Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nanomedicine, zoo, TOD, regional transit, Astrodome, and more

Another wave of smaller items to pass along:
  • A great idea from neoHouston: to limit land speculation that jacks up prices and prevents development near rail lines, raise appraisals - and therefore property taxes - to match asking prices. He gives an example of a $5m appraised property selling (or, to be more accurate, not selling) for $15m. Raise the appraisal and the taxes, and they will lower their asking prices and have an incentive to sell or develop sooner. My own idea: should we consider modestly higher property tax rates on undeveloped or idle properties to encourage getting them to a productive use sooner rather than later?
  • Joel Kotkin on "The Blue-State Meltdown and the Collapse of the Chicago Model"(i.e. patronage, machine politics, corruption). Despite blue state control of the federal government, they are also suffering the most in this recession. What does that say about their high tax, high regulation, pro-union model?
  • Houston ranked as a top 10 zoo for kids. Hat tip to HAIF.
  • Nature has an article on nanomedicine that features Houston: (hat tip to Justin)

"Mauro Ferrari is on a mission to make Houston a major hub for nanomedicine. Housed at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Ferrari's lab will become the Department of Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering in September. According to Ferrari, it will be the first nanomedicine department at a US medical school. The nanomedicine professor, whose team is developing nanosized diagnostic devices to treat cancer and cardiovascular disease, is in an enviable position, especially given the current economic climate. Ferrari plans to recruit another 30 researchers to complete his 100-member academic research team, and he has co-founded two companies. NanoMedical Systems, in Austin, Texas, is developing a nanomaterial-based drug-delivery system, and Leonardo Biosystems in Houston is researching nanotechnology-based cancer therapeutics.

Houston is already well known for its prowess in the nanoscopic field. The city was home to the 1985 discovery of spherical carbon-based fullerenes known as 'buckyballs'. That work was later awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Yet so far, nanotech advances have been more incremental than monumental. This could be set to change as research funds start to flow, nanomedicines head to clinical trials and entrepreneurial academics aim to incorporate nanomedicine into mainstream medical care."

  • A discussion panel video on Houston regional transit, including transit guru Christof Spieler.
  • A pass-along for those of you interested in the future of the Astrodome:
"Hi, my name is Aaron Carpenter and next Thursday (8/6/09) I will be moderating a discussion at Cite Magazine's blog,, entitled "The Astrodome --- What Can Be Done?." We are hoping to have a serious and thoughtful, yet lively dialogue about the future of the Astrodome. Former Chronicle reporter Madeleine Hamm and UH Professor of Architecture Bruce Webb will open the comments. This post will OffCite's first post open to comments. If you could help us get the word out, or comment yourself, it would be greatly appreciated. We hope it will be a constructive, open-minded discussion and the more people we can get involved, the better."
I have 12 items, but this post is pretty long after only 6, so we'll save the rest for next week. Have a great weekend.

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At 3:15 PM, July 30, 2009, Anonymous kjb434 said...

The NeoHouston proposal is probably the most I would want HCAD delving into the real estate market, but if someone is going to ask way far north of the HCAD valued price then by all mean make them feel that asking price!

You would see those vacant midtown properties drop extremely fast!

At 10:22 PM, August 02, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed in that METRO Documentary that a woman said that METRO plans are to convert HOV lanes to rail once ridership warrants it. I never knew that. Guess that will be a long time, and I wonder how they plan to replace HOV. Will they simply "replace" it with rail?

At 8:08 AM, August 03, 2009, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

That will be a long time in coming. Depends on the corridor. If an alternate rail RoW is available, they will use that. But I believe they requested the new 10W HOV to be reinforced for potential rail conversion in the future.


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