Environmental Constraints

Floodplain

Due to environmental constraints, it is recommended that future development attempt to incorporate low-impact development techniques particularly to help mitigate storm water run-off. Storm water treatment swales, rain gardens, green roofs and other techniques can be incorporated in public infrastructure improvements, future site improvements and buildings.

The streams in the Study Area are White Oak Bayou and its tributaries, Vogel Creek and Cole Creek. The current Flood Insurance Rate Map by the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows that more than half of the Study Area is in the 100-year floodplain of these streams. Many buildings are located in the floodplain and are therefore subject to periodic flooding.

The Harris County Flood Control District has acted to reduce flooding in the Study Area. Vogel Creek has been channelized to increase its capacity and carry flood waters downstream more quickly. In addition, the District has purchased and demolished homes close to White Oak Bayou.

Flooding is and will remain a major problem in the Study Area. The Near Northwest Livable Centers Study focuses redevelopment opportunities outside of the floodway. The study recommends that vacant sites within the 100-year floodplain be reserved for recreation and conservation use, such as parks, gardens and greenbelts.

Existing Green Space

existing greenspace

The Livable Centers Study Area has a collection of green spaces made up of both parks and wooded areas. The bayous in the Study Area made up of White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek and are the true under-utilized green spaces in the area. These green spaces are in many cases hidden from view of those traveling through the area. Just north of the Study Area is the community’s most well-known green space/open space being the former Inwood Forest Golf Course. Currently, the only public park in the area is the small Aron Ledet Park on and west of Antoine Drive about one-half mile north of Tidwell.

 

Existing & Proposed Pedestrian & Bike Trails

pedestrian and bike trails

New bicycle paths will soon provide a safe and attractive alternative to riding on the street, and other paths are also proposed. The pedestrian and bike trails network within the Livable Centers Study Area is currently being improved today with new trails being constructed along White Oak Bayou connecting to existing trails along White Oak that go to Memorial Park as well as other great parks and green spaces in the city. The trails under construction as well as the future trails planned along the bayou are key in creating a true cohesive network of pedestrian and bike trails in the region.

The City of Houston is now building the first bicycle path in the Study Area, a separate route along White Oak Bayou from south of the Study Area to Victory Drive. Antoine Drive is currently in the process of being restriped to include bike lanes from Pinemont north to White Oak bridge. There are two proposed bicycle paths crossing the Study Area. One proposed bicycle trail would be built along Cole Creek, crossing the Study Area from east to west. Another would cross the Study Area from West Little York Road on the east to White Oak Bayou on the west. Bicyclists are poorly served in the project area with no bicycle paths and few through streets that are not crowded with motor vehicles.

Regional Mobility

regional mobility

The daily traffic volume at Antoine Drive reaches 32,000 vehicles per day. West Little York Road west of the Burlington Northern Railroad has traffic volume between 19,000 to 25,000 vehicles per day. Victory Drive and West Little York Road east of Burlington Northern Railroad have daily traffic volumes less than 18,000 vehicles. Traffic volume on West Tidwell Road increases gradually from east to west, from 16,000 to 36,000 vehicles per day. In general, northbound and southbound streets are more congested than eastbound and westbound streets.

The Near Northwest Study Area lacks a sufficient network of streets to connect with the major arterial roads. The area’s stream and railroad corridors (White Oak Bayou, Vogel Creek, Burlington Northern Railroad) create barriers that restrict movement from one side to the other. Potential future local street connections are shown in red dashed lines in the accompanying graphic.

The Study Area has parking at major shopping centers, employers (for employees and customers only), and on minor streets in residential subdivisions. Major arterials such as Antoine Drive do not allow on-street parking. Consequently, businesses must have their own parking lots for patrons, making for an automobile-dominated community where pedestrians are not encouraged.

Pedestrian use of the study area is hindered by lack of safe sidewalks. Where sidewalks exist along major streets in the study area, most are in poor condition. As a result, pedestrians must walk on unpaved shoulders or on the street. Also, subdivision street patterns have few links to other areas and it is difficult for people to walk or ride bicycles from subdivisions to schools, commercial areas or transit stops without traveling along a major arterial roadway, sometimes three to five times farther than a direct connection would allow.

Population Growth

Population in the Study Area is expected to experience moderate to rapid growth, which will result in increased traffic volumes in the Study Area. The projected annual growth rate of population from 2011 to 2035, as forecast by H-GAC, shows that the southern part of the Study Area is predicted to have a higher population growth rate than the northern part. Population is expected to grow rapidly in the area bordered by Cole Creek, West Tidwell Road and Burlington Northern Railroad, exceeding 3.5% through 2035. The area bordered by Burlington Northern Railroad, West Little York Road, West Tidwell Road and White Oak Bayou is expected to grow at a slower pace, between 1% and 2.5% annually through 2035. Population in the remainder of the Study Area is expected to remain stable or decrease, with growth rates less than 1% per year.

Demographic, Economic & Market Trends

Land Use

land use

The Livable Centers Study Area is primarily a series of single family residential neighborhoods with a few concentrations of multi-family developments. Along Antoine, and concentrated at the major intersections of Tidwell, West Little York, and Victory is retail and commercial development considered to be of average to poor quality. Industrial land-use, serviced by the Burlington Northern railroad line occupies the western edge of the Study Area. Significant green space/open space is provided by flood control initiatives along White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek as well as the presence of the abandoned Inwood Forest Country Club.

Land use is changing in some parts of the Study Area. Homes close to White Oak Bayou were bought out and demolished by the Harris County Flood Control District for flood control, and the City of Houston has condemned and demolished the apartments on De Soto Street for redevelopment.

Market Conditions

An assessment of existing demographic profiles, market conditions and historical trends was conducted for the Study Area. The Study Area saw its most significant period of past growth from the 1970s through the 1990s. The population has a higher percentage of households with children under 18 (55.6%) than the City of Houston overall (50%). There is a relatively high share of the population without education past high school. African Americans represent approximately 50% of the Study Area’s population which is more than twice the average for Houston.


 

The "Big Ideas"

At the inception of the planning process at meetings with The Advisory Committee members and stakeholders, a series of “big ideas” and the associated opportunities and challenges for each was identified. These big ideas became the major themes guiding the focus of this project and serve as the story-line for what a Livable Center can achieve in the Antoine Corridor.

Redefine our relationship to water

water challenges

Challenge: Historically, water has been an enemy attacking this area with flooding, requiring extensive repair and rebuilding.

water opportunities

Opportunity: Raise the awareness of water with public spaces and trails that trace it, landmark buildings that leverage investments overlooking it and bridges that celebrate crossing it.

Make parks and gardens a priority

parks challenges

Challenge: This is one of the most under-served areas of Houston in terms of park space.

parks opportunities

Opportunity: Transform the area with a series of diverse parks linked in a green network, animated and accented by water.

 

Create a place that is a destination

destination challenge

Challenge: People have limited reasons to come to this area today.

destination opportunity

Opportunity: Create a live, work, learn, visit and play lifestyle and sense of place that will be unique in Houston.

Transforming an auto-centric strip into a street for People

auto centric challenge

Challenge: Tame traffic and transform the character of a strip dominated by vehicles, pavement and parking.

street for people opportunity

Opportunity: Transform the street edge with active public spaces and commerce that makes it safer to walk and a place of identity and civic pride.

 

Leverage strategic location with upgraded transit connections

transit challenge

Challenge: A location with proximity to the airport, Galleria, downtown and other employment areas, but with limited and lengthy connectivity.

transit opportunity

Opportunity: Establish express service signature bus lines allowing residents to live, walk and ride transit to jobs while reducing traffic and increasing pedestrian activity on Antoine.