Downtown Houston is Listening

How does one begin to understand how people experience a neighborhood or community? Ask questions— trust that people will answer.

Plan Downtown kicks off its public engagement phase with the launch of an interactive online tool that encourages anyone who visits Houston’s city center to give feedback about his or her experience. The digital survey, My Downtown, seeks to understand the lifestyle patterns of all types of people who visit the city. Designed by Boston-based design firm Sasaki, My Downtown leads users through guided mapping activities to understand key destinations (where people spend time in Downtown for nightlife, dining, arts, recreation, events and shopping) as well as transportation habits (where they park, walk, drive, take transit and bike).

“The idea comes from the concepts of itineraries and personas,” Sasaki Associate Brad Barnett says. “What does ‘a day in the life’ in Downtown Houston look like?”

As the data is collected, the information will be used to map habits and patterns. Are there common corridors that need more infrastructure support? How do drivers and cyclists enter Downtown? Where do people spend their time? Which areas already see heavy use, and which are brimming with potential? What can Plan Downtown address to better support all these activities?

While there isn’t a magic number of people who respond, what the Plan Downtown team hopes for is a range of responses from people who experience Downtown Houston in different ways. That includes current residents whether they work Downtown or elsewhere, commuters who work Downtown, guests who visit often or occasionally for leisure activities or out-of-town guests who attend professional conferences or sporting events.

How do you experience Downtown Houston? Tell us by using My Downtown.

What’s Next Downtown?

Once an underutilized, work-driven central core that had seen its better days, Downtown has again become the heartbeat of the Bayou City and the region. Buzzing with development of all kinds— new hotels, restaurant rows, luxury residential projects and convenient public transportation options — the city center didn’t get to where it is today by happenstance.

“Thirteen years have gone by since Downtown’s last comprehensive plan, and we’re made tremendous progress since then,” said Bob Eury, Executive Director of the Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District). “Now it’s time for us to take a fresh look at what lies ahead and prepare for the future. Can Houston adapt to driverless cars, a sharing economy, collaborative work environments and work-life integration? How can we better prepare Downtown Houston for the next few decades?”

With that in mind, the Downtown District has launched Plan Downtown, a 20-year vision plan that will outline recommendations for short, middle and long-range planning, development and design within and around Downtown.

While Downtown has established itself as a destination for working, living and recreation, Plan Downtown will recommend how it can continue to be a relevant and welcoming gathering place for all Houstonians.
Throughout the spring and early summer, the project team will lead a series of leadership group meetings, planning stakeholder workshops, topical small group discussions and public workshops. In addition, the public will be invited to participate in planning efforts by website and text-based visioning exercises.
Mark your calendars for the first public meetings scheduled for April 12.