Translating the Vision
The Public Open House Workshop schedule was established in a charrette-style to enable the consulting team to focus intensely on the design of the concept plan immediately following gathering community input at the April 26 Open House. Two days later, the concept plan was then presented for public feedback at the April 28 Open House.
The charrette allowed the consultant team to listen to the community and translate their input as follows:
Within a compact area, Antoine, West Little York and Victory cross over White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek at five locations, giving rise to – Five Bridges. The current bridges are functional for vehicular traffic; the vision is to enhance these crossings to celebrate the waterways and new trails underneath and to identify the value of water as a focus of this community. Five Bridges is a place where the heavily travelled Antoine corridor, the bayou/greenway trails, the future “town center”, the regional “destination park”, and a series of public spaces all culminate.
A long-term centerpiece of this plan is the creation of a public-private partnership to develop a regional “destination park” – White Oak Gardens – established in association with the bayou trails and Lone Star College. With a location backing up to White Oak Bayou, this project has the ability to leverage the trail and greenway system while establishing a regional landmark on Antoine that draws visitors from near and far.
Coordinate redevelopment of property formerly occupied by deteriorated and abandoned multi-family projects and transform De Soto Street into a linear water channel – Bayou Boulevard at White Oak – that connects a proposed park at White Oak Bayou on the east end with a proposed plaza and water feature visible from Antoine at the west end. This project has the ability to achieve numerous goals from replacing deteriorated multi-family seen as a blight on the area to extending the park/trail system from White Oak Bayou to Antoine in order to give the greenway a visible identity on Antoine.
The significant existing bus transit ridership in the Antoine corridor is envisioned to be enhanced with the introduction of signature express bus service that ultimately could transform into – White Oak Station – a multi-modal hub with future rail transit on the Burlington Northern line. Located around the intersection of Antoine and West Tidwell, the hub should take the form of a multi-purpose public space, and the immediately surrounding blocks provide long-term opportunities to promote dense, transit-oriented development that will activate the hub 24/7 and generate riders living near the station.
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Within a compact area, Antoine, West Little York and Victory cross over White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek at five locations – giving rise to Five Bridges. The current bridges are functional for vehicular traffic, the vision is to enhance these crossings to celebrate the waterways and new trails underneath and to identify the value of water as a focus of this community. Five Bridges is a place where the heavily travelled Antoine corridor, the bayou/greenway trails, the future “town center”, White Oak Gardens and a series of public spaces all culminate.
- Accent of bridge crossings with poles, banners and “suspension bridge” strings of LED rope lights identifying the value of water within the community
- The Five Bridges help identify the location for this community’s “Central Park” used by both the local community and regional visitors. Approximate 60 acre community and regional park and open space formerly the Arbor Oaks subdivision. Urban farming/gardening in association with Lone Star College; Community gardens managed by NNWMD and utilized as a demonstration classroom for Lone Star College and six other educational facilitates located within a one-mile radius
- White Oak Farmer’s Market facility furthers weekend activity as well as showcasing the urban farming/ gardening
- New “town center” with numerous restaurants opening to outdoor space with a relationship to the renovated White Oak Bayou
- Restaurateurs utilizing the Farmer’s Market and the community gardens
- The Town Center consists of 2-4 story mixed-use buildings enhancing the street edge and providing street retail with residential above
Presently, Antoine Drive is an auto-dominated strip that is not pleasant or safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. Heavy vehicular volume, limited sidewalk separation from fast-moving lanes, numerous curb cuts, exposed parking lots that constantly surround the pedestrian with vehicles and sections where there is no sidewalk.
Due to the bayous, floodplains, railroad, and existing development pattern, the limited existing street connectivity will remain a constraint for movement in the future. As the area develops, connections in the street grid should be created.
Currently, along Antoine there is simply no room to add lanes to increase vehicular capacity. With Antoine continuing to be the major north-south corridor, the most effective way to increase mobility in the short-term is with enhanced pedestrian, bicycle and transit service. Transforming the street section to become a “complete street” for all users is a major recommendation of this study. Once Antoine becomes more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, it will:
- Induce more people to walk safely to transit stops
- Allow motorists to utilize shared parking and “park once” then walk to multiple destinations
- Give people the choice to walk or bike for short local errands
Due to varied and numerous existing conditions, this plan has proposed several different, but compatible, street section types to be utilized along Antoine. Some portions of Antoine are proposed to retain and/or enhance the existing median while in other sections it is proposed to be removed (eg. Five Bridges and White Oak Station). Any improvements or reconstruction of Antoine should include a signed and marked bicycle facility such as a bike lane or sharrow.
1. Urban streetscape section runs through high density development on Antoine. Median removed and placed on the outer edges of the R.O.W. to create more pedestrian space and accommodations for local cycling in the new urban landscape. Parallel parking is provided in this zone.
2. Suburban streetscape section runs through more traditional residential development on Antoine. Landscape median remains for large oaks and public art. Additional green space provided on the outer edges of the R.O.W. to provide wider sidewalks and more room for trees and landscape.
3. The city is currently restriping the stretch of Antoine between Pinemont and Little York to include bike lanes. All of the proposed streetscape sections illustrated on this page include a signed and marked bicycle facility such as a bike lane or sharrow within the street section.
Branding & Wayfinding
The plan recommends rebranding and repositioning the Study Area as the “White Oak Quarter”. White Oak Bayou is the most significant natural feature defining this area and the new greenway trail connects all the way to downtown Houston, forever changing the sense of location for this area. Thus, it is fitting that White Oak become the place name for the area connecting to both nature and the city center.
The logo contains the silhouette of a mature White Oak tree which may also be produced as a freestanding silhouette form such as finials to place on top of poles for street signage. The name and logo should become the theme from which street signage and other wayfinding devices are designed. “White Oak” should be tagged to place names within the district:
Five Bridges at White Oak
White Oak Gardens
Bayou Boulevard at White Oak
White Oak Station
An attractive and identifiable wayfinding system is also an important tool for enhancing mobility in the Study Area. Due to the bayous, floodplains, railroad, and existing development pattern, the limited existing street connectivity will remain a constraint for movement in the future.
The increased connectivity proposed in this plan is focused on pedestrian and bicycle trails, footbridges crossing the bayous and improved sidewalks along the Antoine corridor. Thus, the wayfinding system is critical for inducing people to walk and bike along the new bayou and greenway trails, the transformed Antoine corridor and from their homes to mass transit.