Feature Photo (above): Houston’s Metro Northwest Transit Center. Image: Google Streets
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — Houston’s Metro requested a building line variance from the Planning Commission in order to proceed with a reconfiguration of its Northwest Transit Center at Old Katy Road and North Post Oak Road.
This is a $17.9 million project that is in the transit authority’s 2019 capital improvement program.
In other Thursday business, the Planning Commission approved variance requests for an apartment complex project in Woodlands Heights, and a two-story, 10,000-square-foot retail building and open plaza project that is adjacent to, but not part of, the massive East River master planned development by Buffalo Bayou.
Landtech Inc., Metro’s agent, requests a zero building line for the 10-acre site along Old Katy Road for a proposed bus canopy.
The existing Metro Northwest Transit Center, in operation since 1988, is surrounded by development and is a transit center island bounded by streets and freeways.
“That means that there is no place to expand since all adjacent property is occupied by existing public streets and freeways. This leaves only one option which is a redevelopment and densification of the existing site footprint,” Landtech states in its request.
Currently, the transit center provides 120 parking spaces for Park-and-Ride users and 12 bus bays with passenger loading platforms. The only way to place more mobility amenities on the same surface area, Landtech claims, is to encroach on the 25-foot building line along Old Katy.
Google Earth aerial view (above) of the Metro Northwest Transit Center. Proposed site plan (below) for the reconfigured transit center/Courtesy: Metro
Metro proposes to expand the bus bay area and reconfigure the Park-and-Ride parking lot to accommodate more customer vehicles. The entire site will be re-landscaped and redesigned.
Drivers accessing to the site from Interstate 610 will encounter a new traffic pattern that will include a roundabout. There will be better ease of access from the freeway to Old Katy since the roundabout will provide a straighter path to Old Katy.
HNTB Corp. prepared the site plan in collaboration with Gunda Corp., HVJ Associates Inc., Landtech and Midtown Engineers LLC.
Google Streets view of Clinton Drive, looking west toward downtown, with the south elevation of the proposed retail/event center superimposed in the 3500 block. Graphic by Adolfo Pesquera.
Station Thirty Five Thirty Five
K Chen Engineering represents a developer requesting reductions of the building line from 25 to 5 feet along Clinton Drive, and from 10 to 5 feet along Cage Street and Bringhurst Street for a commercial retail project in the Fifth Ward called Station Thirty Five Thirty Five.
The developer proposes a 10,000-square-foot, two-story retail and event center at the northeast corner of Clinton and Cage. The block is owned by TDI Group Inc., a Houston-based private real estate investment firm.
Joined to it, according to the south and north elevations, will be pedestrian bridges and stairways that lead to an open plaza occupying the center of the block, with an elaborate two-story gateway entrance that faces Clinton. The rear (north) gateway will also include an elevator.
The third portion of the lot facing Clinton is shown on the site plan as a reserve for future development, but the gateway/bridge system appears to be designed to be able to connect to another structure someday.
The rear half of the block will be converted to surface parking sufficient for 54 vehicles. At present, most of the block is vacant land.
Site plan of the proposed Station Thirty Five Thirty Five retail/event center. Courtesy: City of Houston public records.
There is an existing building at the southeast corner that is home to The New Potato, a neighborhood pub that has been on site for more than two years. The New Potato features an outdoor garden space and hosts food trucks throughout the week. The architectural elevations indicate that The New Potato will be a ground floor tenant within the new development.
In the city staff report to the commission, it was also noted that, “The applicant proposed to have more architect features within all building line with 6 feet and 5 feet wide sidewalk and more landscape features along all four sides of streets.”
The four elevations for Station Thirty Five Thirty Five. Courtesy: City of Houston public records.
Cisneros Design Studio Architects LLC, in its site plan, refers to the project at Clinton Retail Center, 3535 Clinton Drive. The property is directly across Clinton and north of center of what will become East River, one of the largest new master planned mixed-use developments ever to be constructed this close to downtown.
East River is on the site of what used to be the 150-acre Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) industrial complex. It is being developed by Midway.
Architectural rendering of the 2727 Flats apartment building. Courtesy: Jacobs Architectural Group.
Jacobs Architectural Group is designing a unique apartment complex for 2731 Houston Avenue Ventures LLC. The multifamily project known as 2727 Flats is a compact structure on a third of an acre.
It will have 31 units and private garages at ground level for 42 vehicles. This is not a typical parking garage, but a series of two-bay garages that will hold four vehicles because a tandem parking lift system is being installed. Tandem lifts mechanically elevate and stacks vehicles atop each other, making use of the entire garage (floor to ceiling).
The ground level site plan for 2727 Flats. The area highlighted in pink is expanded (lower right insert). Courtesy: Jacobs Architectural Group.
Most of the units (19) are one bedroom/one bath. Three units have two bedrooms and the remainder or studios or one bedroom with a study.
- 1st Floor: 10,767 GSF / 0 Units
- 2nd Floor: 10,798 GSF / 9 Units
- 3rd Floor: 10,798 GSF / 11 Units
- 4th Floor: 10,798 GSF / 11 Units
- Total GSF: 43,161 Sq. Ft. / 31 Units
On behalf of the private developer, South Texas Surveying Associates Inc. is requesting a reduction of the building line from 25 to 10 feet along Houston Avenue:
“The proposed apartment complex design proposes a pedestrian friendly area along Houston Avenue with a landscaped patio and a dog station amenity for neighbors walking their pets. This area would benefit from the engagement of the street and businesses in the community, while providing a destination for neighbors to pause and interact with one another.
“It is our belief that pedestrian space, with light vehicular traffic Monday through Friday, will add life to the area by providing a walkable destination, and an opportunity to enjoy the Heights.”
The front elevation schematic of 2727 Flats. Courtesy: Jacobs Architectural Group.