The Westchase Livable Center is assisting one of Houston's main population and business centers to remain competitive with other local business districts by promoting it as a true live, work, and play destination. The planning effort considered strategies by the public sector that can leverage and bring the private sector to the table in developing mixed-use, walkable places.
A cost-share program, housing recommendations, market study, and zoning analysis combine to encourage a mixed-use, livable center.
Existing residential areas and privately owned superblocks are not pedestrian friendly to access commercial centers, potential open space, or destinations. Private property easements and a cost-sharing program will improve the walking environment by increasing public infrastructure.
The existing housing options are well maintained but cater to renters. The plan encourages new housing options for homeownership, Class A rental options, and family-oriented assets, while avoiding any recommendations that would displace existing residents.
Asakura Robinson led a market study and zoning analysis to help the district attract and define the mixed-use and transit-oriented development needed to support the project goals. Asakura Robinson also collaborated closely with local property owners to ensure that recommendations were clear to understand and easy to communicate.
Yet with growth comes new challenges and opportunities. Employers in the District are conveniently located to attract talent from across the Houston region, but increased commuting in single-occupancy vehicles creates traffic and mobility pressures. The District’s residential stock has remained well-maintained, but competitive business districts are working to attract more mixed-use development to attract young employees, and homeownership opportunities to attract families.
As it stands, the District does not have mixed-use developments or homeownership opportunities, but it has advantages in its existing green spaces. The Westchase District’s Long-Range Plan, completed in 2006, recognized the need for the District to evolve its mobility strategies and development mix in order to continue its successful trajectory.