Environmental & Urban Design

Mayor Turner to Announce Complete Communities Initiative

April 17, 2017 • Continue Reading »

Mayor Turner Kicks off Complete Communities Initiative

City/Private Partnerships aim to Transform Forgotten Neighborhoods

WHAT:
Mayor Sylvester Turner will announce the first round of neighborhoods selected for his Complete Communities Initiative. Complete Communities aims to transform neighborhoods that have been overlooked for the amenities enjoyed by other Houston neighborhoods. The city will work with stakeholders in the selected communities and partners across Houston to create more complete neighborhoods with access to quality affordable housing, jobs, well-maintained parks and greenspace, improved streets and sidewalks, grocery stores and other retail, good schools and transit options.
WHEN:
10:15 a.m., April 17, 2017
WHERE:
Steps of Houston City Hall (reflecting pool side), 901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002

Houston mayor addresses issues at BOMD/SWH2000 breakfast meeting

January 11, 2017 • Continue Reading »

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner fought rush hour traffic to address a joint breakfast meeting of the Brays Oaks Management District and Southwest Houston 2000 Tuesday, Jan. 10 at Houston Baptist University.
The mayor spoke about the city’s growth and diversity and talked about issues that concern all Houstonians––not just those affecting residents in the southwest sector of the city. He reiterated his commitment to repairing an estimated 40,000 potholes and said that 97 percent of those problems were fixed within one business day in 2016.

“We’re getting it done,” he said, then moved on to the concern of infrastructure repairs and better drainage to reduce flooding problems. The city has identified 22 drainage projects––two in each district––and is focusing on those first. He also talked about the city’s involvement in finding funding for Project Brays, a $480 million project to reduce flooding in the Brays Bayou watershed. While waiting for $311 million in federal funding, a loan of $130 was requested from the state, the mayor said.

In addressing public safety, Turner said that the city is currently 600 officers short and has reassigned 175 desk officers back to the street to assist in filling the gaps. He also talked about controversial changes to the city’s pension plan, which he called “a runaway finance system” that can’t be fixed overnight.

“I don’t have the power to turn water in to wine,” the mayor said, “But, we are not balancing our books on the backs of working men and women.”

The problem of Houston’s homeless population is a much more difficult one to address, he said.

“It’s easy to fill a pothole; it’s much harder to fill a hole in someone’s life,” Turner said. Simply providing housing is not the complete answer, he added, because many of these people will elect to go back to the streets. The problem is partly a financial one and partly a mental health issue. He pointed to a program that the city of San Antonio is currently using to provide shelter and services for up to 1,700 homeless people, but added that the Haven for Hope program is costing $23 million a year.

Turner stressed that the emphasis on the homeless population is not motivated by Super Bowl 51 coming to the city’s NRG Stadium in February because it can’t be fixed by then. It is an ongoing problem that requires the involvement of not only the city government, but also faith-based and charitable organizations. The mayor said that, having lived with hunger and poverty himself, he was personally not opposed to feeding the homeless, but that providing food does not address the complexities of their needs.

“We cannot be comfortable with people living on the streets and under underpasses,” Turner said.

BOMD SWH 2000 Breakfast with Mayor Turner – January 10, 2017 from ev1pro.com on Vimeo.

In addition to the mayor’s address, attendees at the breakfast meeting also heard from students of Westbury High School who are working on a project to build a pier at Willow Waterhole near their campus. They have already collected two-thirds of the $30,000 needed to build the pier, but are seeking donations of time, money, labor, and materials from the community.

Dr. Michelle Garza of Sharpstown High School also spoke about a program to register students for discount fare Metro bus passes, since transportation is an important part of school attendance, early arrival for tutoring, and the ability to stay after school for extra-curricular programs.

Flooding and Storm Surge Symposium, Jan. 18

December 20, 2016 • Continue Reading »

flooding-and-storm-surge-symposium

Houston is no stranger to the human and economic costs of severe weather. Recent floods in 2015 and 2016 caused 16 deaths and over $1 billion in damage. Additionally, the entire coastal region is particularly vulnerable to the threat of storm surge from a powerful hurricane.

In order to address these issues, Houston City Council Members David W. Robinson and Dave Martin, the AIA Houston Urban Design Committee, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Houston (ACEC) will host an event featuring two panel discussions on flooding and storm surge. Experts from academia, government and advocacy groups will shed light on these challenges and discuss possible solutions.

The event will take place on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Meeting Room 371ABDE. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the program at 6:00 p.m. Remarks by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett will be given at the beginning of the program.

This event is free and open to the public. Online registration is available until 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11. Click here to register.

Please contact atlarge2@houstontx.gov and districte@houstontx.gov if you would like to be a partner city, organization or sponsor of this event.

Park Activities Survey

October 26, 2016 • Continue Reading »

wwgc-surveyThe Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy would like you to tell them what you like about your park!

They have been working away making your park fabulous. Now they really need to know if you like it too. Go ahead, be honest. Their feelings won’t be hurt. Tell them what you think in their short, delightful survey.

Go ahead and click. Give Feedback.

Delays won’t deter Levitt Pavilion construction

July 12, 2016 • Continue Reading »

Levitt_Pavilions_at_Willow_WaterholeWhile residents of the Westbury neighborhood already enjoy the sounds of nature and birdsong in the Willow Waterhole Park, many are looking forward to the time when music will fill the nights, as well.

Plans for a Levitt Pavilion to host 50 free music concerts a year have been underway since the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy first contacted the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation in 2012. In 2013, it was announced that Houston would be the site of the eighth in a series of Levitt Pavilions that have sprung from underutilized spaces across the country.

While negotiations and paperwork have delayed fundraising and construction, Howard Sacks, President of the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Houston, remains optimistic that the ball is rolling now.

“We aren’t really able to do full fundraising until we have signed multi-party agreements,” he added. “These are in the process of going back and forth and being revised. We think that we have more of that behind us rather than in front of us and that’s encouraging.”

The construction fundraising goal is $7.5 million, Sacks said, but that phase cannot begin until the agreement is completed.

“When we have a document that the parties agree to, then it has to be approved by City Council, and I’m optimistic that can happen by fall,” he said.

“What’s also cool is that all parties seem to be intent upon the same goal, which is making Levitt Pavilion happen at the Willow Waterhole,” Sacks said.

“It’s taken literally four years––four years since July––that we learned of the opportunity,” Sacks said. “The delays really stopped mattering. It’s almost as if the people who stay the course are the ones with the potential to be rewarded. And there aren’t any shortcuts.”

While fundraising is in a holding pattern, there are already some encouraging signs to help the community envision the music venue to come, he pointed out.

“What’s extraordinary is that the Harris County Flood Control District––in their earth-moving capacity––has prepared, visually, a site for the Levitt Pavilion,” Sacks said.

wwgc-levitt-pavilion-layout“If you take a look west of South Post Oak between Willow and Gasmer, you will see quite a sight that’s already pretty indicative of what the Pavilion is going to look like––the tiered seating and the saddle that’s the midpoint of the seating,” he said. “It’s fairly easy to imagine, along the flat bank, the seating facing west, the Pavilion facing east, and the water behind it.”

Each Levitt Pavilion features open-lawn seating with no benches, high-caliber entertainment from all music genres, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment. The Houston venue is expected to accommodate 5,000 concert attendees.

The first Pavilion was launched by philanthropists Mortimer and Mimi Levitt in Westport, Conn. in 1973, followed by additional pavilions in locations such as the formerly crime-ridden MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, Calif; the brownfields of an old steel mill in Bethlehem, Pa.; and the Memphis, Tenn. park where Elvis Presley once performed; as well as in Pasadena, Calif. and Arlington, Texas. A seventh pavilion in Denver, Colo.’s Ruby Hill Park is expected to be completed by 2017.

Since opening in 2006, the Willow Waterhole Park has hosted a jazz festival and outdoor moving screenings for the Westbury community. The 280-acre park, which also serves as part of a $75 million flood control project with stormwater detention basins, is now a popular destination for picnics, birdwatching, and hiking trails.

New Single-Family Home Development Coming to Brays Oaks District

December 18, 2015 • Continue Reading »

AC-homesFor all the Brays Oaks residents that have been wondering what the “New Homes” sign on the west side of South Gessner north of West Bellfort portends, the mystery has been at least partly solved. AC Homes, a Chinese investment and development firm closed on the property on Friday, December 11. The firm has previously done development in the Dallas area. Although district staff was unable to make contact with anyone at AC Home, we were able to talk to the broker that represented them, Mr. Ben Ho with Texas Midland Realty.

According to Mr. Ho, AC Homes plans to develop around 100 homes on the 9.46 acre tract indicating that the new subdivision will be a high density development. The new homes will be mostly 2-story, 3-bedroom ranging from 1,300 square feet to 2,300 square feet. Prices will likely range from the 170s to the mid-200s. Since AC Homes is not a builder in its own right, it is looking at several Houston area homebuilders to construct the new homes to its specifications. Preliminary architectural designs have already been completed, according to Mr. Ho. However, no timeline has been set for the start of land development or home construction at this time. Also, no name has been decided for the project.

The Brays Oaks District is happy to learn of this important news. It has shown the property concerned along with others suitable for single-family development to a number of Houston area developers and builders over the past five years without success. It is hoped that this project will stimulate interest among some of these builders in undertaking new housing projects of their own. Equally important, the district hopes the new subdivision will help the district’s efforts to attract new retail store names and full service restaurants to the area.

Stay tuned.

Westbury Community Says Goodbye to Westbury Centerette

April 23, 2015 • Continue Reading »

BOMD Westbury Centerette Demolition from ev1pro.com on Vimeo.

The Westbury Centerette commercial strip center finally came down last month to make way for a new proposed development. The owner of the former Westbury Centerette site is in negotiations to bring a LA Fitness Center to this site.

“In past years, the Westbury Centerette was one of the commercial anchors at the Chimney Rock/West Bellfort intersection. Now that this demolition has occurred, the Westbury community is looking forward to regain this once vibrant commercial node into a transformed development,” states Council Member Larry Green.

“We thank Council Member Larry Green and the many residents of Westbury who came out to watch the demolition of the former Westbury Centerette,” states Becky Edmondson, President of the Westbury Civic Club.

demolition

Council Member Larry Green and Brays Oaks District Director of Services, Richard Rodriguez, at the Westbury Centerette property (corner of Chimney Rock and West Bellfort) where demolition of the site began in March.