Livable Centers Studies

The City of Houstonv (COH) has been awarded Livable Centers Study funds by the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) for implementation in multiple study areas to create walkable, mixed-use places that provide multimodal transportation options, improve environmental quality and promote economic development.

By 2035, the eight-county Houston-Galveston region is expected to grow by an additional 3.5 million people. This growth will add negative pressure to the region’s transportation network unless vehicle trips are reduced. H-GAC’s 2035 Regional Transportation Plan lays out a strategy to address this growth - Livable Centers. These places are safe, convenient, and attractive areas where people can live, work, and play with less reliance on their cars.

To find more information about H-GAC Livable Centers program, click here.



Washington Avenue Corridor

The focus of the Washington Avenue Corridor Livable Center study will be along Washington Avenue; however the larger study area to be considered is approximately four miles in length and extends west from I-45 to the Westcott Circle, north to I-10 and south to Memorial Drive. Over the last decade the area has seen increased redevelopment of parcels along the corridor into a variety of uses including single family, multi-family residential and retail/commercial. It has rapidly become a lively corridor and citywide entertainment attraction with small bar/restaurant venues and new thriving businesses. The corridor serves as an important traffic connection to Downtown and contains a mixture of land uses ranging from single family residential, commercial to industrial. It also includes significant public and institutional uses located near Downtown; in addition to significant parkland on the southern and western edges including Buffalo Bayou and Memorial Park. The area has been a focus for potential Commuter and or Light Rail extension and currently serves as an important railroad freight route. The population within the study area is ethnically diverse with a mix in income levels (see map below).

PARTNERING AGENCIES:
Texas Department of Transportation
Houston-Galveston Area Council
City of Houston
Better Houston

SCHEDULED TIME FRAME
February 2012 - January 2013

CONSULTANT TEAM

Primary: Asakura Robinson
Team: ARUP
  Damon Williams Consulting
  Morris Architects
  RCLCO
  SWA Group
  Traffic Engineers, Inc.
COH Coordinator: Amar Mohite

STUDY COMPONENTS

The overall vision of the study is to create a Livable Centers plan for the Washington Avenue Corridor study area that will lead to a sustainable, context-sensitive, unique environment serving as a desirable place to live, work, and play. The Washington Avenue corridor currently has a mix of uses and is redeveloping and densifying, however, the existing new development is fragmented and infrastructure along the corridor is in a poor condition discouraging pedestrian and bicycle mobility. The study should result in practical implementation strategies, to improve the quality of the living/working/civic environment along the corridor and in the immediate area. It should enhance the corridor as an urban destination which is mixed-use, walkable, transit-served, characterized by diverse housing and employment choices, thriving shops and businesses, vibrant street life, civic amenities and exciting entertainment and cultural activities.
 

Midtown and Mixed-Use/Transit Oriented Development Plan for Code Enforcement Building

The study area is centered around the Ensemble/HCC station along the Main Street Light Rail Line and the City of Houston Code Enforcement building located at 3300 Main in the Midtown neighborhood in the City of Houston. The study area encompasses roughly a quarter mile radius surrounding the identified marker points, roughly bounded by Rosalie Ave. to the north, Austin St. to the east, Isabella St. to the south, and Spur 527 to the west.

PARTNERING AGENCIES:
Texas Department of Transportation
Houston-Galveston Area Council
City of Houston

SCHEDULED TIME FRAME
July 2009 - May 2010

CONSULTANT TEAM

Primary: Morris Architects
Team: Bay Area Economics
  CDS/Spillette
  Design Workshop
  Knudson Associates
  Nelson NYGAARD
  Walter P. Moore
COH Coordinator: Diana Ponce De Leon

STUDY COMPONENTS

The overall vision of the study is to further the goals of the Livable Centers program by focusing on mobility and identifying transportation infrastructure investments that will make walking, bicycling and transit more convenient; identifying unique characteristics of the area that will promote projects for investment and enhance pedestrian mobility and safety.

The Livable Centers study serves as a master plan for the overall defined area that analyzes the safety and quality of the pedestrian environment, identifies existing as well as potential future pedestrian generators, and provides design solutions for an enhanced, attractive and safe pedestrian environment. The study includes a catalyst project for the City of Houston’s previous Code Enforcement Center at 3300 Main Street which is now to be developed into a multi-purpose arts facility. Other streetscape improvements along Holman and Alabama Street are under implementation.

Upper Kirby (University Light Rail) and Northside (North Light Rail) Corridors

There are two separate study areas for this project, Upper Kirby and Northside. Each study area is along a future METRO light rail corridor within the City of Houston.

PARTNERING AGENCIES:
Texas Department of Transportation
Houston-Galveston Area Council
City of Houston
Upper Kirby Management District
Greater Northside Management District

The Upper Kirby study area encompasses the future “Kirby Station” of the University light rail along Richmond Avenue, and the boundaries of the study area extend to roughly Buffalo Speedway to the West, W. Alabama to the North, Greenbriar to the East, and US 59 to the South.

The Northside study area encompasses roughly a quarter mile radius surrounding the identified future light rail stations at Burnett Plaza, Quitman, Boundary, and Moody Park. The boundaries of the study area are roughly I-10 to the South, I-45 to the West, Patton Street to the North, and Elysian St/Cochran St. to the East.

SCHEDULED TIME FRAME
November 2009 - August 2010

CONSULTANT TEAM

Primary: Van Meter Williams Pollack
Team: Asakura Robinson
  INFILL
  Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc, (LAN)
  Strategic Economics
COH Coordinator: Diana Ponce De Leon

STUDY COMPONENTS

Upper Kirby Livable Centers Study

The overall vision for Upper Kirby is to create a place with a strong local identity that is economically health, vibrant, connected, walkable, and green. The study also seeks to build off of public and private investments that guide short and long term growth. The study also seeks to build off of public and private investments that guide short and long term growth. The future MetroRail through Upper Kirby provides an important public investment in the neighborhood that can help to initiate this goal.

  • Examining and providing strategies to improve the pedestrian realm around the future Kirby light rail station as well as around the Upper Kirby District’s proposed community outreach/civic center development (located along Richmond between Eastside and Wakeforest).

Creating and supporting connected, walkable, public spaces within the study area, focusing on existing public spaces along Richmond between Eastside and Wakeforest as well as potential future public space.

Key study recommendations include:

  • Creation of auto and pedestrian connections that help facilitate neighborhood connectivity throughout the District.
  • Improved sidewalks and streetscape amenities along key arterials including West Alabama Street, Richmond Avenue, Kirby Drive, Eastside Street and Greenbriar Street.
  • Encouragement of additional safe pedestrian crossings of Richmond Avenue and Kirby Drive.
  • Identification of properties that could be utilized as greenspace including small neighborhood parks, pocket parks and community gardens.
  • Celebration of Levy Park and the creation of greater pedestrian access to this important existing open space.
  • Promotion of the Gallery area as both a neighborhood and regional amenity.
  • Exploration of shared parking districts throughout the neighborhood in conjunction with new development.
  • Promotion of the Civic Center District as the “heart” of Upper Kirby with both public and private investment.

STUDY COMPONENTS

Northside Livable Centers Study

The overall vision for Northside is to create a place with a strong local identity that is safe, connected, walkable, vibrant and green while preserving and enhancing existing historic and cultural resources. The study also seeks to build off of public and private investments that guide short and long term growth. The future MetroRail through Northside provides an important public investment in the neighborhood that can help to initiate this goal.

  • Creating and supporting connected, walkable, public spaces within the area that will attract people to the area and encourage more transit usage. Strong consideration should be given to strategies that enhance the pedestrian realm and neighborhood connectivity of the future light rail stations within the study area as well as the existing Hernandez Tunnel.
  • Preserving the quality of life in adjacent lower density residential neighborhoods, including minimizing the impacts of traffic and parking on local streets.
Key study recommendations include:
  • Encouragement of mixed use retail development along the future Northside MetroRail while supporting efforts to ensure that existing businesses and residents benefit from the new transit service.
  • Celebration of Quitman at Fulton Street as the “heart” of Northside and creating “Festival Streets” along those corridors to build on the history and culture of the neighborhood.
  • Encouragement of pedestrian and streetscape improvements along main north-south and east-west streets as well as streets with close proximity of new transit stations.
  • Encouragement of new development within the southern section (borders downtown area) of the neighborhood including the Hardy Yards District, University of Houston – Downtown District and Warehouse District.

Final Report Upper Kirby (PDF) 50.3MB
Final Report Northside (PDF) 46.3MB

Fourth Ward/Freedmen's Town

The study area includes the entire boundary of the Fourth Ward/Freedmen’s Town Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) no. 14.

SCHEDULED TIME FRAME
March 2010- November 2010

CONSULTANT TEAM

Primary: Design Workshop
Team: Michael Willis Architects
  Morris Architects
  RCLCO
  Walter P. Moore
COH Coordinator: Diana Ponce De Leon

STUDY COMPONENTS

The study focused on developing a master plan for the Fourth Ward Freedmen’s Town TIRZ paying particular attention to the safety and quality of the pedestrian environment, integration with transit of existing as well as potential future pedestrian generators. Special consideration was provided in the form of redevelopment options targeting a City owned property of approximately 12.5 acres. The site included a previously designated park site, a motor vehicle maintenance facility, and gas station. The redevelopment options of the Gillette Maintenance Facility encouraged uses that would support the area’s existing employers and residents.

Key study recommendations include:

  • Forty-five projects including the creation of centers, affordable housing, preservation of cultural history, enhancement of streets and infrastructure, parks and open space, and parking.
  • Emphasis was placed on enhancement of mixed use (commercial, residential, office) centers, improved connectivity, and protection of history and culture of the community.
  • An implementation strategy for each project including cost estimates, responsible parties, priorities, and funding sources when applicable.

Final Report (PDF) 30.8MB

For more information about the Livable Center Studies, please contact: Diana Ponce De Leon at 713-837-7892 or Diana.PonceDeLeon@houstontx.gov