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Creating Livable Centers

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Houston has completed an extensive "Livable Centers Study" that explores the area of midtown Houston around the Ensemble / HCC stop on the Main Street light rail line.

"The Ensemble/HCC Livable Centers Study is a strategic plan for a neighborhood’s future. There are two important pieces to the study: the plan itself and the process for realizing that vision," the report notes.

The report examines the area's past, details the present infrastructure and documents the prevailing and emerging land-use patterns. The report goes on to  "identify strategies and prioritized objectives for improving the urban fabric and the potential opportunities for strengthening and incentivizing increased land use activity - in line with primary objectives of the Livable Centers program."

The 308 page report is broken down into seven "books":

  1. Road Map, describes philosophical and technical approach to the project in detail.
  2. Identify Districts, captures a snapshot of the current land use, activity generators and building stock and looks for patterns and opportunities to build on.
  3. Integrate Systems takes a hard look at a number of systems that support and help make a neighborhood livable, convenient, safe and attractive.
  4. Close the Gap makes use of the market research and construction cost information to determine the feasibility of public realm improvements and proposed catalytic projects.
  5. Create Development Capacity recognizes the preeminent role of the larger community in carrying the plan forward.
  6. Overcome Barriers assesses the current regulatory environment in light of the desire for higher density mixed-use development.
  7. Build a Catalytic Project. Redevelopment and revitalization is dependent on new projects happening. Our initial research, planning priorities and conversations with stakeholders led to the identification of five potential catalytic projects.

"The story is still being written, of course," the report notes. "It is a vision and a plan for action. We can project a set of desired outcomes, but success depends on the will and effort of many."

The study has been added to the Best Practices.

The Ensemble/HCC Livable Centers Study