What’s New for September in Montrose
What’s new for September in the Montrose Management District? A whole lot, it turns out. The mobility and visual improvements committee has been busy working on multiple improvements to both beautify Montrose and make it safe and more efficient for businesses, residents and visitors. We spoke to the Executive Director of the Montrose District for a rundown of the progress.
MMD hired the engineering firm Walter P. Moore to evaluate the state of roadway infrastructure in the district, especially Lower Westheimer and Alabama. “We took the study and handed it to everyone downtown,” the Executive Director said. With the study complete, MMD is now focusing on funding from any source available to address the mobility issues.
“The importance is keeping this on their radar screen,” he said. “That’s the way to get things done.”
Richmond Light Rail
The extension of the METRO Light Rail University Line from the University to Houston to the Galleria area is currently stalled, due in part to a lack of funding and because plans originally called for the rail to go on Westpark Drive. In August, planning commissioners approved the designation of Richmond as a transit corridor street, the first step in extending the light rail westward. MMD testified at this hearing in support of the designation.
Montrose’s New Look
MMD has been busy working on new signage for the neighborhood, in order to give it an updated and uniform feel.
“The branding is going to take the form of some very cool-looking state-of-the-art signage with the Montrose logo and LED lighting for color control,”
the Executive Director said. The lighting on the signs will be able to be changed — for example: red, white, and blue for Fourth of July.
MMD is also in the process of adopting esplanades throughout the District from the Parks and Recreation Department. Once that happens, the District will be responsible for improving and maintaining all esplanades under it’s care. This will allow MMD to create a uniform landscaping plan throughout Montrose.
The City of Houston recently adopted a new parking ordinance creating the capacity for special parking districts. This eventually led to the installation of parking meters along the nightlight-rich portion of Washington Avenue.
“When they did that, we made it clear to them we didn’t want that in Montrose,” the Executive Director said.
Yet Montrose-area businesses continue to struggle with the city’s capacity-based parking requirements. MMD’s plan is to designate an area along the Montrose/Westheimer intersection, extending several block in each direction, to apply a different and more flexible standard for parking than that that currently exists. For example, a business might have a less-strenuous parking requirement if they provide a certain number of bike racks. He says simple adding more parking spaces is not a solution.
“In a place like Montrose that’s really critical because Montrose is so tight.”
In the meantime, MMD is working with BikeHouston to install 25 Montrose-branded bike racks in various locations throughout the district. But this also requires cooperation with the city to do things like sweep the streets and bike lanes regularly — something that currently happens twice a month —and repair the district’s many aging sidewalks.
“There has to be a link,” he said. “You can’t expect people to park and walk a couple blocks to their destination if you’re not going to repair the sidewalk. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
MMD received a grant to improve the lighting on the District’s six bridges spanning Highway 59 and recently met with TxDOT to collaborate on a plan for the project. MMD plans to issue a request for engineering proposals for the project by the end of the year. The overall plan is to meld the bridge’s lighting with the other aesthetic signage elements in the district. MMD will then work with TxDot to get approval for the engineering contract.