Forward-thinking master planning takes the next step for The Energy Corridor District
Imagine, if you will, a business district that is pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, people-oriented and enjoyable, a place that attracts and retains employees, increases property values and facilitates business development.
It’s a vision The Energy Corridor District is fully engaged in, imagining a place with a greater sense of place.
Embracing its long-standing role as a leader for West Houston, The District is extending its mission to make The Energy Corridor the nation’s premier place to work, live, play and invest by developing an aspirational Area Master Plan designed to rethink how public and private spaces are connected, how people access transportation, parks and other amenities, and how an urban center built in a city without zoning can create a stronger identity.
Some bold visions are already taking shape.
Texas A&M University’s Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning students are developing site plans designed to transform METRO’s Addicks Park and Ride, connect the north and south sides of IH-10, and create new places for people to congregate and enjoy an Energy Corridor lifestyle.
On a grander scale, The District is now working with Sasaki, OJB and Toole Design Group - three award-winning architecture, planning, urban design, landscape architecture and civil engineering firms that won the bid to create an Area Master Plan. With a focus on collaboration and sustainability, the Sasaki team has begun meeting with corporate stakeholders in The District to hear their visions, needs and concerns.
The time is ripe. More than $2 billion in private investment is in the works for The Energy Corridor over the next several years. And at a recent Bisnow conference called The Future of The Energy Corridor, development and commercial real estate pundits said both national and international businesses looking to relocate have this place in their sights.
“By developing an Area Master Plan we are taking a regional, visionary urban and landscaping approach to enhance and leverage the assets found in one of the fastest-growing regions along the Gulf Coast,” explains Clark Martinson, general manager for The District.
As with all of The District’s planning efforts throughout the years, says Martinson, this one intends to develop both solutions and amenities designed to increase the attractiveness and coherent feel of The District. That, he says, can create enduring value for property owners, employees and residents here.
It’s the next, big step of planning from a district that has long planned a better future – from developing its Livable Centers proposal that would transform the Addicks Park and Ride into a multi-faceted destination, to spearheading the West Houston Trails Master Plan and developing alternative transportation programs.
The idea behind a master plan, explains Martinson, is to optimize the function and value of private and public plans collaboratively.
One approach, he says, is to promote compact quality development with greater interconnectivity. Another could create new uses for public spaces that could become a destination like downtown’s Discovery Green.
Both Sasaki’s and TAMU planning student’s visions will be unveiled in the months ahead.
“Creating a master plan for an established business center in a city where development is driven more by property owners than urban planners is a challenge,” Martinson says. “But visioning a place with a better sense of place can help guide The District’s transportation and streetscape programs, while giving developers and property owners a roadmap for the future that can help keep The Energy Corridor competitive.”