After several years’ worth of hype about a “mixed use development,” the actual site plan turns out to be a strip mall with slightly better architecture. This isn’t so bad, as things go – strip malls are functional, and aesthetics matter. But there seems to be some misconception that walkable, street-fronting retail isn’t doable on a small infill site like this.
To clear things up, here’s an alternate site plan. (Click for a PDF.)
Many developers would spring for a design like this, were it allowed as-of-right. Instead, such a design requires two variances; for parking, and for the City’s 25-foot setback rule. Previous attempts at obtaining these variances have failed, so one can’t really criticize “Heights Central Station” for hewing to what Houston Code tells us is optimal site design.