December 05, 2005
A tale of three cities
Stories about residential development in urban downtown areas were all around the news this past week. See this story on San Antonio's efforts, with commentary from The Red State and B and B, and this WSJ story on Dallas, with generous excerpting and additional remarks from Tory. Tory also noted that Houston's downtown has experienced growth in residential population, though it's not where you want it. I suspect, as Tory seems to, that this definition of "downtown" stops at the Pierce Elevated on the south side, meaning that it does not include the vast growth in Midtown, much of which is a reasonable walk or short light rail trip away from the CBD. Be that as it may, there's some interesting stuff there, so check it all out.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 05, 2005 to The great state of Texas
Virtually all assessments of the residential health of Downtown Houston use the Census Tract definition, which is the outline of I-45, US 59 and I-10. Currently, that area includes about 3,100 residents, but not the 7,500 residing in Midtown, nor the 1,000 or so living in the Old Chinatown area, east of Downtown.
The questions becomes, why can we not include these people living a few blocks away, on the other side of a Census imposed barrier, when debating the health of Downtown? Most experts say that Downtown needs 10,000 residents for a sustainable restaurant and nightlife scene. Are the experts saying Midtown residents won't walk or ride the rail a quarter mile to eat a meal?
I believe our insistance on using New York as the barometer for intown living affects our judgment. We don't have to fill highrises with residents to have a vibrant core. If Midtown grows to its expected 20,000 capacity, and the eastside grows to 10,000, Downtown will have all of the nearby residents it needs to have a sustainable nightlife.