Our love affair with the automobile has driven development to the suburb for cheaper land and lower-cost housing (because city land builds up and is more expensive). Empty nesters and baby boomers are trying live closer to arts and recreation and moving back into the urban Houston. Houston’s CityCentre is one mixed-use development that is quite pretty and a good way to consolidate many functions into one Utopian living environment. There is no zoning in Houston.
Most people are under the false perception that higher density developments create more regional traffic and parking problems than lower density developments. The fact is that higher density development generates less traffic by making walking and public transit more feasible and creating more shared parking. Ironically, sprawl also increases vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per household, negating the perceived lower cost of housing (which is the reason people moved to the suburbs in the first place). More importantly, the long term infrastructure cost of maintaining our freeways, MUD districts, sewer, water, electric service, police, fire protection and EMS is unsustainable.
Houston is one of many cities that has begun to adopt the idea of a micro-village: a living complex that serves a multitude of functions and has a strong sense of place. It fulfills all of the necessary daily needs of its residents and promotes foot traffic. It is essentially a high-density mixed use development on a scale of six to seven stories tall, with a focus on revitalizing life through aesthetics, art, and quality of living. The CityCentre, along with other recent developments in Houston, show the emergent nature of the micro-village.
(Resource: “Back to the City: Houston”, houston.culturemap.com)