Banking on Buffalo Bayou (Fall 2014)
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Dear Friends:

Great public spaces make cities come alive and are key to their vitality. They also make residents feel proud of their city and often are the reason they decide to stay. Buffalo Bayou is doing all that and more.

History-making transformation is taking place along Houston’s historic waterway. If you walk, hike or just drive by Buffalo Bayou Park, you undoubtedly notice new pedestrian bridges, expansive tree plantings and other amenities under construction. Although the project won’t be fully completed until May 2015, Houstonians of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds are already enjoying the park in record numbers.

With the significant attention being given to this important effort, many people are unfamiliar with the other exciting projects and initiatives being spearheaded by Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) from Shepherd Drive to the Port of Houston Turning Basin.

This new quarterly e-newsletter is designed to update you on the incredible progress being made not only along the bayou’s west sector, but in downtown and the East End. We will also be highlighting the ever-growing nationwide interest and press that Buffalo Bayou is receiving. Word is getting out that Houston not only has a prosperous economy but an ever-improving quality of life.

As Houston continues its trajectory to become one of the country’s most dynamic urban regions, Buffalo Bayou will play an increasingly important role in the social and economic life of our city.

Without a doubt, we are all Banking on Buffalo Bayou!

With our thanks and best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving,

Anne Olson                                         Sis Johnson
President                                            Board Chair
Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street

Buffalo Bayou Park

Each and every day Buffalo Bayou Park is being transformed before our eyes. Awe-inspiring amenities and enhancements have been completed and more are “in the works.”
Sabine Street to US-59

While Houstonians eagerly await Buffalo Bayou Park’s completion, bayou visitors are equally excited about BBP’s redevelopment work in downtown.


Construction of a vital trail link between Smith and Milam streets is well underway. Funded through the highly competitive federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, the $4.6 million trail is part of a $30 million project providing trails along White Oak Bayou and on-street connections in the East End. BBP is partnering with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Parks Board and Greater East End Management District to provide the $4 million in local matching dollars and an additional $15 million to make the overall project possible.  BBP contributed $1 million which was generously donated by a BBP board member.

Sunset Coffee Building

Houston’s most historic site, Allen’s Landing continues to get a facelift with restoration of the Sunset Coffee Building. BBP is partnering with Houston First, a local government corporation that oversees the city’s convention and cultural facilities, to transform the building into a major bayou and downtown destination. A host of activities are planned for the 12,000 square-foot facility, including a boating/biking concession, a rooftop terrace, exhibition space, and BBP’s administrative offices.  Opening festivities are scheduled for April 2015.
US-59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin

Livable Centers Study
A young Fifth Ward resident gives his input at one of the three Livable Centers community meetings held in September.
Much of the success of BBP’s revitalization work in Buffalo Bayou Park and downtown lies in years of detailed planning and extensive fundraising. With improvements nearly complete, the organization is looking east along the bayou and is poised to make a comparable level of investment.

Unlike BBP’s current work which focuses on publicly-owned property, East End revitalization will take place through a concerted and thoughtful effort working with private property owners. 

With partners, the Fifth Ward Redevelopment Corporation and Greater East End Management District, BBP has initiated a $230,000 Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Livable Centers Study, a planning initiative designed to create walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, multi-modal transportation choices and private investment leveraged with public improvements. A major focus of the planning effort will be identifying Fifth Ward and East End connections to the bayou where BBP owns considerable property.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership hopes that the Livable Centers study will serve as a prototype for a future master plan that focuses on the bayou’s entire East Sector – from US-59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin.
For more information about the Livable Centers Study, please visit the project's Facebook page.
Buffalo Bend Nature Park

Tucked away far in the East End at the Port of Houston Turning Basin is Buffalo Bend Nature Park, a beautiful bayou site and future trailhead. Existing improvements include three storm water filtration ponds, a natural grass amphitheater and native wetland plantings. The park has been actively used by BBP volunteer groups for more than a decade.

With a $500,000 Texas Parks & Wildlife grant and matching funds raised by BBP, the following enhancements are planned: boardwalk, learning station, trails and interpretive signage. Construction is slated for the first quarter of 2015. BBP has already acquired an adjacent property and is working on securing another trail easement with the goal of connecting 23 acres of open space from the County’s Buffalo Bend Nature Park to the City’s Hidalgo Park.

BBP/Houston Housing Authority Partnership

A continuous trail from Buffalo Bayou Park to the Port of Houston Turning Basin is BBP’s ultimate goal. To make this vision a reality, over the past 15 years easements have been secured from more than 20 private and public private property owners. We are pleased to announce that an important trail easement was recently purchased by BBP from the Houston Housing Authority at the agency’s Clayton Homes site just east of U.S. 59 near downtown.

BBP is working with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on a planned trail and pedestrian bridge at this site.
  • Earlier this year, BBP was one of a select group of 40 private and public entities invited to take part in an Urban Land Institute (ULI) forum Transformational Urban Open Space. The invitation-only event focused on the value of open space as a means of leveraging economic development and revitalization, as well as improving the quality of life for growing urban populations. Buffalo Bayou Park consultant, Guy Hagstette, traveled to Detroit to be part of a panel discussion called Making Successful Urban Open Space Happen. Other panelists highlighted Yards Park in Washington, D.C. and Toronto waterfront parks. A publication which will feature principles developed at the forum and lessons learned from the featured projects will be published in summer 2015.
  • Guy Hagstette also highlighted Buffalo Bayou Park in a recent tour with Mike Boots, Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and at a spring press conference with Gina McCarthy, Director of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Anne Olson (left), Joe Turner (center) and Mark Ross (right) meet with delegates from Moscow's Department of Culture.
  • In October, BBP President Anne Olson, Houston Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Turner and Deputy Director Facilities Management & Development Mark Ross spoke with a delegation from Moscow’s Department of Culture about Houston's green spaces, including Buffalo Bayou parks and trails. The "meet and greet" was sponsored by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of International Trade and Development.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership is the non-profit organization revitalizing and transforming Buffalo Bayou, Houston’s most significant natural resource.

Anne Olson
, President

Sis Johnson, Board Chair
In the News

Buffalo Bayou Park is a featured case study of The Intersector Project. It profiles the history of the project’s development and fundraising, collaborative partnerships, and BBP's cross-sector collaboration philosophy.

The story of Buffalo Bayou’s revitalization is included in the book, Reclaiming American Cities: The Struggle for People, Place and Nature Since 1900 by Rutherford H. Platt.

Both the Sunset Coffee Building project and Buffalo Bayou Park receive mention in the New York Times article,  "Transforming, but Not Disrupting."

Conde Nast Traveler highlights our city’s new emphasis on quality of life, mentioning Buffalo Bayou Park as well as Hermann Park and Discovery Green in "Is Houston the New 'It' City?"
Copyright © 2014 Buffalo Bayou Partnership, All rights reserved.

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