“Drivable Urban” Houston and the Case for Suburbia

This week we have a few pretty cool items:

“Car-oriented” and “sprawl” aren’t the same thing: the word “sprawl” is imprecise. But it surely does not apply to heavily urbanized areas where office towers mingle with multi-story apartment buildings. Easterners are accustomed to a dichotomy between “walkable urban” and “driveable suburban”. Much of Houston’s core is “driveable urban.”

Inspired: As a market urbanist, I was already a fan of Houston in theory. But the visit made me significantly upgrade my evaluation of Houston as a place. It is far more interesting than Austin, for one thing. And although it is automobile-oriented, it is definitively a city, with all that implies.’

‘…there are a bunch of ways in which the city totally (and unintentionally) came out ahead in the whole “the plan is there is no plan” deal.’

“After Uptown officials spent $192 million rebuilding the street to develop the line, operated by Metro, to carry 12,000 riders per day, bus drivers are ferrying fewer than 800 on many work days.”

“It’s 26 percent cheaper to live in Houston compared to the 20 biggest cities in the U.S.”

Finally, if you missed our URI/COU webinar last week on “The Case for Suburbia”, you can check it out here. Great panel, and yours truly gets a mention for my work on MUDs.

This piece first appeared on Houston Strategies.

Tory Gattis is a Founding Senior Fellow with the Urban Reform Institute (formerly Center for Opportunity Urbanism) and co-authored the original study with noted urbanist Joel Kotkin and others, creating a city philosophy around upward social mobility for all citizens as an alternative to the popular smart growth, new urbanism, and creative class movements. He is also an editor of the Houston Strategies blog.