August 8, 2004

Downtown Making Gains Over Mall-Centered District in Houston

"In the battle of downtowns, the original is scoring a comeback victory over the upstart in Texas' biggest city," the Dallas Morning News reports from Houston. "In the 1970s and early '80s, it appeared that downtown was fading and that the West Loop area around the high-end shopping center the Galleria might become the new city center."

Today, though, the Galleria business district known as Uptown "has seen its office market stall," the article says; new construction seems to be primarily residential, and the area is turning into a mix of luxury residential and high-end retail.

"Meanwhile, the original downtown has undergone a multibillion-dollar revival in the last 10 years, adding stadiums, rail transit, hotels, clubs and residences, and an after-hours life. It's quite a change for a place that once emptied at 5 p.m.

"And it's pedestrian friendly; Uptown still depends on cars."

Downtown Framingham isn't likely to get either a multibillion-dollar renovation or a sports stadium. However, as the town looks to revitalize the South Side traditional business district, just as the Natick Mall is adding residences to what's likely to be upper-end retail, the Houston model is one worth noting. Downtown CAN complement Rte. 9 by becoming a pedestrian-friendly center with appealing, multi-ethnic offerings for residents and visitors alike.

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