Livable Centers Could be in Houston's Future

Today in West Houston developers and city leaders met to talk about what they call livable centers. One of their goals is also to reduce traffic. Bill stamps explain how it works.

Imagine walking out of your apartment and walking a hundred yards to work. For lunch or dinner you can walk to any restaurant nearby and later when you get off work there’s a workout gym right there as well. That’s the concept behind livable centers. Jonathan Brinsden is Chief operating officer of Midway companies which is building CityCentre where the old town and country mall used to be.

“If I’m an office tenant here or I own a company that has an office here, what is the value in having a conference center I can walk across the street to? What’s the value in having a world class hotel I can walk to? What’s the value for my employees for having amenities such as restaurants and retail and even the opportunity to live in the project and walk across the street to work?”

You don’t’ find many livable centers in Houston like you do in states like California or Colorado. One reason might be the relatively low housing prices. Here a person or family can buy a house for the same price it might cost someone to rent an apartment in California. But Jeff Taebel of the Houston—Galveston Area Council says even if the rent at a livable center is the same price as a mortgage — a family can still save money in the long run.

image of City Centre“I think in terms of a family looking at housing options, if you have to drive a long ways to work and then you get home and you’re still driving a long ways to school, and to the ballet lessons and to the store, time is worth something too.”

(sound of construction)

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the new CityCentre. The new loft apartments are moving their first tenants in in a few weeks. Shams Siddiquie wont’ be living there but he just moved from Denver and says they had similar live-work projects their.

“One of my colleagues was involved in the sale of those condominiums and he had a lot of sales because of convenience. People loved the fact that they could just eat at a local restaurant and work out and just do everything right there.”

Jeff Taeble agrees.

“I think one of things that livable centers do is give people an opportunity to live, work play, socialize without necessarily getting in their car to go to every destination.”

Although developers hope to build more livable centers in the Houston area, don’t expect to see them popping up anytime soon. Projects that large can take years to complete.

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston Public Radio News.