Awesome reader David sent me an e-mail today that said, in part:
I thought you might be interested in combating the sprawling of big-chain restaurants in the Houston area. The new ‘WaterLights District’ that is being constructed in Pearland is polling to select the restaurants for their new riverwalk-style project…
Yes, Dave. Yes, I am.
I don’t live in Pearland, but I will support anything that encourages more local establishments / restaurants in the Houston metro area.
For those of you who don’t live in Pearland and / or don’t run in commercial development circles, the WaterLights District is one of the many efforts to develop pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use, high-density “city centers” in various parts of Houston. The first attempt in The Woodlanads was such a success, that now many other areas / suburbs are throwing their proverbial hats in the ring, too.
One such development is taking place directly across the street from my neighborhood: City Centre, which is being developed in the footprint of the old Town & Country Mall and which will be a sister development to the wildly successful Town & Country Center, from which it is only separated by a small street. City Centre will be a mix of lofts, brownstones, high-end retail and restaurants, boutiques, a sprawling gym and an arthouse movie theatre.
In that same vein, Pearland is developing the WaterLights District, which has the added bonus of being located along a landscaped waterway with development on one side and a planned Presidential Park & Gardens along the other, to feature giant busts of various American presidents. Ever wonder what on earth was going on with those enormous heads in that parking lot off Taylor? I know I’m not the only person who went over there on the weekends to take pictures of them… Well, now you know.
And here’s where it gets really interesting: The WaterLights District’s developers are asking for the public’s input when it comes to choosing restaurants for “The Grand Canal.” I was pleasantly surprised to see a wealth of local restaurants in each category (I’m going to close my eyes and pretend that I didn’t see the disgusting Cracker Barrel and Olive Garden among the choices, though…).
I’m not sure how much bearing the public’s opinion will ultimately have on which restaurants are chosen, as I can’t really see the guys from Nino’s or Hugo’s or Vincent’s (just as examples) developing into “chains” or wanting to get involved with a project this cumbersome. And whatever the public says, it’s ultimately up to the individual restaurant owners as to whether or not they want to lease space here. But it’s a good tool to measure public interest and I appreciate that they’re making the effort to feel out their audience.
So, have at it, Pearland and non-Pearland residents alike. Want to see a Taste Of Texas on the Grand Canal? How about a reincarnation of the Rainbow Lodge? Go cast your vote and make your restaurant patron voice heard.