The last time city stakeholders put together a master plan for Downtown Houston, it was 2004. The transit lines were just getting rolling; much of the current system hadn't been constructed. The wave of sky-high residential towers (brought here by tax incentives for developers) hadn't started. Heck, Discovery Green wasn't even built yet.
That's because the 2004 master plan was the key to all of those initiatives, each of which have helped spur a renaissance in the city's commercial heart, transforming it from a strictly business district commuters couldn't wait to leave at 5 p.m. into a relatively bustling area with an ever-expanding list of amenities that draw Houstonians and visitors alike around the clock.
Those stakeholders — including Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Central Houston Inc. and various area management districts as well as the City of Houston and Harris County—have now reconvened to chart the next wave of downtown development. Together, they're working on a plan that will focus on improving transit to, from and within downtown, and on making the neighborhood a better place to live, work and play.
The Downtown District held several meetings on Wednesday at the Rice Hotel explaining to area residents and various planning wonks the broad strokes of their plan. The best part, though, is that they're taking ideas: A map-based survey, which has so far garnered about 700 responses, is geared toward understanding how people use downtown and in what ways they could better accommodate those uses.
Do you bike through downtown on the bayou trails? Are you a daily commuter to one of the high-rise office towers? A new resident of one of the Market Square high-rises? After dragging icons and drawing on a map, there's an open-response box for you to share your gripes about the constant pee smell wafting down Fannin or the utter indecipherability of the downtown tunnel system.
The plan will be drafted throughout the summer and will have a formal launch this fall. So go forth and share your good ideas!