Banking on Buffalo Bayou | Fall 2015

Dear Friends:

What a perfect fall day it was. On October 3rd, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) held a grand opening celebration to showcase the completion of Buffalo Bayou Park. Along the trails and at destinations throughout the park, thousands of visitors enjoyed music and dance performances, poetry readings, zumba, yoga, arts activities and more! The day culminated with a procession where volunteers carried more than 50 illuminated lanterns along the park’s trails and a fireworks display. It was truly a magical moment!

With Buffalo Bayou Park’s grand opening behind us, BBP is excited and gratified to see people from all walks of life using the park on a regular basis – volleyball players at Eleanor Tinsley Park, children climbing logs at the Barbara Fish Daniel Nature Play Area, dogs frolicking at the Johnny Steele Dog Park, and bicyclists, walkers and joggers enjoying the trails. Special events are already being held at The Water Works, and our canoe/kayak and bike rental concessionaires are up and running.

Houstonians aren’t the only ones visiting Buffalo Bayou Park. Recently, we’ve had several out of town groups take tours and meet with BBP staff to learn about our park’s capital campaign and administrative structure. Additionally Vice President Joe Biden spoke at The Water Works to promote the city’s hike and bike trails that are being constructed with federal funds.

While BBP’s staff has been busy operating and maintaining Buffalo Bayou Park, we’ve also begun planning for other park enhancements along the waterway east of downtown.

This newsletter highlights what’s happening in Buffalo Bayou Park, what’s in the works for Buffalo Bayou’s east sector, and what’s being said about all of our work in local and national media.

As we enter the holiday season, we invite you, your friends and family to visit Buffalo Bayou Park and get the New Year off to a healthy start with a bike ride or hike!

We look forward to seeing you out on Buffalo Bayou!


Collin Cox                                        Anne Olson
Board Chair                                     President

The Dunlavy Opens

After a three-week long soft opening, The Dunlavy at Buffalo Bayou Park’s Lost Lake Visitor Center is already a favorite spot for casual dining during the day and elegant private parties at night. The eatery and special event space is operated by Clark Cooper Concepts, the restaurant team behind Brasserie 19, Coppa Osteria, Punk’s, and Salt Air. The Lost Lake Visitor Center, designed by Larry Speck of Page, is reminiscent of a glass tree house, tucked away in a beautiful park woodland. The holidays will be perfect for bringing in guests for breakfast or lunch… And of course, consider booking the space for an intimate holiday or New Year party!

Hours for The Kitchen at The Dunlavy: Everyday, 8 am to 4 pm

To book a private event at The Dunlavy, please visit Clark Cooper's website and click “Group Dining Request.”

Word is Spreading about Buffalo Bayou Park and BBP

This fall, we met with several groups to discuss Buffalo Bayou Park, BBP’s history, and the organization’s past and future projects.
Board members from City Parks Alliance, a national organization that advocates for urban parks, were in Houston as guests of Doreen Stoller, Hermann Park Conservancy Executive Director and an Alliance board member. The group took a pontoon boat ride through Buffalo Bayou Park and then ventured along the bayou’s east sector. As we passed historic industrial buildings and abandoned wooden docks, Alliance Executive Director Catherine Nagel remarked, “This is one of my new favorite green spaces.”
Waller Creek, a two-mile urban stream in Austin, is undergoing major restoration and revitalization. The green artery will eventually connect major destinations such as the Austin Convention Center, State Capitol, University of Texas, Lady Bird Lake, and the city’s musical and entertainment district.  Representatives from Waller Creek Conservancy were in Houston to meet with staff from BBP and Discovery Green. In early 2016, the Conservancy’s board will return for a more extensive visit and meetings with BBP. We look forward to their visit and staying in touch to keep up with our shared experiences.

In Lafayette, Louisiana, an energetic group of volunteers is spearheading a $60 million project to restore Lafayette Central Park, a beautiful 100-acre site in the heart of the city. While in Houston, board members and staffers leading this effort took tours of Buffalo Bayou Park, Discovery Green and Hermann Park. The group was particularly interested in learning about Buffalo Bayou Park’s capital campaign and long-term maintenance contract. We look forward to hearing about this exciting project as it unfolds.
On November 18th, Vice President Joe Biden visited Buffalo Bayou Park to tout Houston’s hike and bike trails that are being constructed with $15 million of federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds awarded to Houston in 2012. BBP has partnered with the Houston Parks & Recreation Department, Houston Parks Board and Greater East End Management District to provide matching dollars for trail construction along Buffalo and White Oak Bayous, and on-street connections in the East End. BBP is the project sponsor of a $4.6 million TIGER trail that will connect Sesquicentennial Park to Allen’s Landing in downtown.

Looking East

Now that Buffalo Bayou Park is complete and downtown’s TIGER trail and Sunset Coffee Building’s restoration are wrapping up, BBP is initiating plans for the bayou’s east sector. Planning is underway to make an important trail connection from Allen’s Landing to McKee Street east of downtown. This addition will link to several miles of trails that are already in place.

Grant Awarded for Buffalo Bayou East Sector Plan

Earlier this year, we were honored to receive a $500,000 grant from Houston Endowment Inc. to develop a strategic plan for the bayou’s east sector extending from US 59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin. This effort will build from the recommendations of BBP’s 2002 Buffalo Bayou and Beyond study. While the west and downtown sectors of Buffalo Bayou are publicly owned and have existing nodes of activity, the east sector offers a “blank canvas” with a distinctly industrial character. The bayou can be a catalyst for development in both surrounding neighborhoods and the greater Houston region. In addition to considerable opportunities, the area presents significant challenges such as fragmented property ownership, low population density, and a lack of complementary uses fronting the bayou. Throughout 2016, BBP will work with consultants and community stakeholders to develop a vision and implementation strategy that will continue the transformative role that Buffalo Bayou is playing in downtown and the west sector.

Several planning efforts conducted over the past year will provide valuable information and research as Buffalo Bayou Partnership moves forward with the east sector plan.  

Livable Centers Study Completed

For nine months, BBP worked with the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation and Greater East End Management District on a Livable Centers Study. Sponsored by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, the planning initiative is designed to create walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, multi-modal transportation choices, and private investment leveraged with public improvements.

To improve access to Buffalo Bayou, the Livable Centers Study recommended:
  • Creating a complete streets network connecting north and south to Buffalo Bayou
  • Improving bikeway network connectivity
  • Constructing bridges that serve as connectors and strengthen neighborhood identity
  • Establishing a pedestrian sidewalk network
The study also looked at various scenarios for redeveloping bayou-fronting properties. Read the Livable Centers Study.

Urban Land Institute Experts Provide Recommendations for East End Development 

In November, BBP along with the Greater East End Management District, New Hope Housing and METRO sponsored an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) that focused on an area from Harrisburg to Buffalo Bayou. Over a two-day period, a group of ULI real estate and urban planning experts interviewed neighborhood stakeholders, business owners and developers.

At a community meeting, panelists presented their findings and offered recommendations for transit-oriented development along the Harrisburg light rail line. The group said the best way to stimulate residential and commercial development is to offer incentives through a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ). A final report will be issued within the coming month.

ULI TAPs provide expert, independent and unbiased input from real estate and planning professionals.  Panelists bring valuable points of view to help kick-start critical conversation and decision-making regarding land use and real estate development challenges.

BBP sincerely thanks those individuals who were part of the East End: Gary Altergott (Morris Architects), Bart Barrett (Wood Partners), Justin Boyar (HFF), Bill Fulton (Kinder Institute for Urban Research), Ron Lindsey (RDL Consulting), Eta Paransky (City of Houston), Abbey Roberson (HOK), and Sherry Weesner (Scenic Houston).

BBP to Participate in Kinder Institute’s Community Bridges Program

BBP will be joining a group of Fifth Ward organizations in a service learning program known as Community Bridges. Through an academic course and active fieldwork sponsored by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Community Bridges Fellows develop and implement Fifth Ward neighborhood projects to address social inequality, poverty and socioeconomic mobility. As part of the program, BBP has been assigned Fellow Caroline Brigham, a Rice University junior architecture student, who will research and plan green space connections from Buffalo Bayou to the Fifth Ward. Two tributaries known as Japhet Creek and Ingraham Gulley will be the focus of Caroline’s work. BBP has already purchased land along Japhet Creek and hopes to undertake a master planning effort to fully restore the property. Other Fifth Ward Community Bridges participants include: Can Do Houston, Can River Gardens, Covenant Community Capital, Executive Personnel Staffing Incorporated, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Pleasant Hill Leadership Institute, School Literacy & Culture, Small Steps Nurturing Center and YES Prep Fifth Ward.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership is the non-profit organization revitalizing and transforming Buffalo Bayou, Houston’s most significant natural resource.

Collin Cox, Board Chair

Anne Olson
, President

In the News

Cities are finally treating water as a resource, not a nuisance, Vox, September 5, 2015

Lighting and leaves at Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston Chronicle, October 1, 2015

Buffalo Bayou becomes prime city destination, Houston Chronicle, October 3, 2015

Houston Restores Buffalo Bayou Park, Huffington Post, October 8, 2015

An Attack of Houston Envy, and I'm Afraid It May be the Neuro-Invasive Kind, Dallas Observer, October 13, 2015

The Texas Miracle wasn’t just economic; it was philanthropic, Philanthropy, Fall 2015

Houston's New Buffalo Bayou Park Reimagines Urban Waterfront, Curbed, November 11, 2015

Float Your Boat, Houston Chronicle, November 14, 2015

Houston Goes Global with New World-Class Parks and Bayous, Forbes, November 19, 2015
Houston Chronicle reporter Molly Glentzer’s October 1 article, Buffalo Bayou Park gives Houstonians a new perspective on the city, was picked up by the Associated Press and republished in the Washington Times; San Francisco Chronicle; Texarkana Gazette; San Antonio Express News; Fort Worth Star Telegram; Lubbock Avalanche-Journal; Bryan-College Station Eagle; and Daily Journal-Franklin.

Getting the Word Out

BBP staffers have been out and about spreading the word about BBP and Buffalo Bayou. Take a look at who we’ve been speaking to: Briarhills Super Neighborhood, Cushman Wakefield Associates, East Montrose Civic Association, Greenwood King, Gulfway Hobby Airport Rotary Club, Heights Rotary Club, Houston Area Sea Kayakers, Houston Center, Hyde Park Civic Association, International Facility Management Association, Keller Williams, Life Enrichment of Houston, Memorial Garden Club, Reveille Club, Rice University Continuing Education Class, River Oaks Colonneh Club and The Met.

To book a BBP speaker, please contact Trudi Smith, Director of PR and Events.

Vote for BBP!

Buffalo Bayou Partnership is an official charity of the Chevron Houston Marathon’s Run for a Reason program. This has provided us a great platform for raising awareness and money for our organization.
Again this year, Chevron is giving away $50,000 to the charity that wins the most votes in their online poll. Please vote for BBP (and don't forget to pass the link along to friends and family as well!)
Vote for BBP!
Help BBP continue to revitalize and transform Buffalo Bayou, Houston's most significant resource, by making a year-end gift. Thank you!
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Summer 2015
Spring 2015
Fall 2014
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