Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Developers Like Ainbinder are Happy Being Less Than Awesome ...

I have long known that the folks on the other side of this discussion read this blog, follow the FB group, and watch the local media outlets for stories.  They have gone so far as to hire PR Firms, create anonymous FB profiles to comment back and forth in the FB group, and comment on this blog.  Need proof, See Here ...

That said, this post is for you folks ...

If you haven't done it yet, go read this article ... Its really quite good.

As a summary:
-Nathan Norris came to town
-Mr. Norris works with Placemakers
-Placemakers promotes efficient planning and urban usage (Mixed Use, walkable developments)
-Mr. Norris believes Houston is not living up to its potential

"My one big take-away from my visit to Houston was that Houston has the greatest potential to be America's most worldly city,"

Thats a pretty big deal ... so what gives?

We don't have rules, guidelines, or the correct incentives. While some developers take chances in putting up great urban spaces like West Avenue and City Centre, Ainbinder gets millions to put up a strip mall with fast food drive throughs in the middle of my neighborhood. ... What the hell kind of sense does that make?

Right now, you folks (And again, I'm talking to you developers and Moody Rambin folks) don't have a plan. You have a picture of a strip mall with no train tracks, no houses around it, that is apparently built on an open field of green where ferries and unicorns prance and eat jellybeans.
But there's no plan to make it great. You pave a field, put up some one story buildings, and say you're done ... but thats not greatness folks.

You're playing in the minor leagues.

"Underperforming" was a word he used frequently. Our lax rules about development, he said, not only mean that our daily lives are poorer for streets edged with garage doors instead of trees.
They also mean that Houston's developers aren't making as much money as they could from their projects - and that taxpayers don't reap the full potential of their investments in public space.
Norris argued that despite Houston's enormous advantages - warm weather, a business-friendly environment, thriving economy, water supply, friendliness - our disjointed approach to building the city is holding us back.

But perhaps thats what the developers are happy with. Its safe to continue in a string of 'developments' that require little creativity, and less ingenuity.

Well, its a good article ... good ideas ... and I hope to live somewhere that will aspire to be much greater than it already is, and have a grander vision than a brick facade strip mall at some point in time soon.

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