Esplanade Improvement Project FAQ

By | May 20, 2016

What is the esplanade improvement project?

The esplanade improvement project aims to improve the esplanades so that they reinforce the appeal and identity of the larger Montrose community, and contribute aesthetically to the neighborhood. Materials for each esplanade have been selected with for their high quality and low maintenance requirements over the long term.

Some trees are proposed for replacement, but 200-gallon live oaks native to the area and spaced appropriately (to allow them to grow to full maturity) will be installed in their place. They will create a canopy, and their shade will provide enjoyment for generations to come. Each esplanade will be fully irrigated to further allow vegetation to mature and survive. Below the canopy of the trees, a mix of hardscape and vegetation is planned, with an opportunity to include lighting and art where appropriate. The enhanced esplanades will be maintained by the Montrose Management District.

The esplanade improvement project is part of a larger enhancement effort that includes gateway monument markers at key intersections, and restoration of the bridge lighting along the US 59 overpasses. Five esplanades are proposed for improvement in 2016, including four along Lovett Boulevard and an additional esplanade along Yoakum Street. This project was presented to District stakeholders as part of the larger enhancement effort presentation (including the special parking area application) at several community meetings, including meetings with the Neartown Super Neighborhood and the Avondale Civic Association. In addition, it was presented at a public engagement meeting in December of 2015. The project broke ground in May of 2016.

Some trees were removed – why?

The esplanade enhancement program aims to build esplanades that offer the large scale tree canopy beloved in many areas of Houston. Creating such a canopy requires specific tree species (most notably the live oak) and appropriate spacing to be fully effective. Trees were chosen for removal based on diligent research and guidance from City of Houston and horticulture experts to ensure the longevity of the landscaping.

A number of trees currently in place along the medians would hinder the project or worse, destroy it. For example, some esplanades are currently inhabited by the Chinese Tallow tree, an invasive species with a short life span that inhibits and destroys other plant life, and is considered a “prohibited species” in Texas. You can learn more about the Chinese Tallow tree and its impact in Texas here.

Why have you halted the project?

We realized that some of our stakeholders weren’t aware of the scope of the project, and we want to address that. We hope that this FAQ and our updates on the website along the way will demonstrate to those who live, work and do business in the District that our improvements strategies are well-founded in responsible stewardship, and based on accountable and publicly reported planning. We want the best for Montrose, and that includes care and maintenance of our trees and plant life. We want to create long-term legacy solutions that add to the appeal of our neighborhoods and commercial areas.

What will happen next?

Completion of these five esplanades is expected by the end of summer 2016. Additional esplanades are to be completed over the next few years as part of an overall master plan of District improvements.

Each phase will be carefully coordinated with our community partners. For example, improvements to some esplanades will take place as part of other roadway, infrastructure or sidewalk improvements undertaken by the City of Houston or the newly created Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 27. We intend to collaborate when the opportunity arises to share cost or work in tandem as part of overall roadway improvements.

This year, Montrose will see additional improvements such as:

  • curb repairs
  • paver installations (to alleviate overall maintenance and excess watering, and to mitigate vehicular damage to esplanades)
  • irrigation installation (permanent low water-use drip irrigation with high-efficiency equipment & climate-based controllers)
  • bed preparation (replacing existing soils susceptible to vehicle pollution with new, high-quality organic soil and mulch, creating a healthier environment for new plants to thrive).

We intend to close 2016 celebrating the completion of the Bridge Lighting project. Extensive effort has been put into choosing the best quality lighting to be installed along each bridge, ensuring a better, longer lasting product. As with all our improvement initiatives, the intent of the bridge lighting project is to provide long term aesthetic improvements, reinforcing the image of Montrose for generations. To read the full Service Improvement Plan, click here.

How can we learn more and stay in the “know”?

We encourage everyone to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check our website for current news and events. Additionally, the public is welcome at all board meetings, and invited to join our several working committees that welcome participation by the interested public. A schedule of all meetings can be found here.