- Here’s the Completed Memorial Park Master Plan, Ready for City Council’s Vote on April 1 [Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot]
- Availability of Office Sublease Space at a 10-Year High in Houston, According to NAI Partners Report [HBJ]
- Harris County Set To Have 3.4M New Residents by 2050, the Most in Texas; Fort Bend To Have 2.1M Newcomers [HBJ]
- The Story Behind the Creation of Houston’s First General Plan [The Architect’s Newspaper]
- New Bills in State Legislature Aim To Get Rid of ‘Equal and Uniform’ Clause at Core of Property Tax Appeal Lawsuits [HBJ]
- Cottonwood, Liberty Station Partners Planning New Montrose Bar La Grange in Former EJ’s Space, Set To Open in Mid-April [Culturemap]
- Del Frisco’s Grille Opening at Hughes Landing in The Woodlands on May 29 [Eater Houston]
- New Hungry’s Designed by Palmer Schooley with Cantilevered Patio Set To Open This Fall Next to Current Location on Rice Blvd. [Houston Chronicle]
- Salata Relocating Downtown HQ to 26K-SF Facility with Test Kitchen at 16720 Park Row in West Houston [HBJ]
- Spare Key Opening in Second-Story Aerie Atop Midtown’s Cook & Collins at 2416 Brazos Later This Month [Food Chronicles]
- The Rise, Fall, and Renewal of the Third Ward as Seen in a Mile-and-a-Half of Holman St. [Houstonia]
Photo of Jersey Lake, Jersey Village: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool
Re: “Equal and Uniform”
*Wah* Poor county having to defend their decision to perpetually raise property values in the name of fattening the city’s/county’s coffers. If values weren’t “Appraised” at the upper limit every year perhaps people wouldn’t think they’re getting scammed and not file a protest every year.
Hungry’s is being built at a snail’s pace. I feel like it’s been under construction for 4 years now.
so they want to make a pedestrian overpass at memorial where the teletubbies can live?
I am afraid you are missing the point of the uniform and equal statutes in the tax code. These properties aren’t saying that their values are too high in relation to their actual value (in downtown property sells for almost twice what the district appraises it at) they are saying it’s too high in comparison to their neighbors as a relation to market value of the property.
I’m loving this Memorial park plan. Let’s get it done.
cottonwood is so well designed and managed, its a fav of mine………………
Bill: To be fair, people will still protest regardless. I’ll admit that I protest all buildings (well, a service does) as a matter of course each year. Most of which I know are under their market value (read: what I could sell for).
The best way to stop HCAD from over assessing is a law that would force them to buy at their assessed value (minus x%). So if they want to argue a $100k dump is really worth $200k, make them buy it for $200k minus x% (say, 20%). That way, if it’s really worth $200k like they say, they should be happy to buy it for $160k, right?
You could keep the owners ‘honest’ the same way. If you protest that it’s not worth what HCAD says, they (or maybe anyone) has the right to buy at HCAD value +x% if you protest. After all, if you say your $200k assessed value place is only worth $100k, why not sell for $140k? Oh, because it’s worth more? That’s not what you just said.
Boom. Problem solved.
The Memorial Park plan is impressive in scope and potential price. While I am an advocate for almost anything park related, this seems absolutely over the top and unecessary. In my mind, the added space and possiblity for an connected park just do not merit the exorbitant cost. It strikes me as financially irresponsible to float so much debt to acomplish this plan, regardless of whether the city or a TIRZ is footing the bill,; ultimately it is the tax payer that is on the hook. I hope…? the city council will see the need to send this back for further consideration and drafting.
The cost is high because the park is huge. Memorial Park has the potential to be a world-class destination and selecting Thomas Woltz was the first step towards making that happen. <$140,000/acre to restore and revitalize this massive urban park and propel it into the future doesn't sound exorbitant to me.
Cody – your proposal is exactly what I thought of last year when I was protesting my 50% increase in assessment last year. I would have LOVED to have sold my house for their value, minus 20%.
I am not a fan of the Memorial Park master plan. In my opinion, it gets rid of one of the greatest things about Memorial Park — that so much of it is just “wild” and not master-planned. We have Hermann Park as a beautiful master-planned park. And once the work is done, Buffalo Bayou Park will be another very nice master-planned park. But Memorial Park is like the anti-Hermann Park — nobody planned most of it, it just happened. And nature took over, giving you something you can’t otherwise experience without going outside the beltway. You can even find ruins of the old Camp Logan deep into the park!
While I think what is planned for Memorial Park is very cool on its own (and I applaud Nelson Byrd Woltz for doing such a great job on the plan), and I agree that the park would be very nice a couple decades after it’s finished (to give time for the trees to grow up again), I don’t think I agree that this is the right direction for us to take with this particular park. If they do this, we’ll no longer have a way to get into an untamed wilderness without driving to the suburbs.
The Memorial Plan is going nowhere fast. Some of the ideas are quite good and some are absurd. There seems to be disagreement within the Conservancy and there are some serious critics of this plan. Memorial Park is world class now and everything done should be within the extrapolated wishes of Miss Ima. The Hoggs wanted an unspoiled forest not some 200 million dollar glamour project by some bored Junior Leaguers. In the end Memorial will look much more like it does currently than this muti million dollar hubris by people who claim to love this beautiful park.
Untamed wilderness that people also use is impossible in the city. That’s not what Memorial Park is now and that’s not what Memorial Park was when the Hoggs bought it. I agree that Memorial Park should not be another Hermann Park but that’s not what I see in the master plan. Memorial Park in its current state is, indeed, one form of “natural” but it’s not by any means a wilderness. Invasive species, roads, trains, a golf course all make for an extremely impacted environment and an ecology shaped as much by the city as by what existed there a hundred years ago. Furthermore, the theory of climax vegetation has been debunked. If this land were truly a wilderness there’s no guarantee that it would remain forest. In Ima Hogg’s time the idea that forest was an ecological end state without intervention was still the prevalent understanding of ecological succession, but this is not current scientific thinking and today we know that it’s a little more complicated than that. If nothing is done to Memorial today, we won’t have an unspoiled forest in the future.
About property tax legislation and commercial valuation. The thing that I want to see is a requirement that all appraisal districts (or at least those in the most populous counties) publish their cost studies and furthermore that they are required to reconcile their cost model to a reasonable number of independently-confirmed sales comparables that have been analyzed using a standard set of techniques.
I’ve seen where HCAD has bad sales comps, and when repeatedly presented with actual closing documents, refuses to update their records — year after year, for years at a time. Instead, they keep using the bad information as evidence against property owners that don’t know any better. I have seen where they have made mathematical errors in their analysis and they would refuse to acknowledge it on the record, much less go back and re-notice the affected class of properties. I was even able to get my hands on one of their cost studies, and they would dramatically revise their valuations for every property in the county on only a handful of comps (or as few as one!) for each land use. All of this stuff goes on behind the scenes. The really scary thing is, many of the smaller counties are able to operate on worse standards than these.
About Memorial Park, I happen to like this plan in general. There are a few things that I’d change. I do think that Memorial Park should reflect an embracing of nature; I do not think that it should be natural. Hiking, biking, jogging, and equestrian trails, and even the roads through it should be an experience where for a brief moment one can leave behind the thriving city. The contiguous space that is afforded by the park’s layout and the weave of different types of trails can often accomplish that, even with very heavy public use. The transitioning from pine forest with numerous invasives to a mixed ecology with more native plants is probably what climate change will bring about one way or the other over time. Go with it.
I do feel that there are better sites or better uses for the land containing the sports fields and the natatorium. Stuff like that can be sited anywhere. Just because the space exists to accommodate it and just because that makes the park universally appealing does not mean that it fits will within a strategy that should be pursued by the City. I am dubious about the “glades” and the “pine grove” as well — and actually the golf course needs to justify itself. Houston has other golf courses that aren’t doing well. Perhaps folding the resources from one golf course into the others would enable the others to perform better. Maybe we just don’t need as many golf courses as we have.