Saturday, May 1, 2010

Question for Matt (and Others)...

Keeping on track with the Seoul-focus of my posts, one thing I noticed today is that they have an extensive underground shopping mall system.  I know that Houston and other places (such as the D.C. area) also have large chunks of commercial use buried underground.

My question is this:  how does the zoning work for that?  Is the surface zoning for a parcel distinct from the subsurface zoning?

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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Chad, thanks for the Korea posts--great stuff!

Now being a Houstonian, I can't answer your strange question about this mysterious thing you call "zoning." But here in Houston we do have an extensive tunnel system in the CBD. It allows you to go from building to building or to eat lunch underground without breaking a sweat. Since summer heat can be quite oppressive here on the Gulf Coast, especially for those in business attire, it makes some sense to have the tunnels.

That being said, I wish they would fill them in, because the effect of the tunnels has been to obliterate the street life downtown. There are few restaurants and fewer shops on the street level, where you would want to see people walking around. The tunnel businesses close by 5, and there is very little on the street worth walking around for.

Some new developments have started to bring the streets back a little bit, but there is a ways to go before Houston can be thought of as a walkable city, and the tunnels do not help.

Posted by: Matt Festa | May 3, 2010 10:39:32 PM