HOUSTON, Texas — With the McDonald's in Midtown permanently closing, and the Greyhound bus station property across the street up for sale, some are hoping these changes will pave the way for future projects that will make that section of Midtown look completely different -- including the Pierce Elevated.
“Downtown says look, let’s take advantage of an opportunity here," Kinder Baumgardner, the managing principal of SWA Houston said.
TxDOT announced years ago their plans to re-route I-45 around downtown through Highway 59 and I-10. Right now, that project is on a federal pause, but if it moves forward as planned, the entire stretch of Pierce Elevated would no longer be used.
So designers are coming up with new ideas for that road.
“There’s a big debate. Do you leave that infrastructure up, turn it into something? Or do you take it down, turn it into something new?” Baumgardner said.
Baumgardner and SWA Houston are the designers behind Buffalo Bayou Park and GRB Plaza. They were tasked with figuring out options for Pierce Elevated.
One idea the group came up with was turning it into a "Sky Park."
“You can ride your bike along it," Baumgardner said. "You can go for a run. You can also get some food. You can take in a view. You can linger and hang out there."
TxDOT says there are no definitive plans for Pierce Elevated yet, but Baumgardner says the momentum is there.
“I think there’s a huge opportunity for it to happen, and these kind of businesses and properties becoming available, definitely just makes it much more realistic," Baumgardner said.
TxDOT says there is no timeline on when the federal pause will be lifted.