And now, a very special category in the 2011 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate is open for voting! What makes it so special? Well, the word “special” is in the name of the award, for one thing. It’s our Award for Special Achievement in Sprawl. Are you ready to vote for the winner?
The official nominees in this category — as nominated by Swamplot readers — are listed below. Now’s your chance to vote — which you can do up to 4 times if you follow our rules: once in a comment below, once in an email to Swamplot, once using Twitter, and once by scribbling on the wall of Swamplot’s page on Facebook. That not enough for you? Then recruit your friends to vote, too! But make sure you get all the votes in by the deadline: 5 pm on Tuesday, December 27th.
And now, the official nominees for the Award for Special Achievement in Sprawl:
1. Houston’s Reverse Sprawl. “Outside the Loop, developers are at last creating big new mixed-use redevelopment projects (such as CityCentre) and even fitting urban-style grocery stores into older ones (the new Whole Foods coming to Blvd. Place near the Galleria). Meanwhile, it seems every time a large parcel of land opens up inside the Loop it gets filled with strip malls, Walmarts, and suburban-style grocery stores. The city has revived its plan to allow dense residential development outside the Loop; it’s simultaneously been encouraging suburban-sprawl-style development inside the Loop with free money for infrastructure upgrades through 380 agreements.”
2. Proposed Expansion of Houston’s “Urban Area” from the 610 Loop to Beltway 8. “The ‘urban’ designation in the city’s development ordinance allows developers to build denser neighborhoods with smaller lot sizes. This new approach would keep outside-the-Beltway Greenspoint and much of Westchase suburban, but the little single-family neighborhoods that are near them but inside the Beltway would become urban.”
3. New ExxonMobil Corporate Campus, Spring. “For trying to create yet another ‘energy corridor’ — many miles away from the others.”
“Pulling all those office workers from in-town sites like the Bell St. tower downtown, the research center on Buffalo Speedway, and the offices at 290 and Dacoma and forcing them to slog through traffic on an already crowded I-45 — that’s truly sprawl genius.“
4. The Sprawl of “River Oaks.” “Why is ‘River Oaks’ part of the name of so many shops within a 10-mile radius of Inner Loop Westheimer? I get it, River Oaks is fancy. But the guy checking the air in my tires and putting extra starch in my collar isn’t. I can forgive the geographically challenged doggie daycares and florists who co-opted the RO name; I just don’t get the dry cleaners and oil-change places doing it.”
5. Segment E of the Grand Parkway, now slicing through the Katy Prairie. “The ‘one road to ring them all’ just took out an entire Chinese army this year. How’s that for the power of sprawl? Here’s to Houston, for continuing to fund road projects where people do not live, destroying entire ecosystems in the process.”
6. Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. “Would sprawl 1,700 miles from Calgary to Houston, carrying crude oil from Canadian tar sands here for further refinement. By comparison, it makes the Grand Parkway and the new Exxon Campus seem close-in.“
Okay, Houston sprawl connoisseurs! Which one of these fine efforts truly deserves the Award for Special Achievement in Sprawl?
- How To Vote in the 2011 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2011 [Swamplot]