Banking on Buffalo Bayou | Summer 2015

Dear Friends:
More than 3,000 real estate professionals from throughout the world traveled to Houston in May for the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) spring conference, a two-day series of meetings, panel discussions, keynote talks and networking opportunities. It was the first time in two decades that the organization, devoted to development and land use, held a conference in Houston. In this issue of Banking on Buffalo Bayou, we highlight how Buffalo Bayou and Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) played a prominent role in welcoming ULI members to Houston and helped in showcasing our city’s quality of life, “can do” spirit, and generous philanthropic community. We were honored that several BBP board members had prominent leadership roles in the ULI event – Jonathan Brinsden who served as conference co-chair, Tom Fish who planned tours as a member of the Host Committee, and Carleton Riser who is this year’s ULI Houston chair.

As we look forward to the cooler days of fall, we are preparing for the completion of Buffalo Bayou Park, the historic Sunset Coffee Building at Allen’s Landing, an important downtown trail link, and the East End’s Buffalo Bend Nature Park. These capital projects, totaling more than $70 million, have been years in the making. To celebrate the milestones, we are planning special events, tours and talks that you won’t want to miss. But that’s not all. By year’s end we hope to initiate a planning study for the bayou’s east sector and be well on our way to designing still another downtown trail connection.

It is an exciting time for Buffalo Bayou and more excitement lies ahead!


Collin Cox                                        Anne Olson
Board Chair                                     President

Rich Kinder Kicks Off ULI Conference

Richard Kinder and William Fulton during ULI's spring conference opening session.
At the ULI’s spring conference opening session, Rich Kinder, Executive Chairman of Houston’s energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan, shared his thoughts and perspectives on business resilience, the state of today’s energy environment, and the role that philanthropy plays in the economic health of urban areas.
In a wide-ranging interview with William Fulton, executive director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Kinder described his and wife Nancy’s approach to philanthropy and the Kinder Foundation. He pointed out that they identify “transformative” projects that would not be made possible without their catalytic support. 
“Our philanthropic investments represent a rifle shot not a shotgun approach,” explained Kinder. Focusing the majority of their philanthropy in Houston, Kinder said that urban greenspace, education and quality of life are their foundation’s key target areas.
In highlighting the Kinder Foundation’s unprecedented gifts to Discovery Green, Buffalo Bayou Park and the Bayou Greenways Initiative, Kinder noted, “Every project needs to be sustainable and stand on its own two feet.” 
He added that projects will achieve lasting impact through long-term commitments from the public sector. Citing the $2 million in tax increment financing that funds Buffalo Bayou Park’s maintenance and operations, the energy leader said, “It’s glamorous to put together a project, but more important is this: two years from now, are people just as pleased as they were on day one?”
Click here to watch Kinder’s ULI talk.

ULI Attendees Bike and Boat Along
Buffalo Bayou

One of the goals of local organizers during the ULI spring conference was to dispel misconceptions that people have of Houston. To show off the city’s urban revitalization efforts, infrastructure improvements and economic diversification, conference attendees visited sites like downtown high rises near Discovery Green, ventured to the East End along the new light rail line, and toured mixed-use developments like CityCentre and the planned River Oaks District.
To showcase the city’s urban livability and quality of life, BBP board vice chair and ULI member Tom Fish and BBP’s immediate past chair Sis Johnson led a bike tour of Buffalo Bayou traveling to Allen’s Landing, Sesquicentennial Park, Sabine Promenade and Buffalo Bayou Park. Another group of conference attendees hopped aboard BBP’s Spirt of the Bayou to get an entirely different perspective of the waterway and downtown skyline. If you are interested in taking a Buffalo Bayou boat tour, click here.

Guy Hagstette, BBP and Kinder Foundation consultant, was a featured speaker on the ULI spring conference tour, “Something Big is Up Downtown.” As conference goers circled Buffalo Bayou Park by bus, Guy pointed out the park’s major destinations and amenities. A stop at Lost Lake at Allen Parkway and Dunlavy provided an up close look at one of the most beautiful spots in the park.

Panel Discussions Highlight BBP’s Work at ULI Conference

ULI’s “Product Councils” provide a forum for the exchange of information and sharing of “best practices” in the development field. Throughout the two-day conference, more than 30 Product Councils met to discuss topics ranging from mixed-use development to building healthy communities to real estate financing. 
BBP President Anne Olson highlighted the organization’s planning efforts, capital projects, and park maintenance program during three Product Council meetings. At two Public-Private Council meetings, Anne and Houston Parks Board Executive Director Roksan Okan-Vick focused on hike and bike trail development with special emphasis on how projects are funded through unique public-private partnerships. Anne also served as a Public Development & Infrastructure Council panelist with Angie Bertinot, director of communications at the Houston Downtown Management District, and Susanne Theis, programming director at Discovery Green, where each explained the varied administrative structures, programming and public art activities of Market Square Park, Discovery Green and Buffalo Bayou Park.

Checking-In on BBP’s Projects

Lost Lake Visitor Center and The Dunlavy at Buffalo Bayou Park
The TIGER Trail in downtown
Historic Sunset Coffee Building at Allen’s Landing
East End’s Buffalo Bend Nature Park
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

“The Bayou City: Reclaiming Houston’s Signature Waterways” was a six-page feature story in Urban Land, the ULI magazine. Written as part of the publication’s preview of the Houston spring conference, writer Jeff Spivak highlighted Buffalo Bayou Park and the Bayou Greenways Initiative stating that “Houston is creating a 21st-century amenity for one of the 21st century’s dominant real estate trends – urban living.” Another observation in the article came from Adrian Benepe, director of city park development for the Trust for Public Land, the national non-profit devoted to increasing and improving urban park space. Benepe pointed out that Houston is very much in the lead with the national trend of restoring urban rivers. Said Benepe: “Houston’s projects are so large-scale and ambitious that you can only compare them to the planning in the 19th century, when cities first established their park systems.”
Buffalo Bayou Partnership is one of 41 park conservancies included in the Trust for Public Land’s report Public Spaces/Private Money: The Triumphs and Pitfalls of Urban Park Conservancies. The report cites the benefits as well as the disadvantages of the private non-profit organizations that “utilize donations to rebuild, refurbish, and even maintain some of the country’s most iconic parks.” In addition to case studies, Public Spaces/Private Money ranks conservancies by spending, revenue and earned income. Along with BBP, other Houston organizations listed in the report are Discovery Green Conservancy, Hermann Park Conservancy and Memorial Park Conservancy.
Buffalo Bayou’s restoration and rebirth were highlighted in the June 2015 issue of Dwell magazine. In a Q&A, SWA landscape architect Kevin Shanley was interviewed about Buffalo Bayou Park and its applicability to other urban waterways. See “Landscape Architect Kevin Shanley Wants to Reconnect Cities with Their Waterways.”
USA Today and a distinguished panel of travel writers and outdoor enthusiasts recently nominated 20 trail systems located near major US cities as nominees for “Best Urban Trail.” Competing in the “10Best Reader’s Choice” contest, Buffalo Bayou Park ranked fourth in a field that included Lakefront Trail (Chicago), Rose Kennedy Greenway (Boston), and the River Walk and Mission Trail (San Antonio.)
As reported by the Houston Business Journal, Broadstone Tinsley Park is the latest residential project slated for construction near Buffalo Bayou Park—“Multifamily projects blossom near Buffalo Bayou Park.” The four-story, 365-unit apartment complex will be built on 4.5 acres at Gillette and West Dallas, just south of Allen Parkway. The project is a joint venture of Alliance Residential Co. and The Carlyle Group. Construction is expected to take two years. See the Spring 2015 issue of Banking on Buffalo Bayou to learn more about the impact Buffalo Bayou Park is having on residential and commercial development in nearby neighborhoods.

Read Past Issues

Spring 2015
Fall 2014
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