Sharpstown Super Neighborhood 26
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Collaborative Community Design Initiative. No. 4 Community Design Resource Center 2016
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Sharpstown Street Signs
Figure Ground Land Use Amenities Transportation Economic Development Flooding
Participants and Sponsors
Population Age Race and Ethnicity Education Income Housing Crime Divisions
Open Space Network Complete Streets PlazAmericas Impact Zone
Sharpstown Apartments, Google image by H. Ansari, J. Lemley, C. Murray, A. Parker, M. Rivas
Sharpstown is almost 3 times as dense as all of Houston. The highest density occurs in the northwest and northeast portions of the neighborhood. These areas are characterized by multifamily housing. Although density in Sharpstown in correlated with some negative conditions 4 such as crime, density creates the potential for walkability and connectivity.
Introduction Super Neighborhood #26, Sharpstown, is located in southwest Houston in one of the most diverse sectors of the city. Sharpstown is bounded by the Westpark Tollway to the north, Hillcroft Avenue to the east, Bissonnet Street to the south and Beltway 8 to the west. The neighborhood is vibrant and diverse in both built form and population. The Sharpstown development, one of the largest planned communities in the United States, occupies the largest land area. The Southwest Freeway runs through the heart of the neighborhood. Sharpstown developed in the 1950s, around Americanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new found love for the automobile, yet today the area is densely populated, with over twice the population density as the Houston average. The area also has an abundance of uses, including retail, dining and shopping. The neighborhood is defined by the contrasting characteristics of sprawl and density, single-family subdivisions and large scale multifamily developments, curving neighborhood streets and 1970s super blocks and a mix of people from many different backgrounds, economic circumstances and cultures. The opportunities in Sharpstown focus on expanding the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parks and green spaces, creating alternative mobility networks, and re-using and re-purposing vacant and underutilized properties.
1940 Glenn McCarthy purchases 4000 acre tract of prairie land
Frank Sharp and Partners purchase land to create “biggest real estate development in Houston”
Southwest Freeway opening ceremony
1957 300 foot wide right-of-way through Sharpstown is donated for the construction of the Southwest Freeway / U.S. Highway 59
Houston’s first airconditioned, enclosed shopping mall, Sharpstown Center opens
History In 1944 the land that would become Sharpstown was simply farmland and prairie. By the mid-1950s prominent developer Frank Sharp began to build Sharpstown, which would become one of the largest housing developments in the United States. Sharpstown included sites for schools, a shopping center and a golf course. In addition, Frank Sharp reserved a 300â&#x20AC;&#x2122; right-of-way for the future construction of the Southwest Freeway which was complete in 1962. 1944
Sharpstown was intended to be an escape from urban life. The development was a model of master planned communities with middle class homes sitting along curving streets and cul-de-sacs. In the 1960s and 1970s the area surrounding the Sharpstown development experienced a surge in the construction of multi-family apartments. In the following decades Houston continued to sprawl and new suburbs emerged beyond 2005
Sharpstown. At this time home and rental prices in the neighborhood declined and the demographics of the both the neighborhood and the city transformed. In the 61 years since Sharpstown was dedicated, the land has been transformed from open prairie and farming to a highly dense amalgamation of residential and commercial development that is currently re-emerging.
Southwest Management Sharpstown Mall reDistrict created branded as PlazAmericas
1978 1978 1978
As new development occurs further from the center of the city Sharpstown and many other neighborhoods lose middle class residents
Price of oil plummets and many young professionals leave the city. At the same time Houston becomes a destination for immigrants from around the world
ABOVE: Sharpstown Timeline, based on research by H. Ansari, 2015 J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
n re nd Fo
S Gessner Rd
Sam Houston Tollway
o Westpark T
Context Sharpstown is one of Houstonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest, most densely populated and diverse Super Neighborhoods. Development began with the construction of the Sharpstown subdivision in the 1950s and filled in with high-density garden apartments to the north in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a socio-economic and spatial division in the neighborhood that occurs along Bellaire Boulevard. Smaller scale single-family housing developments dominate the area south of Bellaire while multi-family housing and commercial and industrial uses characterize the area north of this major corridor. Sharpstown is densely developed and has very little vacant land.
ABOVE, Right: Figure Ground BELOW, Left to Right: Park, Street Signs, Metropole Center by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas OPPOSITE PAGE, Left: Aerial Map
The original Sharpstown development of single-family homes is concentrated south of Bellaire Boulevard. Single-family housing occupies the largest area of residential land use. Multi-family developments, which house more residents than single-family housing, occupies far less land area and is concentrated north of Bellaire Boulevard and along the western boundary of the neighborhood. Between the 1950s and 1970s the balance of housing between singlefamily and multi-family flipped. In 1970 64% of all housing was detached single-family, by 1990 75% was multi-family apartments. In 2014, the majority of Sharpstown residents live in and rent apartments.
ABOVE, Right: Residential Land Use Multi-Family Single-Family BELOW, Left to Right: Area home, Housing by Type Graph for 1970, 1990 and 2014 by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
Single-Family Units Attached, 2-4 Units Multi-Family Units
Sharpstown is a mixed-use neighborhood with substantial commercial and industrial development. Commercial development is concentrated along Bellaire Boulevard and the Southwest Freeway. This includes three distinct shopping areas, Chinatown or Little Saigon along Bellaire Boulevard in the western portion of the neighborhood; PlazAmericas (formerly Sharpstown Mall) in the center along Highway 59, and the Mahatma Ghandi District in the northeastern corner adjacent to Hillcroft Avenue. The Harwin area, just south of Westpark, has the highest concentration of industrial land uses. Yet, many of these industrial warehouses are retail shops. Chinatown or Little Saigon, the Mahatma Ghandi District and Harwin all draw shoppers from throughout the city. ABOVE, Right: Commercial and Industrial Land Uses Commercial Industrial BELOW, Left to Right: Chinatown on Bellaire, Harwin Shopping District, and typical strip mall
ABOVE, Right: Vacant Land BELOW: Community garden in drainage easement
ABOVE, Right: Parks (1/2 mile walking radius) BELOW: Bayland Park BELOW, Right: Park Area Comparison Chart
Sharpstown Country Club
S Gessner Rd
There are no public parks north of Bellaire Boulevard an area with the highest concentration of multi-family housing and people who live below poverty. There is little vacant land in the neighborhood that could be repurposed for parks.
Sam Houston Tollway
The parks (not including the golf course) total 92 acres, which is approximately 60 square feet per person. The total park area per resident in Sharpstown is far below the 109 square feet per person standards for neighborhood, community and pocket parks adopted by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department in the 2015 Master Plan. An additional 78 acres of parks are needed in the neighborhood to meet the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s standards.
The Sharpstown neighborhood has four parks: Crain Park, Landsdale Park, Bayland Park and Bonham Park. The neighborhood is also home to the Sharpstown Country Club, which is now a municipal golf course.
Bonham Park 9 acres
Bayland Park (county park) 69 acres
HPARD Recommended Park Area for Neighborhood, Community, and Pocket Parks 109 square feet/person or 2.505 acres/1,000
Existing Park Area 60 square feet/person 1.4 acres/1,000
Park Area Needed 49 square feet/person 1.2 acres/1,000 = 78 acres
Gessner 046 Harwin Express 153 Fondren 063
Hillcroft Transit Center Westpark Express 151 Bellaire Quickline
Ridership by Bus Route
Weekend Average 004
Transportation to Work (Workers 16 Years +)
Sharpstown residents are well connected to METRO bus services with routes roughly every mile in both the north-south and east-west direction. In addition, the Bellaire Quickline provides limited stop express service from Sharpstown to the Medical Center. Bus rapid transit should be explored for Bellaire Boulevard, one of the most densely populated corridors in the city with a high percentage of people who depend on public transportation. In 2014 7% of workers over the age of 16 depended on public transit to get to work in Sharpstown. While this is a small percentage it is higher than the Houston average of 4%. The Bellaire (002) and Beechnut (004) routes have the second and third highest ridership in Houston, with 7,364 and 7,884 people respectively boarding the bus on an average weekday. The only route in Houston with higher ridership is the Westheimer (082).
East End Light Rail
Texas Medical Center
Southeast Light Rail
Red (Main Street) Light Rail
ABOVE: Transit Map OPPOSITE PAGE, Far Left: Bus Ridership Graph (METRO Ridership Report, 2015) Weekday Average Weekend Average Map and graphs by: H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas OPPOSITE PAGE, Left: Transportation to Work, 2014 Sharpstown Houston
llw Westpark To
Sam Houston Tollway
S Gessner Rd
Sharpstown is well served by both small and large grocery stores. Major grocers include Fiesta, Welcome Food Center and HMart. There are also many smaller grocers scattered throughout the neighborhood that provide a diverse range of produce and merchandise that cater to the neighborhoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diverse cultures, including Indian and Halal grocers.
y w tF So
Bellaire Blvd S Gessner Rd
ABOVE, Right: Map of Grocery Stores Asian Grocery Stores Hispanic Grocery Stores Indian Grocery Stores Middle Eastern Grocery Stores OPPOSITE PAGE, Left: Map of Major Retailers BELOW, Left to Right: Dynasty Market, Fresh Produce, Baked Goods, HMart Grocery, Teloloapan Meat Market
Sam Houston Tollway
Many shops in Sharpstown are small and locally owned. There are very few major national franchises that are typical in other neighborhoods. For example, there is not a Home Depot, Walmart, Target or Starbucks within the Sharpstown neighborhood boundaries. The map to the left highlights the location of major national franchises and big box stores in the area.
llw Westpark To
w ay tF re e
Bellaire Blvd S Gessner Rd
The Southwest Management District was created in 2005 to â&#x20AC;&#x153;enhance the physical, social, and economic well being of the Sharpstown community.â&#x20AC;? The District focuses on mobility and transportation planning, environmental and urban design, health and public safety, and business and economic development.
Southwest Houston TIRZ #20
So ut hw es
The Sharpstown Super Neighborhood is served by the Southwest Management District, a 10-squaremile area bordered by Hillcroft on the east, Beltway 8 on the west, Westpark Tollway on the north and U.S. 59 / Bissonnet on the south. In addition, the Southwest Houston TIRZ covers much of the area.
Southwest Management District
ABOVE, Right: Map of Management District and TIRZ Boundaries Southwest Management District Southwest Houston TIRZ #20 BELOW: Southwest Management District wayfinding signage, Bellaire Boulevard
Bellaire Blvd S Gessner Rd
Recent flooding in the Meyerland neighborhood, just to the east of Sharpstown, has been significant. Sharpstown has not been greatly impacted by the most recent flood events, but roughly 25% of all properties are within the 100-year flood plain and roughly half inside the 500-year. Brays
ABOVE, Right: Flood Plain Map 100 Year Flood Plain 500 Year Flood Plain BELOW: Brays Bayou Map and Photo by: H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
Over the last several years flooding in southwest Houston has become more severe as the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s further west continue to develop and the city experiences record rainfall events. Just west of the Sharpstown area is Arthur Storey Park a storm detention area intended to slow the flow of water east in Brays Bayou, there are also a series of damns and reservoirs further north and west.
Race/Ethnicity White Black or African American Asian Other Hispanic or Latino
20% 17% 16% 1% 46%
16% 16% 14% 0% 54%
Age 17 Years or Younger 18 - 64 Years Old 65 Years or Older
27% 65% 8%
Place of Birth Foreign Born Residents
12% 14% 15% 2% 57%
31% 25% 5% 2% 37%
26% 23% 6% 2% 44%
26% 23% 6% 1% 44%
27% 64% 9%
28% 64% 8%
28% 64% 8%
26% 65% 9%
26% 65% 9%
Means of Transportation to Work Drove Alone Carpooled Public Transportation Other (Walk, Bicycle, Work at Home, etc.)
64% 19% 10% 7%
61% 24% 7% 8%
62% 23% 7% 8%
72% 16% 6% 5%
75% 13% 5% 7%
80% 11% 4% 5%
Educational Attainment 25 Years + Less Than High School High School Graduate (includes equivalency) Some college Bachelor's degree Master's degree Professional school degree Doctorate degree
34% 20% 23% 15% 5% 2% 1%
39% 23% 20% 13% 4% 1% 1%
41% 23% 19% 13% 2% 1% 1%
30% 20% 23% 17% 6% 3% 1%
26% 22% 24% 17% 7% 2% 2%
24% 22% 24% 18% 8% 2% 2%
29,496 $ 81%
31,103 $ 70%
Percent of Population Below Poverty
Housing Units Occupied Vacant Housing Units
Tenure Percent Owners Percent Renters
Households without access to a vehicle
Median Household Income Percent of Houston's Median
Persons per Household
*Sources: Census 2000, Census 2010, ACS 2014
Demographics The 2014 population in the Sharpstown Super Neighborhood is 77,309; this is a slight increase in the number of residents from the 2000 Census. Between 2000 and 2010 the population declined 10%, dropping to 69,617 residents. The dip in the population in this time period can be attributed to rising vacancies in area housing. For example, in 2000 only 6% of area housing
units were vacant; by 2010 22% were unoccupied. By 2014 housing vacancy had declined to 17% and the population rebounded. And while housing vacancy rates remain high the number of people per household has risen since 2000 from 2.8 to 3.
increasing just 4% from 29,540 in 2000 units to 30,695 in 2014. Sharpstown has a higher percentage of people between the ages of 35 and 64 years than any other age group.
The number of total housing units, both occupied and vacant, changed very little over this same time period,
29,540 1,703 6% Vacant 2000
6,809 22% Vacant
5,088 17% Vacant
ABOVE: Change in Population, Housing Units, and Housing Vacancy, 2000 - 2014 BELOW, Right: Houston and Sharpstown Population Distribution by Age, 2014 BELOW: Temple
Under 18 yrs
MAHATMA GHANDI DISTRICT
ABOVE: Sharpstown Districts Map, based on Southwest Management District Map and map by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
Over the last forty years the Sharpstown neighborhood has become increasingly diverse. In 1970 the neighborhood was predominantly White, this began to change in the 1980s, and based on the 2014 census data Hispanics or Latinos are the majority at 57%. The remaining population is 15% Asian, 14% Black or African American and 12% White. Over half of Sharpstownâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population were born outside of the United States, which is nearly twice as high as Houston overall. The population diversity of the neighborhood is reflected in the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s distinct districts (see map to the left), shopping, food and the built landscape. Signs in many different languages, small ethnic grocers, and a variety of shops cater to and reflect the many different cultures in the community.
LATIN AMERICA 60% Mexico El Salvador Guatemala Honduras Cuba
100 90 80 70 60
China Vietnam Thailand
Epypt Ethiopia Kenya Liberia Nigeria
EAST ASIA 17%
MIDDLE EAST 2%
AFRICA 7% ABOVE, Right: Sharpstown Change in Race/Ethnicity, 1970-2014 BELOW, Right: Map of Origin for Foreign Born Residents Chart and Map by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
SOUTH CENTRAL ASIA 4% Afghanistan Bangladesh India Iran Pakistan
4% Graduate or 13% Higher Bachelor’s Degree
19% Some College
41% Less than High School
18% Bachelor’s or Higher
Collins ES C-
23% High School Graduate
12% Graduate or Higher
Bush $35,638 ES $42,418 DWhite ES A
24% Less than High School
$48,879 Neff ES A
$34,450 Sutton ES A+
Bonham ES F
24% Some College
Baker ES C+
22% High School Graduate
ABOVE: Children at Risk Elementary School Grades, 2015; and Median HH Income, 2014 LEFT: Educational Attainment, 2014 BELOW: Children at Risk Elementary School Rankings 2015 BELOW, Left: Sugar Grove Academy
Houston 2014 0
Greater Houston Ranking
100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 BAKER R EL Grade C+
BONHAM EL Grade F
BUSH EL Grade D-
COLLINS EL Grade C-
NEFF EL Grade A
SUTTON EL Grade A+
WHITE EL Grade A
ABOVE, Right: Map of Sharpstown Schools BELOW, Left to Right: Sharpstown High School, KIPP Connect Primary
Liberty High School Baker ES YES Prep Gulfton HS KIPP Connect Primary Sharpstown International HS Neff ES St. Francis de Sales Tollway Westpark
Bellaire Blvd S Gessner Rd
41% of Sharpstown residents over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma, compared to 24% in Houston overall.
Collins ES Bush ES YES Prep West HS
Sam Houston Tollway
There are eleven public schools and eight private or charter schools located in the Sharpstown Super Neighborhood. Nine public schools are in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and two in the Alief Independent School District (AISD). The percent of students attending school in Sharpstown who are identified as at-risk and economically disadvantaged is much higher than the HISD average. For example at Sharpstown High School 90% of students are considered at-risk and 94% economically disadvantaged, compared to 62% and 74% respectively in HISD overall. Children at Riskâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2015 rankings for the elementary schools in the neighborhood range widely from an A+ to an F.
White ES St. Agnes Academy HS Strake Jesuit College Prep
Bonham ES Sharpstown HS Sugar Grove Academy MS Beechnut Academy MS Sutton ES Jane Long Academy MS
22% ABOVE, Right: Percent of Families Below Poverty, 2014 0 - 20% Below Poverty 20 - 40% Below Poverty > 40% Below Poverty BELOW, Left to Right: Westwood area apartments
The median household income in 2014 for the census tracts that comprise the Sharpstown Super Neighborhood was $31,349; this is 69% of the Houston median of $45,728. Median income diverges substantially across the neighborhood ranging from approximately $20,000 to almost $50,000. The tracts south of Bellaire, which is the area that comprises the original Sharpstown subdivisions of single-family homes, have the highest incomes; while lower income households are concentrated north of Bellaire where the majority of the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s multi-family housing is located. Poverty rates follow a similar pattern and range from 50% of families to less than 9%.
Median household income is stagnant in Sharpstown, increasing only 5% between 2000 and 2010 and only 1% between 2010 and 2014.
ABOVE, Right: Median Household Income by Census Tract, 2014 BELOW, Right: Median Household Income 2000-2014 BELOW: Sharpstown Apartments
$45,000 $40,000 $35,000 $30,000
Sharpstown Median HH Income
$25,000 $20,000 $0 2000
In 2014 45% of all households in Sharpstown spent more than 30% of their income for housing, the number soars to 52% for renters and declines to 28% for owners. In Houston overall 43% of all households spent more than 30% of their income for housing in 2014.
Housing costs across the city of Houston are increasing and many families are feeling the burden.
ABOVE, Right: Sharpstown Housing Costs > 30% of Income by Census Tract, 2014 50% or higher 40 - 49% 30 - 39% 20 - 29% BELOW: Sharpstown area multi-family housing
The Sharpstown Super Neighborhood has a very low home ownership rate at 28%, in Houston overall it is 45%. Rates of home ownership are lowest in areas with high concentrations of multi-family housing, such as north of Bellaire Boulevard. In contrast, in the Sharpstown subdivision rates of home ownership soar to as high as 81%. More than half of all housing in the Sharpstown Super Neighborhood was constructed between 1970-1979, an era with very favorable terms for the construction of multi-family housing. With the completion of multi-family housing in the 1970s the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home ownership rates plummeted from 60% in 1970 to only 25% by 1990. Since 1990 rates of home ownership have increased slightly to 28%.
ABOVE, Right: Percent Homeowners, 2014 0 - 24% 25 - 49% 50 - 74% 75 - 100% BELOW, Right: Sharpstown Change in Owner/ Renter Tenure, 1970-2014 BELOW: Sharpstown home, chart and photo by H. Ansari, J. Lemley, C. Murray, A. Parker, M. Rivas
ABOVE: Crime Map based on Trulia and developed by H. Ansari, J. Lemley, C. Murray, A. Parker, M. Rivas High Low BELOW: Garden in drainage easement
Sharpstown is a community divided and Bellaire Boulevard is the primary boundary that delineates multi-family areas to the north from the singlefamily subdivisions to the south. Based on 2014 ACS data population density north of Bellaire is 24% higher than in the areas to the south, poverty is 46% higher and homeownership is 76% lower. The chart at the bottom of this page highlights key demographics for the census tracts north and south of Bellaire (see maps to the right) and compared to Houston (where relevant).
4329.02 4,680 Bellaire Boulevard
3,153 4331 44%
South of Bellaire
North of Bellaire
RIGHT: Census Tract Maps for areas north and south of Bellaire Boulevard BELOW: ACS 2014 Data for north and south study area, compared to Houston North of Bellaire South of Bellaire Houston
Crime is fairly high in the Sharpstown Super Neighborhood. The areas with the highest crime are north of Bellaire where the majority of multifamily housing is located, and where both density and poverty are at the highest.
Under 18 Years
Over 65 Years
$26,014 $39,269 $45,728
Median HH Income
w tF So
S Gessner Rd
Opportunities Sharpstown has a diverse, varied and experientially rich landscape. The neighborhood hosts a broad range of housing choices and diverse shopping and dining experiences. Yet, this dense and culturally diverse neighborhood is missing the open spaces and public networks that could provide the glue to bind the neighborhood together. Opportunities include exploring potential programming and design interventions for the drainage and utility easements that weave through the neighborhood. The goal would be to create alternative pedestrian routes in both the north-south and eastwest directions to create a network of green spaces that enhance the pedestrian experience and connect key amenities such as schools. Developing a shared green space plan among neighborhood institutions would also support this opportunity. In addition, connectivity and mobility could be facilitated by re-thinking transit and street design strategies along Bellaire Boulevard and Hillcroft Avenue. Finally, exploring design ideas to transform PlazAmericas, the former Sharpstown Mall, into a new central park or square could create a place for people to come together. The opportunities identified seek to increase public green spaces, link existing amenities, re-purpose under-utilized spaces and design new ways to bridge physical and symbolic boundaries. LEFT: Opportunity Map RIGHT: Opportunity Sketches Map and sketches by H. Ansari, J. Lemley, C. Murray, A. Parker, M. Rivas
Hike and Bike Trails?
Transit and Streetscaping
New Parks and Open Spaces, Plazas or Squares?
llw Westpark To East/West
ent 2.8 mile
Bellaire Boulevard Hillcroft Avenue
North/South Utility Easement 2.7 miles
OPEN SPACE NETWORKS Two major high voltage utility easements cross through Sharpstown traveling east and west and north and south. Combined these easements travel a distance of 5.5 miles within Sharpstown and could become alternative hike and bike trails to create greater connectivity across the neighborhood and beyond. The east-west easement runs just south of the Westpark Tollway from Hillcroft west to Gessner, where it crosses to the northern side of the Westpark Tollway. Once crossing north the easement continues west to connect to Brays Bayou outside of Beltway 8 where it turn south to connect to Hong Kong City Mall on Bellaire Boulevard. Inside the Sharpstown neighborhood the easement connects the Hillcroft Transit Center, shopping along Harwin, YES Prep West High School and links to the north-south easement near S. Gessner. The east-west easement also continues east from the Hillcroft Transit Center to Loop 610. The north-south easement runs from Westpark south to Brays Bayou and the greenway trails that run eastwest along the Bayou. The easement continues south from Brays Bayou connecting to the Keegans Bayou Trail before turning back east. ABOVE, Right: Easement Diagram RIGHT: Easement Sketches OPPOSITE PAGE, Top Left: Utility Easement Opportunity Map OPPOSITE PAGE, Left: Photos of easements Sketches and Map by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
Arthur Storey Park
Gessner Park and Ride
Keegans Bayou Trails
Hospitals/ University PlazAmericas
Hillcroft Transit Center
Bellaire Boulevard 2.2 miles
OPEN SPACE NETWORKS Houston has approximately 2,500 miles of bayous, creeks and drainage easements. Half of the mileage is natural and half man-made. Many of the waterways were lined with concrete as a means to enhance the flow of water. It is only recently that this strategy has been questioned and a new natural approach is being adopted. The Sharpstown neighborhood has over seven miles of bayous and drainage easements. These easements could provide vital north-south links in an alternative pedestrian network weaving throughout Sharpstown. The system of bayous and drainage easements is an opportunity to generate greater community connectivity and link destinations in the neighborhood. In addition, softening the edges of concrete-lined ditches could create more green space and enhance water absorption.
ABOVE, Right: Map of Waterways RIGHT: Drainage Sketches OPPOSITE PAGE, Top Left: Drainage Easement Opportunity Map OPPOSITE PAGE, Left: Ditch photos Map, sketches and photographs by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
Sharpstown Super Neighborhood
Bellaire Boulevard Hillcroft Avenue
STRATEGIES | Optimizing Transit
COMPLETE STREETS Bellaire is an important corridor connecting east to west from the Texas Medical Center to Highway 6, and passing through the Sharpstown Super Neighborhood. Hillcroft Avenue is one of the primary north to south streets in the area.
Harbor Town Dr .5 mi
ABOVE, Left: Distance between Street Lights, Bellaire and Hillcroft ABOVE, Right: Pedestrian Deaths 2008-2012, from www.governing.com OPPOSITE PAGE: Complete Streets Opportunity Map by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
ABOVE: Bellaire Street Section BELOW: Hillcroft Street Section
High Star Dr Bellaire Blvd
In fact, between 2008 and 2012 there were 13 pedestrian deaths near the intersection of Bellaire and Hillcroft. And while Sharpstownâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population makes up only 1% of the total Houston MSA population, it accounts for 3% of the 499 pedestrian deaths in the region.
One of the major challenges in this section of Houston is that there are few safe places for pedestrians to cross the street. The
average distance between signaled crosswalks is one-half mile, a distance that can encourage people to risk an unsafe crossing.
Governing found that in the Houston MSA Census tracts with poverty rates over 25% had a pedestrian fatality rate of 14 deaths per 100,000 people, while areas with less than 15% poverty had a fatality rate of 6 deaths per 100,000. Taming traffic, introducing new transit opportunities and continuing to improve pedestrian infrastructure could all increase safety and walkability in the area.
YES Prep Public School
Bellaire Blvd Retail
St Paul Presbyterian Church
Fo R d
PLAZAMERICAS In 2010 the original Sharpstown Mall was re-branded as PlazAmericas and transformed into a hybrid mall and mercado. Small vendors and shops fill the spaces once occupied by national brands. While the transformation had the potential to succeed, given the entrepreneurial spirit of the neighborhood, markets thrive in areas with high visibility and heavy pedestrian traffic. As a result, much of the space inside PlazAmericas is vacant and 21the expansive parking lotSOCCER nearlyFIELDS empty.
+/- 26 ACRES
Identifying design strategies for both the programmed spaces inside the mall and the remaining site is an opportunity to provide new amenities and open spaces in the center of a dense and thriving neighborhood.
21For example, the approximately 37 SKATE PARKS 77-acre site of PlazAmericas, if cleared and transformed into a park, would be enough land area to meet the neighborhoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s park deficit of 78-acres. Or a more hybrid approach could be adopted. For example, onehalf of the existing 52-acre parking area could contain 21 soccer fields or two parks the size of Discovery Green downtown. Other programmatic interventions could also be explored to enhance pedestrian connections, particularly as a means to connect the surrounding context to the site.
LEFT: Map of PlazAmericas RIGHT, Top to Bottom: Diagram of Parking and Potential New Uses; Conceptual Sketch Diagram and sketches by H. Ansari, J.Lemley, C.Murray, A.Parker, M. Rivas
PLAZAMERICAS In 2010 Sharpstown Mall underwent a $10 million renovation to become PlazAmericas. The space contains just under 640,000 square feet of retail. Today, there are approximately 100 stores operating in PlazAmericas. The major tenants are Burlington Coat Factory, Melrose, and a number of footwear chains as well as the 83,000 square foot Mercado. Approximately half of the leasable space is currently vacant. Identifying design strategies to turn the mall inside out could draw more shoppers and visitors to the site. This could include strategies to extend entry ways out to connect to the existing context and providing new amenities such as green spaces, sports fields, shade structures and other elements.
RIGHT: PlazAmericas Floor Plans and Current Vacancy Vacant Space BELOW: PlazAmericas Mercado OPPOSITE PAGE, Top: PlazAmericas Diagram OPPOSITE PAGE, Bottom: PlazAmericas
YES Prep Bellaire Blvd
nt Eas eme
Jane Long Academy
IMPACT ZONE CONNECT community campus is being created to serve as a hub for community-based partner activities and programs in the Sharpstown and Gulfton communities. When complete the 15-acre campus will include a new community center, school, soccer field and other amenities. The CONNECT partnership has identified an â&#x20AC;&#x153;Impact Zoneâ&#x20AC;? for their activities, which is a one-mile radius surrounding the campus (see map to the left).
Schools and Parks
Within the boundaries of the Impact Zone are a community center, library, post office, park, two grocery stores, five pharmacies, five schools and eleven places of worship. A number of opportunities exist within the Impact Zone, and include exploring methods to create shared use agreements for area parks and green spaces, identifying underutilized sites and properties including parking lots and vacant buildings for re-use, and generating safe pedestrian connections between the institutions and organizations that serve the area. Finally, strategies to enhance the environment and landscape of area apartment complexes, including play spaces, gardens or other design interventions, could improve the quality of life for residents in the zone.
RIGHT, Top to Bottom: Diagram of Schools and Parks; Diagram of Opportunity Sites; Diagram of Area Transit and Networks OPPOSITE PAGE, Left: Aerial of Impact Zone
Participants and Sponsors Participants
Community Design Workshop
University of Houston College of Architecture Student Team, Spring 2016 Homa Ansari Jeff Lemley Cara Murray Andrew Parker Monica Rivas *This document includes research prepared by students in Spring 2016
Community Design Resource Center
Susan Rogers, Director Adelle Main, Senior Research Assistant Barbara Blanco Gonzalez, Research Assistant Minelya De Leon, Research Assistant Tran Le, Research Assistant
Honored Guests and Critics Brian Burks Alice Lee Joseph Permetti Annie Trinh Anne Whitlock Andrea Gonzalez Alex Lahti Eric Leshinsky Rafael Longoria Sana Rehman
The Collaborative Community Design Initiative is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Architecture Center Houston Foundation. The initiative would not be possible without the generous commitment of time from stakeholders and professionals across Houston. We would like to thank all of our partners and supporters.