Houston Planning Commission Approves Clinic Project Next to Midtown Park 'SuperBlock'
Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange
Houston Area Community Services is planning to build a clinic next to the Midtown Park development.
by Adolfo Pesquera
The Houston Planning Commission allowed a two-story medical clinic project that is located less than a block from the Midtown Park development.
Fox Architecture, a small Austin-based firm that specializes in medical facilities, is designing the Houston Area Community Services at Fannin, a two-story structure of approximately 12,800 square feet.
The project appeared before the Planning Commission Feb. 2 for variances to the building line. Allowances were given to reduce the building line to 8 feet-7 inches on Fannin Street and 5 feet-10 inches on Anita Avenue, and to permit canopies to encroach 15 feet-11 inches into the 25-foot building line on Fannin and 4 feet on Anita.
This project site is currently a surface parking lot at the corner of Fannin and Anita and will encompass more than a quarter of the block that is also bounded by Taum Street and Main Street.
Across Main Street from the future HACS clinic site, Camden Property Trust and the Midtown Redevelopment Authority have been construction Midtown Park, also referred to as the SuperBlock. This 6-acre site is bounded by McGowen Street, Travis Street, Anita Street, and Main Street; Main has a light rail line and a Metro station at the northeast end of Midtown Park.
A December 2016 view of construction at Midtown Park, the "SuperBlock," as seen from Main and McGowen streets.
Midtown Park, which is near completion, will be a massive mixed-use development with an urban park with artificial bayou and reflecting pool, concert pavilion, a 300-unit multifamily community, public underground parking garage, retail and streetscapes. There are many other planned amenities, both for the public and tenants.
While considering the clinic site plans earlier this month, the commission was told by city staff the design would provide greater pedestrian access and encourage mixed-use redevelopment. The building line variances would allow the facility to provide "an increased amount of medical service to residents by enabling the building to have the necessary space needed to accommodate a high volume of patients with a preeminence on decreased waiting times and avoidance of overcrowding, as well as enable the facility to logically accommodate parking," the staff report said.
"Because the developer is a non-profit organization that servcices traditionally negatively susceptible populations ... it is their priority to provide a safe and accessible medical facility."
The proposed building is next to a street that requires 30 percent transparency. However, HACS will not be able to meet that requirement due to the need for privacy of the patients, the report continued.
"However, (HACS) is proposing pedestrian amenities consistent with the transit corridor ordinance, such as minimum 6-foot unobstructed sidewalks, and 3-inch caliper trees on the abutting streets. Additionally, the distance from the back of curb to the structure is over 16 feet on Anita Stret and over 25 feet on Fannin Street."
The HACS main campus is at 2150 W. 18th Street, and HACS has two branch clinics. The Midtown branch will be its fourth location.
Aerial overview of the concept for Midtown Park, courtesy of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority.
Adolfo Pesquera is a veteran news journalist. He has previously worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. He is a communications graduate of the University of Texas-PanAmerican.
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