Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Houston: The Next Great World City?

A place with fewer than 300,000 people in 1930 is now a mega-region with a population nearing five million. The population of the metropolitan area itself, which did not even rank in the U.S. top 20 in 1940, is today the fourth largest in the country. The 2006 census estimate pegged Houston’s population at 2,144,491, only 700,000 behind third-place Chicago.

In 1960, Houston was the home of just one Fortune 500 company; as of 2007, the area has 23. An indicator of Houston’s international reach: it now ranks third among U.S. cities, behind Los Angeles and New York, in the number of consulates located there. And the city is well positioned to benefit from its important place in the energy industry, a sector of the global economy that is only going to grow in strategic importance in the early 21st century.

more here.

Another reason for Houston's growth and potential?

Houston is the freest major city in America, with no zoning and only moderate government intrusions into how property owners use their land. This freedom has made Houston the most affordable major city in America, with housing costs that are less than half of most other major urban areas. This freedom has also created an innovative and growth-friendly environment that is creating tens of thousands of new jobs each year.

Update: The chart above shows employment in Houston vs. the U.S. from 2000-2007. Overall employment increased in Houston during this period by more than 16%, compared to an increase in employment nationally of only about 5.5%.


At 3/20/2008 2:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lack of zoning makes a space filling subject on a slow day.

Houston's Twilight Zone:
Projects Rise in Odd Spots

Plans to build a 23-story condominium tower among the million-dollar homes of two stately neighborhoods here has appalled affluent residents and put local politicians in the hot seat.

Rowdy cantinas, rock-crushing operations and commercial dumps sometimes pop up in residential neighborhoods. Condo towers sprout next to schools. A pay-by-the-hour motel operates less than a block from a Baptist church.

Honestly Mark does that sound like a great world city?

Have you ever been to Houston?

Do you know what the crime rate is like there? Compared to the rest of the US it is about 2X as bad overall.

At 3/20/2008 6:08 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Oh dear! Someone doesn't like the idea that there isn't a socialist, central government planning for the city of Houston...ROFLMAO!

At 3/20/2008 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I have been to Houston many times over many years as I have relatives that live there. Being an old man I have witnessed it rise from a smallish "blue law" city to, in my opinion, a great world city.

I suspect that you and your ilk know exactly just how far away "rowdy cantinas," condo towers, and by the hour motels should be away from Baptist Churches and residential neighborhoods. (If you would allow it at all.) You do know what is best for me right? I am sure you could offer a list of the criteria of a world class city. Would you have different criteria for Catholic churches? There are a lot of Cajun Catholics in Houston who tend to enjoy rowdy cantinas and think a gift certificate to a by the hour motel is just the thing on Valentines Day. (Yeah they are tacky, but tacky can be fun.)

People get appalled all the time and they resolve their differences at city council meetings, let the wealthy residents, politicians, and the developers sort it out: It’s called freedom, democracy, and Houston, a great city.

At 3/20/2008 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine that Houston's crime rate has something to do with the influx of refugees from New Orleans as well as its proximity to a third world country.

At 3/20/2008 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all the morons that think no zoning laws = paradise tell me why property values are so low in Houston compared to other great world cities?

Which moron among ye would desire to have his residential neighbors replaced by a rock crushing operation and a commercial dump? Who wants a Cantina to locate next to their sons or daughters bedrooms? What would that do for your property value?

juandos I'm sure that many people in Houston are glad for some government like the part that takes care of the sewers. But you are probably glad that there isn't too much enforcement of immigration law because there are 400,000 or so illegal aliens living in Houston.

To the old man that has witnessed Houston grow into what it is today I say so what? There are many cities world wide that have seen growth in population. Take Santa Clara County, California for example...about the time you were a kid it was all agricultural and filled with orchards and had a low population. Now it is more commonly refered to as Silicon Valley and is home to a number of cities known around the world. As far as law goes I know someone who as a kid witnessed the last lynching in San Jose--so law enforcement has grown up in Silicon Valley too. So what?

One of Houston's distinguishing characteristics is Harris County's 11 Superfund sites. A Superfund site is a toxic waste dump so malignant that the Environmental Protection Agency has made its cleanup a national priority. The most any other county in Texas can boast is three sites.

Thank God for no zoning.

At 3/20/2008 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't the no zoning that is the main contributor to growth in Houston, it's the oil boom (10 x price change in about 10 years).

Remember the oil bust in Houston? Massive unemployment, massive job losses, massive foreclosures, basically a regional depression.

At 3/21/2008 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've lived here since 1970 and I've found Houston to be a great place to live and raise a family.
The comments about the problems are probably posted by people who don't live here.
As far as the "oil boom" being the reason the city has grown, that is completely wrong. The city has grown because it's great place to live.
I lived through the oil boom of the 80's and the influx of people never really slowed down when the price fell out of bed, like it will this time. Oil booms and busts are part of the oil industry.
Houston has all the amenities of any major city at a fraction of the cost to live here.
There are no "natural" barriers to Houston's continued growth. It will one day be bigger than the fourth largest.
It has a warm water port and in a global community it's almost in the center of the Western Hemisphere. That's significant if you do business in North and South America.
Houston was founded by the Allen bothers, real estate developers and some of the famous early big shots where oil wild catters. The result being there is a "can do" attitude amoung many of the people here.
The only way you can find a Houston "Super Fund" site is by looking it up on the web, you can't tell by looking at the surrounding landscape. It's on the edge of the "Piney Woods" of East Texas and it's beautiful if you like trees.
Don't listen to the nay sayers, their just jealous.

At 3/23/2008 7:22 PM, Blogger Bezzle said...

> A pay-by-the-hour motel operates
> less than a block from a Baptist church.

Somehow, that seems perfectly appropriate to me.


Houston's only real future problem going forward (other than general government meddling) is the cat-5 hurricane in its future that'll gut every skyscraper and throw the trash all over town.

At 3/27/2008 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Houston and I don't know what you're talking about. The 23-story "Tower of Traffic" is being opposed by local residents and will be scaled back....mark my words. I lived in Chicago before moving to Houston and I can attest first hand how people like Tony Rezko got away with basically anyhting they wanted to do despite city zoning.

At 3/27/2008 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kotkin did a good job but he failed to mention the Texas Med Center, which is home to some of the best hospitals and medical innovation in the world.

At 3/27/2008 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the clown who was trashing Houston RE market: My house appreciated 10% last year for the second year in a row and two home in my neighborhood (Woodland Heights) sold in less than a week at the asking price. How did your rat-infested shoebox do this past year?

At 3/27/2008 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and regarding your claim about crime...during the Rita evacuation two weeks after Katrina about half the city evacuated and we had only 6 arrests city-wide for looting. The reason, IMHO, is conceal carry permits and the Castle Doctrine. Don't mess with Texas, y'all!

At 2/11/2010 6:40 PM, Anonymous Carl said...

Personally, Houston has been a great move for my family and my business. With the affordability of commercial real estate, as well as residential real estate, I feel like I've made some solid investments.


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