St. Louis Land Bank Assessment

The St. Louis Land Reutiization Authority (LRA) was founded in 1971, making it the oldest land bank in the country, and holds approximately 12,000 vacant properties, 75% vacant lots and 25% vacant structures. Asakura Robinson was engaged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an assessment and make recommendations for process improvements based on a deep understanding of LRA operations and research on national best practices.  The study identified four key themes developed through research and interviews with over 80 local stakeholders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors: the need for the LRA to adopt national best practices;...
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Westbury Community Garden Master Plan

Founded seven years ago in the Westbury area of southwest Houston, Westbury Community Garden (WCG) has become, in almost every measurable way, a model for community-initiated and community-led parks and open spaces. The Westbury Community Garden Master Plan, completed in 2016, is an effort to both take stock of this place as it exists today and provide site planning recommendations to guide the future of this highly valued community resource. While it is customary for institutions to plan for their future, this master planning effort began from everyday needs. As long as it has been the Westbury Community Garden, this 7-acre...
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HousingNOLA – Implementation Strategies

Asakura Robinson worked with HousingNOLA and the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance to move forward several key Implementation steps of the HousingNOLA 10-Year Strategy and implementation Plan. The context for the HousingNOLA effort, and for these projects, is a rapid increase in housing costs in post-Katrina New Orleans that has left many low-income and middle-income residents paying more than they can afford, and often being pushed further from job centers and services in the city and region. Part 1: Transit-Oriented Development Areas and Regulatory Framework. Our work included a memo documenting opportunity areas for establishing transit-oriented development regulations and design...
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Designing for Impact: A Regional Guide to Low Impact Development

The robust growth projected for the Houston-Galveston region is forecasted to lead to the addition of approximately 500 square miles of developed area, including an estimated 6 million parking spaces, 780 million square feet of non-residential uses, and 3.5 billion square feet of residential use. This impervious surface area has the potential to increase stormwater runoff volumes and associated pollutant loadings into local waterways, Galveston Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. Low Impact Development (LID) provides an opportunity to explore a sustainable way to accommodate future development and manage stormwater. The purpose of H-GAC’s Designing for Impact: Regional Guide to...
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Magnolia Transit Center

The METRO Green Line extension presents an opportunity to re-envision the Magnolia Transit Center as a multi-modal hub improving connectivity between bus, rail and bicycle networks. The key spatial element of the design is a new central plaza that acts as a highly visible, central gathering and connecting space to facilitate the flow of passengers between modes. Pedestrians are guided throughout the facility with key visual connections that incorporate Greater East End Management District branding using stamped concrete patterns. Increased tree coverage along the walkways offer shade and an enhanced experience, and additional space is available for public art and wayfinding signage to assist in the visual ties between train and bus platforms. The additional tree...
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Houston Bike Plan

The City of Houston and its region have made great strides in supporting the growing number of people bicycling, but without some organization and a coordinating framework the efforts risk being disconnected or missing opportunities to complement each other in ways that maximize the return on the investments. 1993 was the last time the City adopted a Comprehensive Bicycle Plan and the City and region have changed significantly in the twenty-three years since. The 2015-2016 Houston Bike Plan is a year-long planning effort developed with the Houston community and many partners. The plan sets out a clear Vision to be...
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Creating Career Pathways in Coastal Restoration

This workforce development research project for Oxfam America and Limitless Vistas, Inc. identified opportunities to assist residents of vulnerable coastal communities and low-to-middle-income coastal workers to gain the skills necessary to meet employers’ needs for new middle-skill technician workers who can assist in executing restoration and conservation projects. Middle-skill jobs require more specialized training than a high school diploma can provide, but do not require a full four-year college degree. Given the increasing level of funding currently flowing to the Gulf Coast region for coastal restoration projects, understanding whether new credentials could assist vulnerable residents in quickly gaining the technical...
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South Central Waterfront Vision Framework Plan

Austin’s South Central Waterfront (SCW) is bound for change. In fact, change is rapidly underway. The South Central Waterfront Vision Framework Plan is a roadmap for how the coming change can be guided to create the best possible outcome for all Austinites. The SCW strives to be a model for how a district-wide green infrastructure system paired with quality urban design and an interconnected network of public spaces, streets, lakeside trails and parks can provide a framework for redevelopment. A district approach can also coordinate public and private investments to leverage maximum impact and provide for district-wide value capture to...
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Vacant Lot Toolkit

One of the legacies of Pittsburgh’s economic shift is a large amount and wide variety of vacant and distressed property. The reversion and accumulation of properties coming under public responsibility has placed an enormous burden on the City while contributing no taxes to pay for public services. The estimated cost of maintaining these properties in 2011 totaled $20,457,155. Through the City’s Open Space Plan, it was determined that the City find suitable uses for these lands. Asakura Robinson was engaged by the Department of City planning to review the existing programs and policies relating to vacant land disposition, develop policy recommendations...
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Southern Downtown/ CBD Public Realm Plan

Downtown Houston is increasingly a stage for a diverse range of urban activities at all times of the day, rather than simply a destination for working commuters. With the expansion of the public transit system, people from surrounding neighborhoods will have improved access to Downtown jobs, retail, entertainment, and recreational amenities. Substantial amounts of new residential development in Downtown Houston – catalyzed by the Downtown Living Initiative – will create a growing need for amenities that have not typically been provided in the area. However, from on the ground observations and conversations with stakeholders, it is equally clear that the...
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METRO Bike & Ride Access and Implementation Plan

Bicycle connections to transit service are a growing component of the METRO transit system ridership.The overall growth of cycling and expansion of bicycle infrastructure in the METRO Service Area means developing strategies and recommendations to improve the integration between cycling and transit is critical to continued growth and expanding ridership for METRO. To support METRO in improving bicycle access to the transit system, the METRO Bike and Ride Access and Implementation Plan studied existing system users, key factors driving users to access transit by bicycle, current barriers to access, and developed recommendations that capitalize on opportunities to improve access to...
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Washington Avenue Livable Centers Study

The Washington Avenue corridor is truly one of Houston’s most unique places; one that we’re happy to call home. The corridor has experienced significant growth, benefiting from a large influx of new residents, businesses, restaurants and bars, and artists, but has also felt stresses to the area’s transportation and open space networks and housing affordability. The Houston-Galveston Area Council, in partnership with Better Houston, the City of Houston and TIRZ 15, is conducting a Livable Centers study of Houston’s historic Washington Avenue Corridor, bounded by I-45 on the east, I-10 on the north, Westcott Street on the west and Buffalo Bayou...
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Willow Waterhole Access Plan

As part of Harris County Flood Control District’s restoration of a native prairie at the Willow Waterhole Stormwater Detention Facility, Asakura Robinson developed a Public Access Plan for the Prairie Management Area. Starting from the goal that the prairie should not only be well integrated with the adjacent basin park area, but also with the surrounding community, AR’s work was as much about crafting a plan as building consensus and support for the prairie among a diverse group of community stakeholders. To do this, ARC organized a series of public meetings in collaboration with HCFCD, led discussions of the opportunities...
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Gannoway Lake Park Phase II – Sugar Land, Texas

After producing a Masterplan in 2009 for a nature park at Sugar Land’s Gannoway Lake, Asakura Robinson was contracted again by the City of Sugar Land to prepare a more focused study of the challenges to address in developing the park. A complicated urban site framed by roadways, residential development, a local high school, a new water treatment facility and extensive planned mixed-use development, Gannoway Lake is also an extremely unique ecological asset to the area and the potential lynchpin of an expansive greenway along Oyster Creek. To complete the feasibility study, ARC worked with consulting engineers from Walter P....
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The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country Master Plan

The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country is a regional resource for fostering awareness of the unique natural and cultural history of the Canyon Lake area, education through collection, preservation, interpretation and display. The purpose of the Master Plan is to create a physical framework for the programs and operations of the museum. It is important to identify the location of the proposed facilities to optimize usage of the available level areas because the terrain of the site is generally steeply sloping. Recommendations include an expansion of programs that will attract visitors across the region, a site plan for museum facilities, and environmental and landscape features. By broadening and tailoring the...
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Sawyer Street Vision Plan

The Sawyer Street corridor, in the First and Sixth Wards in Houston, connects Memorial Drive and Buffalo Bayou Park with IH-10 and the MKT Hike and Bike Trail. The corridor changes character significantly, including both a historic residential district and a quickly changing industrial area.  The area is notable for its historic urban fabric, which is experiencing rapid change and increasing market pressure due to its proximity to Downtown Houston and the increasingly desirable Market Square area.Following on the recommendations of the Washington Avenue Livable Center Plan, Asakura Robinson, along with Traffic Engineers, Inc., developed a new complete streets plan...
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North Main Street Rebirth

Born out of a desire to help an underserved community take a plan off the shelf and move towards lasting community change, this neighborhood revitalization project sought to build community capacity to implement some of the recommendations of the community’s Livable Centers plan. Working with the Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC), we worked with local stakeholders in the historic commercial corridor along North Main Street to develop and implement a long term strategic plan. We developed a strategic plan that seeks to use cultural capital and vision of community instutitions to guide and encourage economic development through new commercial and residential development....
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Five Corners District Environmental Design Master Plan

This Environmental Design Master Plan presents strategies and recommendations to help the Five Corners District strengthen its identity as a beautiful, safe and attractive place to live, shop, work and invest in. The plan has been developed with the support of community members, business owners and other stakeholders, with the goal of envisioning how the district can best create an environment that builds on the district’s assets as well as anticipates, guides and encourages this future development. The plan includes concepts for new development, mobility, parks and open space, landscaping, and branding. Through engagement efforts, including community meetings, stakeholder workshops, and business surveys, a set...
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Fort Bend Subregional Plan

The communities of Fort Bend County have been one of the true success stories of the Houston region, and have built upon important investments in transportation infrastructure, high-quality housing, and proximity to the region’s top job centers and natural areas. To continue the trajectory of these strengths and successes, the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Subregional Planning Initiative is helping the cities of Fort Bend County to help develop a locally-conceived, jurisdiction-specific, long range plan which will strengthen and grow Fort Bend County as the premier location in Texas to live, connect, prosper, learn, and enjoy and excellent quality of life while preserving...
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FM 1092 Access Management Study

FM 1092 (also called Murphy Road) is the main north-south corridor within the City of Stafford, providing access to regional destinations through freeway and transit connections, including US-59/I-69 and the METRO West Bellfort Park & Ride. Asakura Robinson provided public involvement and streetscape design expertise for the FM 1092 Access Management Study, as well as document design. The project went beyond the scope of conventional access management studies to provide guidance on placemaking techniques, develop a vision, and inform how entities can play an integral role in transforming the quality of spaces along the corridor. Recommended streetscape design elements accommodate all...
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Upper Kirby Livable Centers Study

The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Livable Centers program provides opportunities for urban communities to focus on enhancing walkable, mixed-use places that provide multi-modal transportation options, improving environmental quality and promoting economic  development. Planning Studies apply program goals to a specified study area. Asakura Robinson Company worked with Van Meter Williams Pollack to provide pedestrian enhancement guidance to the Upper Kirby District consultant team. Implementable projects were identified within the district that connect area destinations by utilizing cross streets enhanced with a Complete Streets concept that cater to all users, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular. These projects provide multi-modal connectivity and promote a reduction of vehicle miles traveled. View project sheet here...
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Disaster Recovery Target Areas

In 2012, the City of Houston invited residents, businesses, and CDCs from four areas (9 Superneighborhoods) to identify “nodes of opportunity” within their communities.  This process was sparked by devastation from the 2008 Hurricane Ike that left many homes in a state of dilapidation and struggling communities in further disarray.  Four areas, Acres Homes, Independence Heights, Northside Village/Fifth Ward/Denver Harbor/Magnolia Park, and OST/South Union/Sunnyside/South Park will be receiving HUD funds ($151 million) to make home repairs and redevelop areas that will generate further investment, and ultimately move them towards a more vibrant community. Through a series of public workshops and...
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Clear Lake Pedestrian and Bicyclist Study

This Houston-Galveston Area Council funded plan sought to engage local residents and stakeholders in the Clear Lake area of Houston in providing a framework for improved bicycle and pedestrian connectivity in the district. Asakura Robinson Company was engaged to assist in the development of conceptual and implementation plans and to develop and lead public charrettes, which included leading bike rides and walks within the neighborhood. The project included a series of meetings with local stakeholders and residents to assess current conditions, concerns and needs which were the basis of our recommendations. Download the full report here. View project sheet here....
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