Ask any local about the best part of living in Houston, and answers invariably include the city’s incredible diversity, the world-class cultural offerings, the much-talked about ever-evolving restaurant landscape, unrivaled shopping options, cosmopolitan nightlife, and the endless green spaces that are transforming our beloved city into a bona fide urban oasis. Heck, even our long-debated no zoning laws are a source of some kind of upside down, reverse civic pride. But two responses you will undoubtedly not hear? Traffic and commute time. But what can you expect from a city whose surrounding areas echo the five boroughs of New York City?
Along with all the lifestyle improvements that have blossomed as the city has evolved into an international capital, the downside of progress means congested freeways, getting seemingly worse everyday, never-ending road construction and fender benders galore. But fear not, Houston. Just as hope for a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle in the Bayou City was starting to fade into the 5:00 traffic sunset, something funny happened on the way to the office. The long awaited movement to beautify and rectify downtown Houston started to take root after years of trying to turn our Central Houston Business District into more of a Central Business-Residence-Fun District.
When legendary multifamily developer Marvy Finger valiantly rolled the dice on downtown Houston with the opening of One Park Place in April 2009, it would be the first luxury high rise built in our urban core for decades. Around the same time, Discovery Green was transforming blocks of concrete parking lots into the greatest front lawn ever while new restaurants, entertainment venues, dog parks, and BCycles followed suit. And best of all, it proved once and for all that if you build it, people will indeed come.
Fast-forward 7 years, and Marvy is at it again with 500 Crawford – a luxury 7-story midrise opened in January directly across the street from Minute Maid Park. In addition to envelope-pushing amenities like the tricked out 6th Floor Resident Sports Lounge with its bird’s eye view into open-roofed Astros games, the property features two lush outdoor courtyards, a lounge pool, a heated lap pool, state-of-the-art outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas, a massive fitness center, a stunningly appointed Business Center and specially engineered walls, floors, windows and doors that render residences completely silent. Factor in two anticipated restaurants on the way by Celebrity Chef Bryan Caswell – a casual concept called Panchina (or “Bench” in Italian) open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a high-end Italian restaurant called Brocca (or “Pitcher” in Italian) open for dinner only – and, well, you get the picture.
500 Crawford is slated to become home base in a game-changing neighborhood currently without name that is arguably on track to morph into the most walk-able neighborhood in Houston history – thanks in large part to METRORail’s new Purple and Green Lines running East/West along Capitol and Rusk Streets. For that reason alone, the burgeoning neighborhood in the Northeast quadrant of downtown Houston needs a proper name. So just for fun – and until someone tells me differently – we’ll call it NEADO for its Northeast Downtown location (with a nod to the neat-o lifestyle the neighborhood offers future residents).
In the interest of taking one for the team, I walked out the front door of 500 Crawford in the heart of NEADO at exactly 2:33 PM on a recent sunny and crisp afternoon with my trusty Fitbit clad to my wrist and got down to the serious business of counting steps. One block, 5 minutes, and 448 steps later, I arrive at the George R. Brown Convention Center / Purple Line Rail Stop on Capitol Street. I waited a mere 2 minutes for my proverbial carriage to whisk me westward to the Theater District Rail Stop. Time check – 2:43 PM.
Exactly 10 minutes after walking out the front door of 500 Crawford, I stood in the shadows of the grand dames of Houston’s performing arts venues – Jones Hall, The Wortham Center, and Alley Theatre – and across the street from Bayou Place and Sundance Cinemas and the multitude of restaurants and bars surrounding all of it. After completing my due diligence, I took the short walk one block over to the Rusk Street Theater District METRORail Stop and back onto the train at 4:57 PM. The 4 minute reverse commute to the Convention Center seemed like it ended before it had begun, and in no time flat I was back at my NEADO headquarters on Crawford at precisely 5:09 PM.
After conquering the 448 steps to the nearby Light Rail Stop – which also means 500 Crawford is technically 448 steps away from the Museum District, Texas Medical Center, Hermann Park, and even NRG Stadium if you transfer to the North/South Red Line at the Central Station on Main Street – it was time to really walk-the-walk.
So let’s cut to the chase with the Statistically Significant Results of my step counting exercise from 500 Crawford in the heart of NEADO to the nearby hotspots teeming with action:
420 steps / 34 calories / and 4 minutes to Jackson Street BBQ
674 steps / 53 calories / and 6 minutes to 1820 Lounge
684 steps / 60 calories / and 9 minutes to Moonshiners
719 steps / 69 calories / and 10 minutes to Preston Redline METRORail Stop
786 steps / 68 calories / and 8 minutes to Minuti Coffee
791 steps / 74 calories / and 7 minutes to Phoenicia (and the just a hop to Discovery Green)
811 steps / 68 calories / and 9 minutes to Azuma Sushi
955 steps / 79 calories / and 9 minutes to Tout Suite
964 steps / 86 calories / and 9 minutes to Warehouse Live and Lucky’s Pub
1019 steps / 95 calories / 13 minutes to OKRA Charity Saloon (and all the coolness of Historic Market Square)
1,075 steps / 102 calories / and 10 minutes to Huynh’s Restaurant and Bayou City Barber Shop
1,187 steps /108 calories / and 14 minutes to Jones Hall
1,368 steps / 132 calories / and 12 minutes to Toyota Center
1,518 steps / 146 calories / and 15 minutes to 8th Wonder Brewery
And…. drum roll please…...
38 steps / 3 calories / and 19 seconds to the Left Field entrance to Minute Maid Park
At long last, Houston is on the cusp of joining the walk-about fraternity of major metropolises around the country. In less than half the steps it takes to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, NEADO residents can be in their seats at The Wortham Center or sipping on craft beers at 8th Wonder Brewery. Urban Dwellers in cities like New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston have long-mastered their respective transit systems making their commutes a time for drinking coffee, reading emails, chatting on Facebook or just enjoying peace, quiet and solitude before jumpstarting the work day. They take advantage of this freedom without the hassle of traversing their way through ungodly gridlock to and from work.
Even with shrinking gas prices, more people are stepping out of their cars and into their most comfortable walking shoes for their commutes. It’s time we took advantage of the clean, safe, efficient, and underused mass transit system that has been created for us. So take back the morning, take back your health, take a walk to the METRORail, and take time for yourself.
Still not convinced? Book a tour, walk the walk to 500 Crawford and get a glimpse of the new urban lifestyle in the middle of it all. 500Crawford.com