Idea Forum (archive of community engagement activities, meetings, and surveys)
This is your neighborhood. We are seeking your input on how to improve it and make it a true livable center! In order to focus your feedback, we've created separate surveys for different aspects of the study. Each survey asks for a name and your topic-specific feedback. We welcome you to share your e-mail address so we can update you with project news and important announcements.
We will be gathering community input on each survey topic throughout the Study process, please see initial findings detailed below and leave us your comment.
Connectivity and Transportation
There are many world-class destinations in the neighborhood, which also boasts beautiful street design and trees that create shade. The community generally feels safe as a place to walk, and the area's walkability contributes to a sense of community, neighborliness, healthy living, and exploration. Also, the METRO Rail Red Line is within walking distance, which is a benefit.
Impediments to walkability in Museum Park include: lack of continuous shade and lighting, narrowed and damaged sidewalks, lack of ADA-accessible curbs, unsafe pedestrian crossings, limited pedestrian amenities, and narrow streets that result in pedestrian-bicyclist-automobile conflicts.
Desired improvements include paths leading to Hermann Park and Rice University, additional speed limit and stop signs, wayfinding mechanisms, sidewalk and curb access improvements, pedestrian-level lighting, sidewalks as natural trails, viable pedestrian connections to the museums, and pedestrian crosswalks throughout the neighborhood.
There are many dedicated and on-street secure and well monitored parking options in Museum Park, there are also several parking challenges, including: an insufficient and diffuse number of spaces, inadequate parking information for visitors, a negative impact on the neighborhood aesthetic, a negative impact on homeowners and businesses, the need for a designated lot for buses, restrictive time limits and costs imposed by meters, lack of parking signage, and use of visitor and residential parking spaces by area employees.
Museum Park boasts a variety of transit options, including access to the METRO Rail Red Line, nearby bus lines, and Bike Share options.
Challenges include a lack of an east-west axis connection, no rapid transit corridor, problems with bus transit routing and distance to stops, issues related to wait times and routes, the failure of transit to contribute to neighborhood cohesion, and a lack of bicycle infrastructure (e.g., bike paths and bike racks).
Housing, Land Use and Economic Development
Land Use and Urban Development
Residents generally agree that land uses should encourage opportunities to live, work, and play in the Museum Park community, and that the growing densification and gentrification of the area increases the base for commerce and offers opportunities for growth.
Residents noted several positives regarding land in Museum Park, including a diversity of land uses and preserved greenspaces, clear delineation between residential and non-residential uses, property along Almeda Road, Binz Street, and Main Street is available for commercial development. In addition, green space opportunities created by METRO street closures and the community’s substantial amount of rights-of-way offer current benefits and further opportunities for positive land use.
Identified land use challenges include perceived gaps in city codes and ordinances that regulate development, the need to balance new and existing development, and the impact of density on flooding and traffic. In the context of urban development, it was stated that connectivity between Midtown, Museum Park and Third Ward can be improved.
Residents expressed interest in the investigation of special purpose districts, form-based codes, nature corridors, and urban transit corridors.
Museum Park benefits from employment diversity since it is located between Downtown Houston and the Texas Medical Center and is accessible via US Highway 59, SH 288, and METRO Rail. Inviting and encouraging new commercial development appears to be a consensus goal. In line with this, it was noted that although Binz Street is slowly becoming a restaurant corridor, there are insufficient restaurants and a lack of neighborhood retail services such as grocers, drug stores, and dry cleaning establishments. Highland Village and Rice Village were cited as examples of the type of shopping area that could be developed. Moreover, Almeda Road is perceived as not having achieved its potential as a retail corridor.
Small businesses that are aligned in scale and scope with the community – such as those offering professional services in fields such as architecture and healthcare – are other desired forms of commercial development. Lastly, residents hope that the area can attract jobs that pay a variety of wage levels.
Residents noted the diversity and relative affordability as positives of the housing in the area. However, rising prices are viewed as affecting affordability. In addition, concerns were highlighted regarding construction quality, the gating of new housing developments, new construction replacing older housing and imposing a strain on infrastructure, densification, and an aging housing stock. Residents expressed a desire to maintain the historic character of the community by preserving older homes, which are viewed as a beneficial aspect of the Museum Park community’s identity.
Residents note the positive benefits from the presence of active, knowledgeable stakeholders. In addition, the Museum Park Super Neighborhood website is viewed as a community benefit, along with National Night Out, Museum Experience Day, and Sunday Streets.
Stated challenges include that the Super Neighborhood Council membership does not reflect a majority of the community, the substantial number of renters causes the community to feel transient or temporary, and the absence of a community gathering place deters community cohesion.
Lastly, the issues of (1) what can be done to encourage social mobility and (2) what can be done to encourage an integrated community in the face of rapid change were raised.
Character of Place
A number of issues related to placemaking (and place) were discussed. When asked where events take place, the responses included Lucille’s Restaurant, esplanades, Miller Outdoor Theatre, and Crawford Street (for National Night Out). Museum Park Super Neighborhood was described as more compact than other Super Neighborhoods, with a strong identify and a lot of integrity, though a lack of definition of hard edges was identified as a challenge.
Potential is seen in the possibility that the proposed U.S. Highway 59 suppression initiative will make the community a gateway. Potential is also seen in the existence of well-defined boulevards, esplanaded streets, and dead end areas created near the METRO Red Line. Supplementing these possibilities are the multiple in-community and proximate venues that residents view as assets. These include the museums and Hermann Park, which is viewed as a resource that keeps the community healthy.
In terms of challenges, residents note that there is no common public space within the boundaries of the community. Connections among venues are also perceived as lacking, with the danger of crossing Binz Street and Hermann Drive mentioned among other concerns. Gaps in recreational facilities include the absence of a swimming pool, playing fields and gathering areas for children, tennis courts, and basketball courts.
The community is viewed as having a “great brand” in need of better marketing, more recognition, and more exposure. Better connectivity and sustainability were recommended as means of achieving these objectives. With respect to the former, a cultural trail to connect the north side of the community to Downtown Houston was proposed. Reference was made to the fact that there are several ongoing branding efforts, including those by the Houston Southeast, Museum Park, and the Museum District.
Since not everyone in Museum District is in Museum Park, the need to distinguish “Museum Park” from “Museum District” was identified. In addition, some residents expressed confusion about what, if anything, branding efforts would achieve.
Museum District signage and Hermann Park signage are viewed as helpful, but residents mentioned deficiencies such as inadequate wayfinding signage for attractions, bike route signage, and nighttime illumination for signs.
Landscaping assets identified by residents included a good tree mix and boulevards that serve as “green fingers.” Several “smart choices” regarding landscaping were recommended, including implementing wastewater management to recharge groundwater, repurposing wide roads as bike paths, using landscaping to deter heat, utilizing native-adapted plantings for shade, using esplanades to showcase a sustainable landscape, and taking advantage of the potential of “end cap” gardens. The following perceived challenges were identified:
Discontinuous and uncoordinated planting that impede the creation of an ecosystem
Non-native trees and plants that are not consistent with landscaping throughout the area
Underutilized public rights-of-way (and the lack of public spaces tied to this
Lack of public education regarding landscaping
An absence of outreach with other organizations
Residents expressed the need for more sustainability with respect to both residential and commercial development. Sustainability was also discussed within the context of landscaping, as noted above.