By Christina Autry
The first thing that many visitors to Houston notice is the absolute necessity of having a car. As our city continues to rapidly expand, our reliance on cars has played a huge part in shaping our living spaces. Fortunately, it is possible to convert the “concrete jungle” into greener, more pleasant areas that allow Houstonians to enjoy a less car-centric environment.
The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) and TxDOT recognize the need to rethink our development strategy. These organizations collaborate and provide funding for local governmental groups, such as the International District, to design Livable Center studies. H-GAC defines Livable Centers as “places where people can live, work, and play with less reliance on their cars.”
With the ultimate goal of Livable Centers being “to encourage a complementary mix of land uses that are designed to be walkable, connected, and accessible by multiple modes of transportation,” H-GAC accepts applications from organizations around the city who are reimagining their neighborhoods. “EADO (East Downtown) was the first Livable Center in the Houston area,” says Natali Hurtado, Deputy Executive Director of the International Management District (IMD). “IMD is striving to revitalize our area, and make it more attractive to businesses and residents,” says Hurtado.
The International District has partnered with H-GAC with plans to increase the desirability of the area. Natali Hurtado and Tony Allender, Urban Planning & Economic Development Specialist at Hawes Hill continue to work closely with Anita Hollman, H-GAC representative, among many community stakeholders, to plan Livable Centers projects according to the needs and character of the International District. These projects are intended to “transform