Montrose's New Bling to Feature Gourmet Signage

Welcome to the forever changing Montrose, the future home of “premium aluminum signage materials.”

Starting next month, the Montrose Management District goes full blast on its Montrose Visual Improvement Projects, which will include the installation of 28 identification markers attached to nine-foot-tall sort-of light poles, the dolling up of 20 intersections, and improvements to six esplanades. According to a document provided to the Press by the Montrose Management District, the boutique markers will feature “backlit banner sign face(s) with color changing LED light fixture installation.”

Peace out, bohemians. Hello, bons vivants.

Proposed locations for the signage include the neighborhood’s major arteries, such as the intersections of Montrose and Westheimer, West Dallas and Taft streets, West Alabama and Dunlavy streets, and South Shepherd and Richmond.

One of the first dug-up casualties will be the sand-gradient-colored chunk of concrete at the intersection of Westheimer and Bagby, officially known as the Museum District Neartown Gateway monument. The marker, christened in 1997, is located on the outskirts of Midtown and features a stylized “M” that was dreamt up by architect Irving Phillips, who also designed the Art League Houston building and the 14-story luxury condo The Riparian.

“The monument has stood as a recognizable feature announcing entry into the Montrose neighborhood at one of its most prominent gateways,” says Hawes Hill Calderon’s Tony Allender, project manager for mobility and visual enhancement for the Montrose Management District, which is in charge of the monument’s removal. Houston’s various management districts are commercial property tax-collecting bodies that frequently team with local tax increment reinvestment zones in order to improve infrastructure. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do.

“Replacement of the existing gateway monument is part of a larger effort to establish a common, marketable identity for the Montrose area through a system of markers and esplanades unique to the district,” says Allender, who adds that the first phase of the project, led by the Katy-based landscape architects Kudela & Weinheimer, begins in February.

Gretchen Larson, director of marketing at Hawes Hill Calderon, the lead consultant for the Montrose Monument District, returned the Press’s e-mail and offered to answer questions, but then never responded to our voice message.

And Allender didn’t answer the “how much is this going to cost” question, instead offering:

“The first phase of esplanades and markers is exclusively financed and managed by the [Montrose Management District]. Future phases could potentially be completed in partnership with the newly created TIRZ, particularly if improvements are to occur simultaneous with roadway improvements in the same area," says Allender, referring to the Montrose TIRZ that some folks aren’t very stoked about.

“That would be a discussion that will have to happen in the future once the TIRZ is fully up and running.”

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