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Density and transit go hand in hand

This recent article about a new high-end 236-unit apartment at Richmond and Dunlavy in Montrose contains a point that I wish would get mentioned more often.

David Robinson, president of the Neartown Association, said his group realizes change, specifically higher density, is coming to central Houston, and members are fine with it as long as it is done right.

“Density is something we need and are encouraging inside the city limits, especially in the urban core,” Robinson said. “Neartown’s official opinion is that increased density is OK as long as it is marked by wise investment and prudent decision making. I think we could overbuild the area easily if we weren’t smart about it.

“Our city is so diverse and the character of the neighborhoods is so important to maintain and preserve,” he added. “As a leader of Neartown, we love our neighborhood and we’re not looking for wholesale change. We’re looking at building on the existing infrastructure.”

Robinson said he believes the location of the Fairmont Museum District is appropriate, and is ideally located to make use of the University Corridor line.

“Along the Richmond Avenue corridor is the perfect place for higher density to occur,” Robinson said.

It will help, “get cars off the street and allow people living there to take mass transit,” he added. “When you talk about our carbon footprint these days, getting out of the car and onto the rail is a good idea.”

Claude Wynn, president of the Museum District Business Alliance, said he is aware of increased density and how it can favor businesses.

“I think this is what we’re looking at along the thoroughfares,” Wynn said. “Rail is going to bring this kind of density, which is not incorrect. It’s about how it’s done. There are some concerns by some in the neighborhood, but I personally don’t know of any business complaints.

“We know we are facing increasing density and that’s part of what gives a spark to the businesses. Density is what feeds the walkable Montrose idea, that’s what rail is about – the ability to walk for several blocks. Businesses are not as sensitive to things like that as the neighborhoods.”

Basically, density without transit is just worse traffic. Density with transit is something desirable for residents and businesses, and will attract people to it from elsewhere. Many of the concerns about some of the new highrise projects would largely go away if people didn’t see them as just adding hundreds more cars to their neighborhoods. It’s pretty simple, really. And since the density is coming to all over central Houston, we need to start thinking aggressively about bringing more transit there as well. I have some thoughts on this that I will develop more fully in the coming weeks.

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  1. As I watch multi-unit condo townhouses replace the bungalows on lots originally designed for one or two toilets, I wonder if “building on the existing infrastructure” is such a wise plan.

  2. fmdp2009 says:

    If you ask the tenants at The Fairmont Museum District Apartments, they’ll recommend against moving in. Also, the management swears it’ll be 2 years before the construction continues on the other empty lot that faces Richmond but I have no reason to believe them.