Houston's 'Last, Best, Chance' to Create a Walkable, Livable Downtown Neighborhood

In an opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle, John Desmond discusses the findings of a ULI advisory panel tasked with developing recommendations for creating a mixed use 24-hour neighborhood in downtown's east side.

"Favorable national development trends coupled with the strong local real estate market present Houston with a chance to get the redevelopment of the east side of downtown right and create a memorable and unique destination," writes Desmond, the executive vice president of urban planning for the Downtown Denver Partnership. "Alternatively, piecemeal redevelopment can continue as it has in the past, leaving a disjointed and incomplete urban fabric. This could mean that Houston would miss a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pull all the pieces together in this promising area."

"Houston has made the 'big moves' on the east edge of downtown: three major league sports venues, a world-class convention center and a successful public park. To protect and enhance these assets, it is time for the city to be bold at a smaller, street-level scale." Perhaps most significantly, argues Desmond, this means taming the automobile, and focusing on the pedestrian experience, in this notoriously sprawling metropolis.

"The panel believed that the District can and should capitalize on existing attractions but also build a sense of place that is a destination in its own right. This will require high-quality development that stimulates activity, a public realm that celebrates the pedestrian, and a cohesive brand," he concludes. "The area we called the 'Discovery District' is perhaps Houston's last, best, chance to bring the pieces on the east side of Downtown together and get it right."

Full Story: Let's stoke the urban revival on downtown's east side

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