12/01/15 10:00am

UT Houston Campus Site, Buffalo Lakes, Houston

Some zoomy conceptual renderings of the University of Texas’s coming Houston campus, centered on the largely undeveloped intersection of Buffalo Spdwy. and Willowbend Blvd., made their debut at last month’s Board of Regents meeting, where the intended purchase of land for the project was announced. Buffalo Spdwy. gently winds through the drawings of the new campus to a track and several baseball diamonds along Holmes Rd. (which runs horizontally across the top of the image above).

Although the images are only “concepts”, the pictures do provide a sense of how the campus might unfold: For example, that linear water feature shown at the center of the campus aligns with an existing drainage ditch on the property, and the 3 long, low structures in the foreground are good candidates for parking garages, which will be needed regardless of the new institution’s yet-to-be-decided purpose.

Existing residential communities and industrial parks are here rendered as sparsely-treed fields — the boundary of the land slated for purchase by UT currently houses several apartment complexes on the north side and the Orkin Industrial Surplus facility to the south.

But another conceptual rendering (this one looking northwest across Holmes Rd. towards the distant Williams Tower) shows the campus in place amongst some of its eclectic neighbors:


Welcome to the neighborhood
10/17/12 5:50pm

Texas’s Department of Transportation has just announced the kickoff of a 2-year, $14 million study of options for new passenger rail service between the state’s “major metropolitan areas” and Oklahoma City. Funded by a grant from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the state of Oklahoma, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and TxDOT itself, the study will compare options for enhancing existing Amtrak routes and building a new high-speed rail backbone through the state, as well as the possibility of public-private partnerships, the agency says. The proposed north-south route would connect San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas to its northern neighbor. (That follows the FRA’s longstanding designation of high-speed rail corridors; the federal agency’s proposed map of the South Central region is shown above.)

But what about, um, that other major metropolitan area nearby?


09/02/09 5:05pm

THE PATH OF COMMUTER RAIL Which area freight rail routes might share their tracks with commuter rail lines? Probably not the Union Pacific line along U.S. 90A to Sugar Land. “But two other freight lines have less traffic, and Union Pacific is working with government planners to free them up for commuter trains. One runs out the U.S. 290 corridor and one runs along Texas 3 to Galveston. TxDOT is considering granting $2 million in stimulus funds for two engineering studies on those routes. ‘My goal is to have trains running in three years,’ said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. The engineering studies will design routes that bring suburban commuters to the 610 Loop, but no farther. The freight traffic inside the Loop is still too busy, and although there is an abandoned rail line, it runs right through the Heights — a politically vocal neighborhood. ‘That’s not something I want to take on,’ said Emmett. The compromise is to build some commuter lines now, connect them to light rail or bus lines, and figure out later how to get them inside the Loop, to downtown.” [Houston Chronicle]

08/07/07 11:05pm

Former HISD Central Administration Building on Richmond

Proposed Costco on Richmond

The building was simply too big, too lavish, too expensive, too outmoded, and too hot a property for a school district to keep. The site was prime real estate, near the projected path of a new rail line, and perfect—said the buyers—for a dense “New Urbanist-style” mixed-use center. The big concrete box surrounded by parking just didn’t seem to make sense. So after HISD sold its Central Administration building on Richmond at Weslayan, Trammell Crow Co. had it razed last year to make the site ready for new, fresher, denser development.

And the new development is . . . a Costco! With an LA Fitness above it! Plus some outside-the-mall-style pad sites in a big surface parking lot facing Richmond! A small parking garage too. Oh, and an apartment complex tucked in back.

What happened?

[Trammell Crow project manager Craig] Cheney said the project had quietly shifted direction some time ago.

“We looked around, and we had all these competing projects with integrated residential, office and retail, all competing for the same few retailers,” he said. “Life is too short to get into that kind of situation.”

So the project — which had an initial design including a hotel, high-rise and garden homes, a bookstore, grocery store and other features integrated into one “village” — took on a different form.

Shorter version: Costco wanted the site, so the developers jumped at the chance for some of that inside-the-loop big-box excitement.

After our jump, dreamy architect sketches of Paseo, the mixed-use European-style “lifestyle center” Trammell Crow and the Morgan Group waved in front of us for a brief, shining moment in our—yes, too-short lives.