 8.

    The inner loop is now the center of the Houston universe, with the suburbs (Katy, Sugar Land, the Woodlands) as little planets orbiting around it (and I guess the in between the Beltway would be an asteroid belt, lol).

  • Renters are not good for a neighborhood’s stability; apartment projects have ruined too many Houston neighborhoods to count. Personally, I moved into the Heights precicely because it was not dynamic. It had a sleepy, small town feel rapidly being eroded by developers and by the city. If I wanted dyanmic, I would have gone to Montrose.

  • @commonsense
    >>Houston is not “Inner Loop Centric…no-one gives a rat’s ass to what’s happening inside the loop…

    To some extent, true.

    But I would argue that even if you do not live in the inner loop / Galleria area, you may go there for cultural / dining / shopping / sports / museums more frequently than inner loopers would go to the Woodlands, or someone from Katy would go to Sugar Land.

    So really, nobody gives a rats ass what is going on in the Woodlands except people who live in the Woodlands.

    What is going on in the inner loop to some extent affects more of us than any other exurban population center you can name.

  • When will HISD realize the impact of this increased density? West U is getting a big new condo/apt type building behind Berings with 300 units and the West U Elementary there is already bursting at the seams… 40 new Lovett townhomes along Bellaire Blvd. and the local Twain Elementary is already at 780 students and has kids in converted closets as classrooms… Welcome to Houston but good luck getting your kid enrolled in your local zoned school inside the loop…

  • @wiggycat, I believe that new transplants mostly want to live inside the loop is not true, most people move to the suburbs with a big house and lots of land, the Texas way.
    Also, inner loop is not a utopia for shopping and dining by any means, the best mall in town (Galleria) is not inside the loop, and there are infinitely more restaurants outside the loop along Westheimer and Sugar Land and Woodlands town centers which are head and shoulders above the inner loop hit-and-miss restaurant scene.
    The only people who turn their nose at the outer-loopers are the holier than thou Heights and Montrose dwellers… guess what most outer-loopers never heard of the Heights and Montrose still evokes a dirty chuckle when mentioned by name.

    @Mike, true outer-loopers have more reason to visit inner loop for special events, but that’s all, special events, all the meat and potato things like shopping, dining, entertaining are perfectly catered to in the other areas.

  • Dear Heights Presevationists:

    Houston evolves–the lack of zoning ensures this. You can try to fight the evolution but you will fail. Also, development will lead infrastructure–not vice-versa. You can try to fight this too, but, again, you will fail.

  • The inner (and just outside of it ) loop is filling up with young families as well. I know because I was one of those 20-somethings partying it up in Midtown. We had a kid so we bought in Knollwood Village/Braeswood (just west of Reliant). We see young families moving in everyday, and lots of the new families have the same story as ours. My wife even works in the burbs, but wanted to live in the city because her reverse commute is better. So don’t discount those young renters… because a good chunk of them are going to realize how much the burbs suck and will decide to locate their families in town like we did.

  • Greg, agree. Re: apartments, by their very nature they lend themselves to transient residents. Don’t think apts affect a neighborhood’s value? Look around this city. Look at what used to be hip and popular–areas like those apartments in the Gulfton ghetto. Some of those apts. even had nightclubs (Bonapart’s Retreat anyone?)Now look @ them. Braeswood Place, Knollwood Village and others had those 40’s-50’s era 4-plex, 8-plex, whatever multiple housing units that ultimately led to drug dealers and the like. Braeswood HOMEOWNERS were responsible for buying up those properties between Twain and Pershing and getting the Y, the library, ball fields, parks built instead. Not the City. I cringe every time I see apartments built near schools (Rice School for example), knowing the school will be there 50 years and the apts won’t be what they are now, then.

  • @commonsense – Lol, the Galleria? You could have at least said Harwin Shopping District on Harwin St. (which does happen to be outside the loop) and you might have been right except it’s all knockoffs. But like I said, all the good shopping is inside the loop and they’re definitely not in any of the malls.

    And Woodlands and Sugar Land restaurants? The ethnic restaurants in Chinatown, Westchase, and Little India (which are indeed outside the loops) are the only ones that can rival the restaurants in the inner loop let alone the suburbs, unless you’re talking about the number of chain restaurants per capita.

  • Those with a family relocating to Houston will find the suburbs (this includes close in outer Loop residential neighborhoods like Oak Forest) attractive. Homes comparable to other urban areas seem like a bargain and a bigger-is-better swagger Texas seems to seize new transplants.

    Childless singles and couples relocating will likely find the Inner Loop more attractive, especially if they have not been homeowners before.

  • “there are infinitely more restaurants outside the loop”

    Are you double counting Olive Gardens and Applebees? That might bring your number under infinite.

  • As someone who has lived in the Heights for 20 years, and the inner loop many more years, my message to those other Innerloopers is this: Stop arguing with those in the far flung reaches of South Dallas, East San Antonio, Northeast Austin, etc. I say let them have their new little bubbles of strip malls, endless big box stores, shopping centers, and mostly chain restaurants that have been replicated in every detail coast to coast across suburban America. Don’t boast about the life we have in the Inner Loop and the eclectic things that make Houston unique and spotted on almost every list of all good things in recent months by national magazines and newspapers. Yes, there are great things outside the Loop but already enough of those in the outer reaches have moved in and many of the creative class arriving have taken up residence inside the Loop. We don’t need to encourage any others who would rather have an oversized tract home of the America Dream to realize that so much that makes Houston interesting is orbiting the old center of the Houston universe at Main and Texas downtown to the first outer band known as The Loop.

  • With regards to the comments; I’m sick of the tribalism; and there is no use in pointing fingers before you take a hard look in the mirror. Houston is booming. Get over it. Houston is humid. Get over it. Houston is our home, embrace it…whatever zipcode you reside in.

  • Yes to Heightsite!
    What distresses me about the inward migration is that a lot of people moving in are a whole lot less tolerant–
    less tolerant of people who are darker, make less money, or have less fancier stuff than them.
    Or are gay.
    As the surfers say: If you don’t surf, don’t start.

  • Nothing against people over 50; I will be one very soon. But one of the reasons for the dynamism of Texas is our youthful population. If I wanted to live in a retirement home I’d join my parents in Florida.

  • I am a born & raised Houstonian, inner loop I might add. I have always been an Inner Loop snob and proud of it. I highly encourage anyone that is interested or inclinded whether it is for financial reasons or otherwise, please move out of the loop. Please move to your utopian dream of suburban living, even if it is not distant suburbs. Houston is a dynamic city with something for everyone and personally, I hope that more people desire to blaze trails into the prairie. At the same time, welcome to the Houston of the 21st century where increased density will prevail and redefine Houston as we have always known it. Embrace the change or quit your petty bitching by getting involved in politics and fight for change. There is no doubt that Houston greatly needs some land use restrictions to be implemented but, until you whiners are ready to put your words into action, you will be nothing more than a sniffling whiner. Go forth citizens of Houston and please move to your own personal utopia.

  • You know-it-all peoples crack me up…

  • to the original post, I’m not sure that all of the inner loop will densify as you state. only those areas without deed restrictions. so yes, areas like the heights, most of montrose, washington corridor, etc. will add density, but areas like RO, Royal Oaks, Rice University area, West U, Southside, Bellaire, and other similar areas will remain single family homes (the outskirts of these areas may densify where there are no deed restictions).

  • This anti-renter stuff is just silly. Yes, if your neighborhood is all rentals, there’s a problem. But ideally a neighborhood has a range of options – apartments for young singles and couples, condos for those who want to own but whose lifestyle doesn’t suit ownership of a single family home or who would rather live in a condo in the neighborhood they want than a single-family somewhere they don’t want to do, and single family homes for those who value the space and privacy they offer. The Heights is actually doing really well in this regard. I’ve lived in neighborhoods in other cities with LOTS of rental property and these have often been some of the best places I’ve lived.

    Futhermore – we’re suffering a bit of a hangover in this country because of our fetishization of homeownership. People shouldn’t be buying houses until they can actually afford the mortgage for the long haul, and the costs of maintaining a house. We’d all be better off if some of the people who stretched way too far because owning is supposedly just *better* had chosen rental properties and put some money in the bank.

    Moreover, the drive to homeownership above all is pure social engineering (in the form of tax policy that forgives you your interest payments for owning). Those of you who love the free market should be calling for the abolition of that tax break, which would certainly lead to more people renting, because that’s what they can actually afford when they’re not being subsidized.

    (Not that I’m calling for that; I benefit from it, and it was part of the calculations of what I could afford when I bought my house.)

  • To clarify my original comment, by the way; when I say “lots of people will want to live in the central city” it’s because experience shows us this is true. “Lots of” does not mean “all” and obviously there are people who will prefer farther-out parts of town and suburbs for all kinds of totally valid reasons.

    But there is a reason that close-in properties command much higher values and no, it’s not snotty hipster appeal. It’s easier access to a wider range of employment options, for one. It’s access to a style of life that lots and lots of people strongly prefer, with less time in the car and more access to arts and cultural resources, a wider variety of entertainment options, and so on. It’s not snotty to prefer that, any more than it’s snotty to dislike them and prefer the burbs and a long commute.

    The Heights fills up with people from all over the Metro area every weekend, to the point that once a month there are trolleys shuttling people around and many of us who live here *avoid* our local businesses on First Saturday. I don’t think there’s a “First Saturday” in Kingwood. There’s a reason for that.

  • Markd: Rad find on the video!

    Wow. I need to go find me spandex, that video was so 80’s I had flash backs of the cold war!

    a free VCR!?! Shut up!

  • There is plenty of room for additional densification in the NE and SE portions of the inner loop. Of course, the folks who live there now will be annoyed about losing their convenient location to the rich folks.

  • Harold: Perhaps those types of people venture towards the city center. But i wager either their mentalities assimilate to the the open-, tolerant-, & creative-mindsets or they grow tired of resisting the eclectic aspects that make central locations attractive and eventually remove themselves from the scene. Provincial folks don’t deserve the enrichments that urban living interactions offer.

  • @Commonsense:
    >>Mike, true outer-loopers have more reason to visit inner loop for special events, but that’s all, special events…

    Let’s not forget between downtown, uptown, and the medical center, which are all either in the loop or close to it, you probably have about 500k or more jobs. Of the 2.2 million or whatever in Houston. So even though Houston is a sprawling 650 sq miles, ~30% of the jobs and probably a greater portion of the high paying + high education ones are in these job centers. I know some people reverse commute to the Woodlands or Katy or Energy Corridor, but the loop is still a more important jobs center than these other areas and probably will be until the universe explodes.

    Anyway, point is the inner loop + Uptown areas are more important than the Woodlands to most people in Houston area. In the coming decades, with Chapter 42 + 3 million new people, everything inside the Beltway + west side of town will probably become the new “inside the loop”.

  • Great comment, I for one lived for 5 years in Arlington, VA, so i can attest to how their model of growth along specific corridors is very smart in allowing for density, maintaining character of neighborhood, providing affordable housing, and keeping the area socioeconomically diverse. I live in the heights now and I could definitely see Yale being one of the “growth corridors.” Heck, if Metrorail keeps expanding, Yale would be a perfect route for a new rail, which would do wonders for the neighborhood and be awesomely convenient to get downtown!