Now that Buffalo Bayou Park is complete and downtown’s TIGER trail and Sunset Coffee Building’s restoration are wrapping up, BBP is initiating plans for the bayou’s east sector. Planning is underway to make an important trail connection from Allen’s Landing to McKee Street east of downtown. This addition will link to several miles of trails that are already in place.
Grant Awarded for Buffalo Bayou East Sector Plan
Earlier this year, we were honored to receive a $500,000 grant from Houston Endowment Inc. to develop a strategic plan for the bayou’s east sector extending from US 59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin. This effort will build from the recommendations of BBP’s 2002 Buffalo Bayou and Beyond study. While the west and downtown sectors of Buffalo Bayou are publicly owned and have existing nodes of activity, the east sector offers a “blank canvas” with a distinctly industrial character. The bayou can be a catalyst for development in both surrounding neighborhoods and the greater Houston region. In addition to considerable opportunities, the area presents significant challenges such as fragmented property ownership, low population density, and a lack of complementary uses fronting the bayou. Throughout 2016, BBP will work with consultants and community stakeholders to develop a vision and implementation strategy that will continue the transformative role that Buffalo Bayou is playing in downtown and the west sector.
Several planning efforts conducted over the past year will provide valuable information and research as Buffalo Bayou Partnership moves forward with the east sector plan.
Livable Centers Study Completed
For nine months, BBP worked with the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation and Greater East End Management District on a Livable Centers Study. Sponsored by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, the planning initiative is designed to create walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, multi-modal transportation choices, and private investment leveraged with public improvements.
To improve access to Buffalo Bayou, the Livable Centers Study recommended:
- Creating a complete streets network connecting north and south to Buffalo Bayou
- Improving bikeway network connectivity
- Constructing bridges that serve as connectors and strengthen neighborhood identity
- Establishing a pedestrian sidewalk network
The study also looked at various scenarios for redeveloping bayou-fronting properties. Read the Livable Centers Study.
Urban Land Institute Experts Provide Recommendations for East End Development
In November, BBP along with the Greater East End Management District, New Hope Housing and METRO sponsored an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) that focused on an area from Harrisburg to Buffalo Bayou. Over a two-day period, a group of ULI real estate and urban planning experts interviewed neighborhood stakeholders, business owners and developers.
At a community meeting, panelists presented their findings and offered recommendations for transit-oriented development along the Harrisburg light rail line. The group said the best way to stimulate residential and commercial development is to offer incentives through a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ). A final report will be issued within the coming month.
ULI TAPs provide expert, independent and unbiased input from real estate and planning professionals. Panelists bring valuable points of view to help kick-start critical conversation and decision-making regarding land use and real estate development challenges.
BBP sincerely thanks those individuals who were part of the East End: Gary Altergott (Morris Architects), Bart Barrett (Wood Partners), Justin Boyar (HFF), Bill Fulton (Kinder Institute for Urban Research), Ron Lindsey (RDL Consulting), Eta Paransky (City of Houston), Abbey Roberson (HOK), and Sherry Weesner (Scenic Houston).
BBP to Participate in Kinder Institute’s Community Bridges Program
BBP will be joining a group of Fifth Ward organizations in a service learning program known as Community Bridges. Through an academic course and active fieldwork sponsored by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Community Bridges Fellows develop and implement Fifth Ward neighborhood projects to address social inequality, poverty and socioeconomic mobility. As part of the program, BBP has been assigned Fellow Caroline Brigham, a Rice University junior architecture student, who will research and plan green space connections from Buffalo Bayou to the Fifth Ward. Two tributaries known as Japhet Creek and Ingraham Gulley will be the focus of Caroline’s work. BBP has already purchased land along Japhet Creek and hopes to undertake a master planning effort to fully restore the property. Other Fifth Ward Community Bridges participants include: Can Do Houston, Can River Gardens, Covenant Community Capital, Executive Personnel Staffing Incorporated, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Pleasant Hill Leadership Institute, School Literacy & Culture, Small Steps Nurturing Center and YES Prep Fifth Ward.