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Welcome to the Clay & Company Blog

Clay & Company is a Houston-based commercial real estate brokerage, investment, and auction company serving the needs of governmental agencies, financial institutions, insurance companies, and individuals 
throughout the State of T
exas.

Our regularly updated blog covers local and national news, events, and happenings affecting Texas and the commercial real estate industry.

Category Archives: Urban Planning

Imagine Austin

imagine-austin-comprehensive-plan-logoThe Austin City Council voted 7-0 June 15 to adopt Imagine Austin, the City’s comprehensive plan for Austin’s future.

Imagine Austin was designed as a two-year process kicked off in October of 2009.
During Phase One, the City hired a consulting firm with experience guiding cities through creating strategic and comprehensive plans, in addition to subconsultants specializing in targeted community outreach. Together City of Austin staff and the consultant team toured the community and interviewed civic and business leaders, institutional partners, and subject-matter experts.

The City Council also appointed Austin citizens to serve on a Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Task Force to work with the consultant team and City staff to help all members of the community articulate common values that will guide Austin into the future.

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The City conducted a Community Inventory, a large data bank on Austin capturing: Demographics & household trends; Natural environment; Land use and

zoning; Economic development and employment trends; Housing and neighborhood conditions; Transportation; Public utilities; Parks and recreation; Community facilities; Historic Austin; Urban design and urban form

Phase Two was a thorough effort to reach all of Austin with information and feedback and ideas about Imagine Austin. Nearly 5,000 Austinites selected a

preferred growth scenario. Meetings with neighborhood leaders also began addressing how existing and new Neighborhood Plans will sync with the comprehensive plan.

Phase three is implementation and includes the meeting on June 15.

The plan defines where the city is today and where the community wants it to go. The plan includes implementation guidelines and the following priority programs:

  1. A compact, connected Austin with improved transportation options.
  2. Sustainably managed water resources.
  3. Invest in Austin’s workforce, education systems and entrepreneurs.
  4. Protect environmentally sensitive areas and integrate nature into the City.
  5. Invest in Austin’s creative economy.
  6. Develop and maintain household affordability throughout Austin.
  7. Create a “Healthy Austin” program.
  8. Revise Austin’s land development regulations and processes.

Planning Commission Chair Dave Sullivan, an active participant in creating the plan, said by 2039 Austin may have hundreds of thousands more residents.

“Having a periodically updated plan will help us to channel that growth to preserve what we find most important today, to spend our resources more effectively and efficiently, and to spread benefits and opportunities more fairly so that Austin becomes a model city,” Sullivan said.

Source: Imagine Austin via RECON

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The Distinctive City

By Edward T. McMahon for The Urban Land Institute

21392166950114346_T2MUNDJS_fAround the world, cities are seeking the recipe for economic success in a rapidly changing global marketplace. Indispensable assets in a post–industrial economy include: well–educated people, the ability to generate new ideas and to turn those ideas into commercial realities, connectivity to global markets, and multi-modal transportation infrastructure. Another critical—but often forgotten—asset is community distinctiveness.

If I have learned anything from my career in urban planning, it is this: a community’s appeal drives economic prosperity. I have also learned that, while change is inevitable, the destruction of a community’s unique character and identity is not. Progress does not demand degraded surroundings. Communities can grow without destroying the things that people love.

In 2010, the Knight Foundation teamed up with Gallup pollsters to survey 43,000 people in 26 cities (where Knight-Ridder had newspapers). The so-called Soul of the Community Survey was designed to answer questions such as: What makes residents love where they live? What attracts people to a place and keeps them there?

The study found that the most important factors that create emotional bonds between people and their community were not jobs and the economy, but rather “physical beauty, opportunities for socializing and a city’s openness to all people.” The Knight Foundation also found that communities with the highest levels of attachment also had the highest rates of gross domestic product growth and the strongest economies.

Place is more than just a location on a map. A sense of place is a unique collection of qualities and characteristics – visual, cultural, social, and environmental – that provide meaning to a location. Sense of place is what makes one city or town different from another, but sense of place is also what makes our physical surroundings worth caring about.

Author Wallace Stegner once said, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” We all need points of reference and orientation. A community’s unique identity provides that orientation, while also adding economic and social value. To foster distinctiveness, cities must plan for built environments and settlement patterns that are both uplifting and memorable and that foster a sense of belonging and stewardship by residents.

Planners spend most of their time focusing on numbers – the number of units per acre, the number of cars per hour, the number of floors per building. In the future, they will need to spend more time thinking about the values, customs, characteristics and quirks that make a place worth caring about. Unfortunately, many communities are suffering the social and economic consequences of losing their distinctiveness.

When it comes to 21st century economic development, a key concept is community differentiation. If you can’t differentiate your community from any other, you have no competitive advantage.

Capital is footloose in a global economy. Natural resources, highway access, locations along a river or rail line have all become less important. Education, technology, connectivity, and distinctiveness have all become more important. Joseph Cortright, a leading economic development authority and president and chief economist of Impresa, a consulting firm specializing in regional economic analysis, says that “the unique characteristics of place may be the only truly defensible source of competitive advantage for communities.” Likewise, Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class says, “How people think of a place is less tangible, but more important than just about anything else.”

Unfortunately, the subtle differences between places are disappearing. Today, if you were suddenly dropped along a road outside of most American cities or towns, you wouldn’t have the slightest idea where you were because it all looks the same, including the building materials, the architectural styles, the chain stores, and the outdoor advertising. Technology and the global economy make it easy for building plans drawn up at a corporate office in New Jersey to be applied over and over again in Portland, Phoenix, Philadelphia or a thousand other communities. Over the past 50 years many of the world’s cityscapes and townscapes have gone from the unique to the uniform, from the stylized to the standardized.

In recent months, there have been several surveys published, such as Zipcar’s “Future Metropolis Index” and Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Cities” list, ranking cities based on sustainability, innovation and efficiency. Some of the factors that were evaluated included the number of green buildings, the percentage of hybrid cars and the number of patents issued. These are all important, but sustainability is about more than new technologies. At its most basic, “sustainable” means enduring. A sustainable community is a place of enduring value. Doug Kelbaugh, the dean of the University of Michigan School of Architecture, put it this way, “If a building, a landscape or a city is not beautiful, it will not be loved; if it is not loved, it won’t be maintained and improved. In short, it won’t be sustained.”

Distinctiveness involves streetscapes, architecture, and historic preservation but as Cortright points out, it also involves cultural events and facilities, restaurants and food, parks and open space and many other factors. “Keep Austin Weird” is more than a slogan; it is a recipe for economic success. A distinctive city is a city that the young and well-educated want to live in, that boomers want to retire to, and most certainly a city that people want to visit.

According to The World Bank and the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism is the largest industry in the world. Tourism is about visiting places that are different, unusual and unique. The more one city comes to look and feel just like every other city, the less reason there is to visit. On the other hand, the more a city does to enhance its uniqueness, whether that is cultural, natural or architectural, the more people will want to visit. It is no accident that Paris – a city that looks and feels different – gets 27 million visitors per year, more than any city on the planet, according to Lonely Planet.

Arthur Frommer, one of the world’s leading travel experts and founder of the well-known travel guide company, says that among cities and towns with no recreational appeal, those that preserve their past continue to enjoy tourism. Those that haven’t, receive almost no tourism at all. Frommer has been quoted as saying,“Tourists simply won’t go to a city that has lost its soul.”

In the future, planners will have to help communities adapt to change while maintaining or enhancing the things that they value most. Lyman Orton, the principal of the Orton Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization which supports community development, calls this “heart and soul planning.” It is both a process and a philosophy. The process seeks to engage as many people as possible in community decision making. The philosophy recognizes that special places, characteristics and customs have value. Given all this, I believe that one of the big questions for cities in the future will be: Do you want the character of your city to shape the new development, or do you want the new development to shape the character of the city?

Image Source: Pictometry International Corp

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US Growth Of Distant Suburbs Falls To Historic Low

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stung by high gasoline costs, outlying suburbs that sprouted in the heady 2000s are now seeing their growth fizzle to historic lows, halting American city dwellers’ decades-long exodus to sprawling homes in distant towns.

New census estimates as of July 2011 highlight a shift in population trends following an extended housing bust and renewed spike in oil prices. Two years after the recession technically ended, and despite faint signs of a rebound, Americans again are shunning moves at record levels and staying put in big cities.

That is posing longer-term consequences for residential “exurbs” on the edge of metropolitan areas.

Construction of gleaming new schools and mega-malls built in anticipation of a continued population boom is cutting back. Spacious McMansions offering the promise of homeownership to middle-class families sit abandoned or half-built. Once an escape from urban problems, suburban regions hit by foreclosures are posting bigger jumps in poverty than cities.

The result: The annual rate of growth in American cities and surrounding urban areas has now surpassed that of exurbs for the first time in at least 20 years, spanning the modern era of sprawling suburban development.

“The heyday of exurbs may well be behind us,” Yale University economist Robert J. Shiller said. Shiller, co-creator of a Standard & Poor’s housing index, is perhaps best known for identifying the risks of a U.S. housing bubble before it actually burst in 2006-2007. Examining the current market, Shiller believes America is now at a turning point, shifting away from faraway suburbs in the long term amid persistently high gasoline prices.

Demographic changes also play a role: They include young singles increasingly delaying marriage and childbirth and thus more apt to rent and a graying population that in its golden years may prefer closer-in, walkable urban centers.

“Suburban housing prices may not recover in our lifetime,” Shiller said, calling the development of suburbs since 1950 “unusual” and enabled only by the rise of the automobile and the nation’s highway system. “With the bursting of the bubble, we may be discovering the pleasures of the city and the advantages of renting, investing our money not in a single house but in a diversified portfolio.”

The signs of longer-term bust are evident in places such as Kendall County, Ill., an outlying suburb of 116,000 people located about 50 miles southwest of Chicago. The nation’s No. 1 fastest-growing county from 2000 to 2010, Kendall was part of an exurban wave that more than doubled Kendall’s population and helped lift GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush to victory in 2004, offering Republicans the hope of a new era of conservative voters sprouting on the rural-urban edge.

By the late 2000s, however, Kendall County’s growth began to wane amid recession and rising gasoline costs. The county, like many other exurbs, eventually turned to Illinois Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race for economic answers. By 2011, Kendall County’s annual growth had stalled further at 1 percent, dropping its county growth-rate rank to 236th.

Things were especially turbulent over the past 10 years for real estate agent George Richter, who has worked in Kendall County for more than two decades.

“New home construction couldn’t be built fast enough,” he said. “A lot of us in the industry were very, very nervous about how fast and large the annual growth rate and property value were. We knew there’s no way that something could continue on.” Now, he said, there’s little new construction.

Jeff Wehrli, a longtime Kendall County board member who runs an excavating company, said the signs of the slowdown are most apparent from devalued homes, foreclosures and a general uncertainty among residents.

“It’s going to take a while,” he said, speaking of a local recovery that he acknowledges will never reach the same levels as last decade. “Our economy has got to get back to the point where people can confidently sign off on a 40-year mortgage.”

About 10.6 million Americans reside in the nation’s exurbs, just 5 percent of the number in large metropolitan areas. That number represents annual growth of just 0.4 percent from 2010, smaller than the 0.8 percent growth rate for cities and their surrounding urban areas. It also represents the largest one-year growth drop for exurbs in at least 20 years.

By comparison, in 2006 exurban communities grew at an annual rate of 2.1 percent, compared with a population loss of 0.2 percent for inner cities.

In all, 99 of the 100 fastest-growing exurbs and outer suburbs saw slower or no growth in 2011 compared with the mid-decade housing peak — the exception being Spotsylvania County, Va., located on the outskirts of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, which has boomed even in the downturn. Nearly three-fourths of the top 100 outer suburban areas also saw slower growth compared with 2010, hurt by $3-a-gallon gasoline last year that has since climbed $1 higher.

Other areas showing big slowdowns are Pinal County outside Phoenix; Barrow, Paulding and Pike counties near Atlanta; Union and York counties outside Charlotte, N.C.; and Sandoval County near Albuquerque, N.M.

“The sting of this experience may very well put the damper on the long-held view among young families and new immigrants that building a home in the outer suburbs is a quick way to achieve the American dream,” said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who analyzed the census data.

Over the past decade, the number of poor people living in the suburbs of major metro areas grew 53 percent, compared with 23 percent in cities. Suburbs were also home to roughly one-third of the nation’s poor population, outranking cities and rural areas.

The latest census data come amid an overall U.S. growth rate in 2011 of 0.9 percent, the lowest since the mid-1940s, due to fewer births and less immigration following the recent recession.

Fewer people are also moving around within the nation’s borders — just 11.6 percent of the nation’s population moved to a new home, the lowest since the government began tracking such information in 1948. That means fewer Americans are migrating to residential hot spots in the suburbs or Sun Belt metro areas such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Atlanta, upending several of the population trends of the 2000s.

Metro areas showing renewed growth or slower losses last year included Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and Detroit, where steep population drops in the downturn have largely bottomed out.

Other findings:

—Rural counties just beyond the edge of metropolitan areas saw growth drop sharply last year, hurt by the slowing of outward sprawl. From 2010-2011, these counties increased by 30,000 people on average, compared with annual growth of 174,000 in the 2000-2010 period, according to Kenneth Johnson, sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire.

As a whole, nonmetropolitan areas last year grew 0.1 percent, compared with 0.9 percent for large metro areas and 0.6 percent for small metropolitan areas.

—Texas had four of the nation’s fastest-growing large metropolitan areas: Austin, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.

The census estimates used local records of births and deaths, Internal Revenue Service records of people moving within the United States and census statistics on immigrants. The estimates were for both counties and metropolitan areas, which include cities and surrounding suburbs.

Source

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ULI competition for new Houston Post Office

Article via Culturemap

The downtown Houston Post Office and Processing Center opened in 1962 with a well-publicized ceremony that included the reading of a letter from President John F. Kennedy.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a national non-profit dedicated to promoting responsible development projects, recently selected the downtown USPS lot near the intersection of I-10 and I-45 as the focus of its 10th annual Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition.

From almost 140 participating groups across the nation, four final teams — from the University of Michigan, University of California–Berkley, Columbia University and a joint team from Harvard and the University of Colorado — were chosen in February.

Each group is required to have at least one non-designer in its mix, leaving room for ideas from students working in fields like real estate, finance and even psychology.

“There are two juries who select the winner,” said ULI communications manager Robert Krueger, noting the first place award of $50,000 and the $10,000 cash prizes for the remaining three finalists. “One looks at the financials and another at the actual design. In the end, we want cities to be able to look at these projects and ideas as possibly viable solutions.”

See below for the finalists. Which one is your favorite?

2_UIL_Post_Office_project_March_2012.800w_600hThe Downtown Houston post office built in 1962
ulihoustonpostoffice1 “The Post” plan by Columbia University, one of the few teams to repurpose the original post office.

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“The Hill” plan by students of the University of Michigan

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“Downtown BaYOU,” University of Colorado/Harvard University

ulihoustonpostoffice2

“The Grand” by students from the University of California, Berkeley

Source

All renderings are courtesy of ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition.

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Houston 3.0

Yesterday we posted about Houston’s “Third Loop,” the Grand Parkway, and the inevitable population growth the city will see. Today we thought we would share another vision for managing Houston’s growth presented by a new forum and exhibition by AIA Houston. Houston 20/20 Visions: Ten Years to Clarity exhibits what Houstonians consider the most critical issues challenging our city today and their ideas to solve them. Their mission statement is “to provide a forum for creative visions for the next decade that will explore how development, environmental responsibility, housing, and transportation projects will contribute to a sustainable future for the City of Houston.”

  • Houston began as an urban place with its earliest developments based on transit and walkable, compact neighborhoods. Many of these neighborhoods are still walkable and convenient.
  • Houston 2.0 began with the destruction of the streetcar system and the advent of new roads and then enormous highways that enabled and encouraged suburban development far from the city center.
  • Against all odds, a pretty good – and pretty smart – transit system has evolved over the years. And today the region is moving back towards walkable urbanism.
  • The 7.5-mile Main Street light rail line acts as the spine of the transit system, connecting the major employment centers of Downtown and the Medical Center. Houston’s single line carries more people per mile than any other light rail system except Boston’s.
  • Suburban areas are linked to jobs in the urban core by a comprehensive system of park & ride buses. As Metro board member Christof Spieler has noted, the park & ride transit system would rank among the top ten commuter rail systems in the country if it used rail instead of buses. But, there are major gaps in the service. Trips to Downtown tend to be easy; trips to other job centers – Greenway, Uptown, Westchase, Energy Corridor – are often longer with more transfers. Many suburban areas have no local bus service at all; as the population ages and suburbs get more diverse that’s becoming a greater problem. The success of the park-and-ride system and the light rail line proves that Houstonians will ride high quality transit when it is offered, but it isn’t offered everywhere.
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  • We should focus mass-transit on where people are clustered.
  • The next round of light rail development that is evolving will be five more lines, adding 32 miles of rail. Within the next five or six years, this intense system will have 65 stations with more than 150,000 boardings a day.
  • The large activity centers will continue to grow and at least three of them are working on master plans to make them more walkable and amenable to regular high-quality transit service.
  • Perhaps the most interesting activity center in this system is Uptown/Galleria, because it has a large residential base of more than 30,000 residents in addition to the largest retail base in the region. It’s a 24/7 magnet for people and that should only increase with the new service.
  • 5-720But the most exciting prospect will be that of the growth of small destinations,neighbor- hoods with interesting restaurants or shops or other amenities, including parks. People who ride transit discover these places because they are not distracted by driving and actually are able to see what’s there.
  • The emergence of popular places could drive economic development in a large number of neighborhoods.
  • Generally, a kind of development that Houston hasn’t seen much of for a century will occur: transit-oriented development (TOD). In TODs, shops and other amenities are clustered around transit stations because many people accessing them will be on foot and will want the convenience of complete neighborhoods (and a cup of coffee.)
  • With 65 station areas encompassing some 30 square miles of TOD possibility, Houston may soon have the largest real estate market in the nation for walkable urbanism based on transit.
  • It’s difficult to grasp the significance of so many different neighborhoods almost suddenly being linked together by light rail transit service.
  • First, many of these neighborhoods are diverse, low-income areas where car ownership is low, often slightly below one car per household on average.
  • These new, inexpensive links to jobs, health care, schools, and other amenities should allow significant improvements in hundreds of thousands of lives. Also, small businesses in these neighborhoods will be accessible to a new group of potential customers and clients.
  • Secondly, people who want to live in urban circumstances – which in Harris County is more than 41% – are a huge market of 1.7 million people who are really not currently served by the market. There are public policy reasons for that; urban form is essentially illegal everywhere in the City except in the Central Business District. The City’s Urban Corridors ordinance begins to address that by setting up an optional development code for the light rail corridors.
  • The City is forecast to grow by about 30% by 2035, so if each of these 65 neighborhoods grew by just that much right around the stations, all would improve the prospects for neighborhood amenities such as shops and services, which could also mean more local jobs.
  • But the opportunities for much more significant growth, particularly in some of the larger, more urban places, could mean that these 65 station areas could accommodate half or more of all of the City’s growth, without needing to pave and develop greenspace and farmland.
  • This is the Houston region’s near-term opportunity to develop a true “urban zone” in which many different places are connected by good transit service. This will begin to moderate the cost of such places by increasing the supply in response to clear market demand, enabling many of the people seeking walkable urbanism to find it.
  • Can neighborhoods work with the City to develop a vision and plan for their own futures?
  • Plenty of places have sufficient job and population density to support good transit service, but decades of sprawl make the future tough.
  • There is no single service or mode that answers all issues; what we need is a connected seamless system that combines multiple modes and levels of service.

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See more here and here.

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Texas named sixth most enterprising state…and what it means for real estate?

To jump-start their economies and create more jobs, states increasingly are trying to spur private sector business growth and investment. One way some political leaders are doing this is by reducing business taxes and government regulations.

According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy organization in Washington, D.C., “the most competitive tax systems create the fewest economic distortions by enforcing the most simple, pro-growth tax systems characterized by broad bases and low rates.”

Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a report called “Enterprising States 2011” that ranked states in a variety of performance metrics, including their tax and regulatory environments. Those environments were compared in five ways: overall state and local tax burdens, corporate taxes, small-business costs, state government budget gaps, and cost-of-living indices.

With the exception of Texas, States that made the Chamber of Commerce’s top-ten list are not found on the East Coast or the West Coast because desirable coastal states don’t always need incentives to attract business investment and expansion. So states that offer lower taxes and regulations view those attributes not only as advantages but also as necessities in today’s competitive landscape for business expansion and job growth.

The importance of this relates both to corporate entities and to real estate development. Locating in or doing business in a low-tax state can help generate higher profit margins, while operating with fewer regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles can reduce red tape in the real estate development process, whether for environmental reviews or incentive programs.

Here is what they say about #6 Texas:

The Lone Star State is a low-tax state that offers a low cost of living and has an enterprise-friendly climate that’s paying off with high job growth rates. Recent state initiatives include a business tax reform that raises the revenue exemption.

Article excerpt from the Urban Land Institute by Jeffery Spivak

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CNU Workshop: How form-based codes encourage revitalization

Last week, Clay & Company’s Barton Kelly attended a workshop hosted by Better Houston, Super Neighborhood 22, and The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) about source codes and their use as a vital economic development tool for neighborhoods. CNU is a national organization dedicated to understanding how the quality of the built environment impacts our daily lives and how applying this knowledge helps build vibrant and healthy communities. Nathan Morris, a principal at a planning firm specializing in town centers and walk-able responsible land development hosted the all-day lecture. Below is Barton’s summary of the day’s learnings.

smartcodes2The main focus of the day was Washington Avenue and its redevelopment since the Houston-Galveston Area Council hopes to create and implement a S.P.U.D. (Special Purpose Urban District) in the Washington corridor. The creation of such a district would require developers to follow a strict set of form based codes called SmartCodes.

SmartCodes are a unified land development ordinance template for planning and urban design. SmartCodes exist in many cities in the United States and are a new way of looking at zoning and restrictions. Instead of using conventional zoning categories based on the land use, SmartCodes focus on the form of the built environment. For example, a self storage facility (use) would be allowed to be built next to my house so long as the facility follows all of the architectural guidelines in our code, meeting the set-backs, landscaping, and traffic requirements, etc (form). All categories within the SmartCode allow some mix of uses. SmartCode zoning categories ensure that a community offers a full diversity of building types, thoroughfare types, and civic space types, and that each has appropriate characteristics for its location. Private frontage requirements are the most important thing in creating interesting and walkable places that people actually want to live. Things like thoroughfare type and sidewalk depth are all written into the code.

Using SmartCodes, a special district is divided into zones many times called “transect zones.” All new developments must comply with the standards of its transect zone. This could be the closest thing to zoning Houston has ever seen, but again, it is not based on use. The transect zones are defined by how inherently dense you want the area to be and what people like and expect to see in those densities. For example, a property on Washington Avenue might fall into transect zone 4 which requires it to utilize 80% of its street frontage (empty spaces in already dense urban areas are perceived as dull and hollow and people don’t want to walk them.) The back of that property may be a townhouse which is in a transect 2 area. You never want to have different transects on the same street, but the backs of properties can be differing zones.

How can we make this happen?

  1. Have a vision. Pick a city for Houston to emulate and do what they do. Do economic and environmental impact analysis.
  2. Create the codes. Make the rules and then allow room for smaller “modules” to be created later…like what do we do with bike lanes? Write a module and insert it into the smart code. Be precise.
  3. Implement with political action. Get the public involved and supportive. Show them examples and give them options. SuperNeighborhood 22 is a very proactive neighborhood group that governs the Washington corridor and instead of waiting for things to happen, they try to guide the city and its development by already having a vision in place.

Other things to take away:

  • What does good street retail look like? Walk through the Galleria, it’s indoors, but they know how to maintain visual interest and be successful.
  • Washington has good bones to be a quality corridor with good entertainment and high property value.
  • But we must mix the land uses. Envisioning 3 miles of restaurants and retail for Washington is not realistic. Should the SPUD be created, those writing a smart code need to define codes of more concentrated activity and have that branch out at major intersections.
  • We are in a knowledge based economy. People are less tied to ports and natural resources than they were 100 years ago and therefore they have more freedom to choose where they want to work. We don’t want to lose talent in the future because the college graduate prefers Austin’s coolness or the walkability of some other city.
  • SmartCodes offer a very quick approval process. Should the developer follow the codes, they are essentially granted approval for their projects. Everything is quantified so reviewing is easy.

Image source.

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