The Montrose Livable Centers Plan seeks to transform Montrose into a more walkable, connected, and accessible neighborhood.
The project focused on economic development strategies that maintained and supported existing businesses while creating new opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Asakura Roinson addressed ways the neighborhood could utilize street rights-of-way to provide multiple forms of benefits, including mobility, resilience, and recreation.
The timeline took place entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic and team members utilized a number of virtual engagement methods throughout the study.
Montrose has been one of Houston’s most distinctive, exciting, and desirable neighborhoods. Culturally rich, economically vibrant, human-scaled, and close to Downtown, Montrose is now entering its second century and its successes have also created new challenges for historic communities who have called Montrose home. There is an overwhelming desire to continue to encourage all of the things that have made Montrose, Montrose.
The plan takes a holistic look at all components of what makes a neighborhood and its residents more resilient, including mobility, thoughtful use of public spaces, access to affordable housing, re-development in sensitive neighborhood and cultural contexts, an improved public realm, and the treatment of public art as critical neighborhood infrastructure.
Innovative projects envisioned as a part of this plan include the development of robust streetscape design guidelines including detailed recommendations for green infrastructure. The plan also identifies how underutilized street space can be reallocated to create more “people” space including play street, and green street designs.
Asakura Robinson believes deeply in the public engagement process: a successful planning process should be measured by the amount of ownership community members feel at the conclusion of the work. The project took place entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic and the consultant team worked hard to ensure the community’s safety while still maintaining a dynamic engagement approach, utilizing a number of virtual engagement methods throughout the study.
Our map-based online neighborhood tour (using Social Pinpoint) during both the Needs Assessment and Concept Plan phases of the project provided an opportunity for community members to interact with key locations on a map, telling the story of place – each stop included visuals, written explanation, and survey questions.
Our storytelling activity included recordings of residents talking about their connection to the neighborhood. Each resident was paired with a local artist who created an original piece of art corresponding to each story.
Watch the video here.
Finally, as Montrose is known as the city’s gayborhood, we convened a panel of national experts in LGBTQ+ planning to help understand how challenges in other gayborhoods around the country could translate to lessons learned for Montrose.
Watch the video here.
The plan’s attention to the arts, culture, and LGBTQ+ history of the neighborhood, including the inclusion of both LGBTQ+ academic experts and public art subconsultants on the project team, as well as many recommendations focused on small business support and supporting the growth of public art infrastructure and programming in the neighborhood, ensure the “vibe” that so many love about Montrose will be around for years to come.
Read the final plan here