Note from Storm: This issue’s Feature Article is about Houston’s $800 million urban river restoration program, which is designed to trigger $56 billion in private investment.
My recent conversations with local Houston leaders Kevin Shanley (landscape architect with SWA Group, a leading international landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm) and Anne Olson (President of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership), have convinced me that this is one of the best examples of large-area urban revitalization in the U.S.
It’s run by a non-profit public-private partnership (almost all of the funding is private). This means it’s being treated as an ongoing program, rather than a one-time project. That’s essential, because revitalization can’t be engineered on a schedule: we have to keep doing the improvements to an area until revitalization kicks in.
It’s also an excellent example because it’s renewing, repurposing, and reconnecting. The health of the river is being renewed, old industrial lands are being repurposed as public parks, and new pedestrian bridges have been built to reconnect neighborhoods with the water (after they were isolated by badly-planned major roads).