New storm data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, or NOAA, could lead to sweeping changes in the way real estate is developed in the Houston area.
The research shows the amount of rain typical of a 100-year storm has risen by as much as 5 inches. That means the Houstonians could expect up to 18 inches of rain in a single day compared with the previous estimate of 12 to 14 inches.
Harris County government reporter Mihir Zaveri joins Nancy Sarnoff to explain how developers, home owners and businesses could be affected by the new data, which is used to determine floodplain regulations, map flood zones and design food control projects.
The data, which is preliminary and subject to change, is expected to be finalized and published in May. It will be the first statewide update to NOAA's rainfall estimates in 50 years.
A world where a self-driving car is a common mode of transportation is not that far away. Such a scenario has implications for real estate development. Take office buildings, which in Houston are required to have 2 1/2 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of space. Will today's newest buildings be obsolete by 2040 when fewer people drive to work – or at least park there? Hal Sharp, a principal with the Houston office of Gensler, joins Nancy and Allyn to talk about how buildings can be developed to accommodate cars today and people in those spaces a couple decades from now.
Two decades from now, downtown Houston could be a be a thriving neighborhood where the streets teem with life seven days a week. In this future world, start-ups in modern offices would create the latest technological advances in the fields of energy and health care. Streets would be filled with driverless cars and a 5-mile pedestrian and bike loop would connect downtown with surrounding neighborhoods. Central Houston’s Bob Eury recently presented this ambitious proposal to a group of downtown stakeholders. He joins Nancy and Allyn to talk in more detail about the plan and why it could work.
A pair of developers from Montreal join Nancy and Allyn to talk urban housing trends from around the world and their newest Houston project: an upscale development in Midtown with 14 pint-sized condominiums.
Before the storm hit, Amber and Lenny Ambrose packed up their two young kids and small dog and drove to Amber's parent's house in Nederland, outside of Beaumont. The Ambrose's house in Candlelight Forest flooded during the Tax Day storm in 2016, and they didn't want a repeat of what happened then when they woke up the morning after the storm to soggy floors and confused kiddos. They made some important preparations and left town. Their flood insurance policy renewed Aug. 27, the night Harvey flooded their house. It was a good thing they didn't let their policy lapse, even though they could have. They were told in 2015 they were no longer required to carry it. Amber tells their story in the final episode of this Harvey series.
From episode 23, Nancy and Erin talk to Chronicle journalists Mike Morris (City Hall) and Mihir Zaveri (Harris County) about their reporting on floods and development after two major flooding events two years in a row.
Residents of Canyon Gate say they were never told about the warning that said their neighborhood could be subject to severe flooding because it was built in a so-called flood pool behind Barker Reservoir. Investors who bought millions in bonds that financed the subdivision weren't told either. Houston Chronicle's James Drew talks to Nancy about his investigation into Canyon Gate and what was and wasn't disclosed.
Brandon Polson recounts his journey from helping his neighbors escape their flood-ravaged apartment complex to spending an evening with one of the biggest celebrities on the planet.
As Harvey's flood waters continued to rise in Braes Heights, Scott Davis, his wife and their two young daughters fled to a neighbor's place – a brand new house built five feet above grade. As Davis sees it, the safest place to ride out the hurricane was in a new house. As a home building consultant, he also addresses past Houston floods, how the market responded and how development may change in the future.
Before Hurricane Harvey's flood waters could even recede, the national media was reporting on Houston's lack of zoning and how it played a role in the floods.
Local law professor, land use expert and repeat Looped In guest Matt Festa explains how that's a distorted argument and cites a report he recently co-authored on land use in Houston, the "Unzoned City."
From his second-story apartment in west Houston, Milton Lawson thought he had avoided the worst of Harvey. But then officials began releasing water from the nearby Addicks reservoir. Lawson recalls his journey from evacuation, to rundown FEMA hotel, and then back to his apartment a week after the storm to try to retrieve the one thing that mattered to him most.
Looped In returns with a multi-part series exploring the lives of several Houstonians who survived Hurricane Harvey but remain in a state of limbo as they seek to rebuild after the worst rainstorm in U.S. history. In coming episodes listeners will also hear from real estate and development experts who will discuss what the storm means for Houston's future and the future of development in our city.
Research has shown that living near a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or Starbucks can increase the value of your home. The same might be true of craft beer breweries, these suddenly popular hangouts that have been multiplying in Houston's inner city and some suburbs too. Nancy talks to Chronicle editor Ronnie Crocker about the craft brewery movement and how it's changing the real estate market. Not only is Ronnie the Chronicle’s beer writer but he lives within biking distance of four breweries.
Retailers don’t just take up space in shopping malls and strip centers. Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart and others have been building giant warehouses to store everything from toothpaste to toilet paper to toys. Nancy talks to Chronicle reporter Dylan Baddour about what’s behind the building boom.
Nancy hits the road to visit painter John Calaway in his new studio in Acres Homes, a historically African-American neighborhood that has long attracted artists for its open space and affordable land. Now, though, high-end developers are discovering the area, offering hope for better infrastructure while introducing fears of gentrification.
Nancy and her Chronicle colleagues Allyn West and Jody Schmal discuss the hour they spent with the new owners and consultants (including James Beard award-winner Chris Shepherd) of the Heights-area farmers market.
When real estate investor Mark Davis released some early renderings for a redevelopment project on lower Westheimer, they were criticized by some who didn’t like the plans for parking on the site. Davis tells Nancy and Allyn what he actually wants to do with the property, clears up some misconceptions, and voices some of the challenges of developing in arguably the most urban spot in town.
City planner Christopher Andrews joins Nancy and her co-host Allyn West to discuss how Houston’s parking ordinance and other building regulations shape the way real estate is developed here. They discuss one project at length – a lower Montrose antique shop where a redevelopment proposal has caused a stir among a group of Houstonians passionate about development.
Texas may be a long way from legalizing marijuana, but if that day ever comes Houston's real estate market could change dramatically. That's what happened in Denver, where commercial real estate prices have spiked and apartment rents have doubled, in part, because of the thriving pot industry. Nancy and her editor, Al Lewis, were at a real estate conference in Denver recently where they met marijuana magnate Pepe Breton. Breton joined Nancy and Al by phone to talk about the challenges of his business and how he's preparing for future markets to open up.
When Houston Chronicle managing editor Vernon Loeb arrived in Houston some four years ago he rented an apartment in Montrose and began exploring the area on foot. An avid marathoner, Loeb learned his new neighborhood by running it almost every morning. He was struck by how Craftsman bungalows and Victorian mansions cozied up to four-story townhomes and 1950s apartment complexes in a harmonious way. Yet Loeb's modern view of Montrose stands in contrast with the way many longtime Houstonians remember the area. Loeb joins Nancy and Allyn as they explore the past, present and future of Montrose.
New owners of the Heights-area farmers market say they want to expand the offerings with a seafood counter, a butcher and a baker. They plan to improve the space by adding bathrooms and fixing the jumbled parking area. Nancy and her colleague Mike Snyder (a loyal farmers market shopper) get the dirt on all the plans from one of the market’s new owners, Todd Mason.
In 1970s and 1980s Houston, skyscrapers were built as urban icons where form often overtook function. Nancy Sarnoff talks to the Chronicle's Allyn West about how the city’s newest office towers are transforming into dynamic spaces meant to engage workers and foster collaboration.
Nancy and Erin (she’s back for one more episode!) host their first live show from the lobby of downtown’s historic Texaco building – now a luxury apartment tower called The Star. In front of about 25 of their most loyal listeners, the ladies interview Dean Strombom, an architect with Gensler, about how the office of the future is changing the way people work.
A wave of new restaurants connected to local superchefs (such as James Beard Award-winning Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s and Chris Shepherd of Underbelly) are beginning to congregate in an unlikely place: the airport. From farm-to-table to Asian-fusion, the dining concepts at George Bush Intercontinental Airport are expanding as the city catches up with a national trend. Chronicle reporter Nancy Sarnoff is joined by food editor Greg Morago to discuss how airports are offering more restaurants that reflect the local flair.
On Erin's last official episode of Looped In, she and Nancy share memories of their past year podcasting about the quirks, the curiosities and the characters that define Houston real estate.
Looped In will continue, but the pair's nearly year-long partnership has come to an end following Erin's recent relocation to Washington D.C.
Before ending the episode, Nancy and Chronicle multimedia director Scott Kingsley put Erin in the hot seat for a final lighting round of questions.