Stop by the Lost Lake Visitor Center (3422 Allen Parkway) or the Wortham Insurance Visitor Center (105 Sabine Street) during December for a chance to win unique Buffalo Bayou items, including Buffalo Bayou: An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings by historian Louis Aulbach, BBP swag and more! Four lucky park visitors will be randomly selected, and winners will be announced on our Facebook at the end of the year.
Sunset Coffee Building
Early next year will mark the completion of the Sunset Coffee Building, one of the few remaining industrial buildings along Buffalo Bayou and a contributing structure within downtown’s Market Square Historic District. BBP, with Houston First Corporation, has transformed the site to feature: canoe/kayak and bike rental facilities at ground level; a café on the second level; and BBP’s new administrative office on the third level. Additionally, the rooftop terrace will be available for rent! Stay tuned for more details.
TIGER Hike and Bike Trail
Also slated for completion early next year is the TIGER Trail, a gap closure project from Smith to Milam Streets along Buffalo Bayou. The $4.6 million trail, funded through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, is one of six projects designed to improve mobility in Houston by connecting trails. Learn more.
Buffalo Bend Nature Park
Finally, stay tuned for a January celebration of this park opening in the East End. Once an abandoned industrial site used for dumping construction debris, numerous donors and community volunteers helped transform this 10-acre site which features restored wetlands perfect for enjoying and learning more about the natural environment.
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.
This fall, we met with several groups to discuss Buffalo Bayou Park, BBP’s history, and the organization’s past and future projects.
Board members from City Parks Alliance, a national organization that advocates for urban parks, were in Houston as guests of Doreen Stoller, Hermann Park Conservancy Executive Director and an Alliance board member. The group took a pontoon boat ride through Buffalo Bayou Park and then ventured along the bayou’s east sector. As we passed historic industrial buildings and abandoned wooden docks, Alliance Executive Director Catherine Nagel remarked, “This is one of my new favorite green spaces.”
Waller Creek, a two-mile urban stream in Austin, is undergoing major restoration and revitalization. The green artery will eventually connect major destinations such as the Austin Convention Center, State Capitol, University of Texas, Lady Bird Lake, and the city’s musical and entertainment district. Representatives from Waller Creek Conservancy were in Houston to meet with staff from BBP and Discovery Green. In early 2016, the Conservancy’s board will return for a more extensive visit and meetings with BBP. We look forward to their visit and staying in touch to keep up with our shared experiences.
In Lafayette, Louisiana, an energetic group of volunteers is spearheading a $60 million project to restore Lafayette Central Park, a beautiful 100-acre site in the heart of the city. While in Houston, board members and staffers leading this effort took tours of Buffalo Bayou Park, Discovery Green and Hermann Park. The group was particularly interested in learning about Buffalo Bayou Park’s capital campaign and long-term maintenance contract. We look forward to hearing about this exciting project as it unfolds.
On November 18th, Vice President Joe Biden visited Buffalo Bayou Park to tout Houston’s hike and bike trails that are being constructed with $15 million of federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds awarded to Houston in 2012. BBP has partnered with the Houston Parks & Recreation Department, Houston Parks Board and Greater East End Management District to provide matching dollars for trail construction along Buffalo and White Oak Bayous, and on-street connections in the East End. BBP is the project sponsor of a $4.6 million TIGER trail that will connect Sesquicentennial Park to Allen’s Landing in downtown.
After a three-week long soft opening, The Dunlavy at Buffalo Bayou Park’s Lost Lake Visitor Center is already a favorite spot for casual dining during the day and elegant private parties at night. The eatery and special event space is operated by Clark Cooper Concepts, the restaurant team behind Brasserie 19, Coppa Osteria, Punk’s, and Salt Air. The Lost Lake Visitor Center, designed by Larry Speck of Page, is reminiscent of a glass tree house, tucked away in a beautiful park woodland. The holidays will be perfect for bringing in guests for breakfast or lunch… And of course, consider booking the space for an intimate holiday or New Year party!
Hours for The Kitchen at The Dunlavy: Everyday, 8 am to 4 pm
To book a private event at The Dunlavy, please visit Clark Cooper’s website and click “Group Dining Request.”
Buffalo Bayou Park would not have been possible without our partners SWA and Millis Development and Construction (MDC). BBP would like to extend a huge thanks for a job well done on the park’s design and construction.
It was natural for BBP to call upon landscape architecture firm SWA to collaborate on the design of Buffalo Bayou Park after leading the award-winning Sabine Promenade project completed in 2006. Special thanks goes to Kevin Shanley and Scott McCready for providing the knowledge and skills needed to make this park project a stunning success.
Houston-based construction company Millis has been part of the enhancements made to Buffalo Bayou, including the Rosemont Bridge and several hike and bike trail segments. MDC’s construction team endured numerous “wet” challenges this year and worked tirelessly to complete the amenities enjoyed by park users today.
Whether you are on the hike and bike trails for exercise or for fun, please remember to be mindful of fellow trail users and follow these basic safety tips:
- Stay to the right
- Anticipate the actions of other users and know your limits
- Keep pets on a short leash
Bikers (allowed on the Sandy Reed Memorial Trail only):
- Announce “passing on left” and use bike bells when trying to get around someone
- Look ahead and behind you before turning around on the trail
- Pull over to the right or completely off the trail when stopping for any reason
- ALWAYS wear a helmet
- Watch speeds and keep a 3-foot distance from pedestrians
- Headphones/ear buds are discouraged, but if you use, remove from one side so you are aware of the sounds around you
- Don’t allow young children on trails without supervision
- When in a group, stay in a single file line
- Obey all traffic signals when crossing major intersections
- Look both ways before crossing or merging with another trail
Buffalo Bayou Partnership sincerely thanks the many generous donors and committed partners who joined together to make this significant civic milestone a reality. Engraving of donor plaques and installation of donor recognition opportunities is ongoing, and we will be sure to keep all of our donors updated on our progress. If you should have any questions in the meantime, or would like additional details, please contact Leigh McBurnett, Director of Development.
Get the download from Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse, Catherine Lu, and Tom Carter in Buffalo Bayou Revealed, a 12-part audio tour sharing facts about key destinations in the park, including The Water Works, Cistern, Johnny Steele Dog Park and more. Happy exploring!
Tune in this Saturday, October 24 at 7 p.m. for Buffalo Bayou Park: Where Houston Begins, a TV special produced by KHOU 11. Tag along with Chita Johnson, KHOU 11 Meteorologist, for a tour of the various park destinations and amenities, and learn why this park project is so significant to the city.