Many years back Houston's real estate developers and quality of life minded citizenry banded together to tackle the billboard blight along Houston's highways. If you remember the forest of billboards near the Hwy 59/Spur 5 interchange, you'll realize organizations like Scenic Houston (which was set up for this cause) have had considerable success. Now the city fathers and mothers are going after the dilapidated real estate along Houston's only natural-scape, the city's Bayous, in order to develop them into huge parks that cut through the city.
An organization called Red Fields to Green Fields is helping to spearhead this initiative. About a week ago, a video and a case study was released in promotion of this effort. We found it very inspiring and think it is a worthy cause. Below we've identified the Houston neighborhoods that would be most effected by the development of these parks which will make them really interesting, fun places to live. What Houston neighborhoods do you think will be impacted?
1. Woodland Heights
Of all of the neighborhoods listed, Woodland Heights is farthest along as far as development of the bayou area as a park. The new North Downtown Bikeway is almost complete. This 2.8-mile-long bike trail extends from UH-Downtown all the way to Stude Park, home of the big red sculpture thing, near I-10 and Studemont. This bike trail is making this area of the Bayou even more accessible and "user friendly". Walkability to a much more accessible, much more usable park should help to make Woodland Heights even more sought after than it was before.
2. EaDo, Eastwood and Second Ward
EaDo, Eastwood, Second Ward, whatever you want to call it, this area of town is located just east of Downtown Houston (i.e. EaDO, get it). Over the past several years, Houston city planners and developers have spent a significant amount of time and effort to encourage development of this area. Currently, Houston's new MLS soccer stadium is being constructed in this area and promises to bring even additional development. However, the problem with this area has been that much of it is overrun by warehouses, some of which are not very well kept or even abandoned. An initiative to help eradicate the area of the most undesirable pieces of real estate could be extremely helpful to development. The section of Buffalo Bayou that runs through this area is extremely under utilized and inaccessible. Creating more open, usable greenspaces along the bayou would definitely help make the warehouse sections of this neighborhood much more attractive for development, which in turn would make the more attractive subdivisions, such as Eastwood, Lawndale, and Idlewood, a better place to live.
3. Cottage Grove
Located just North of I-10 and East of Shepherd, this area of town has gone through an astonishing transformation in the past several years. Newly developed townhome and patio home communities have sprung up almost over night, replacing vacant warehouses and small, dilapidated homes. A mix of affordability and convenience to Downtown Houston, the Galleria, Memorial Park, and the Washington Corridor has propelled much of this development. What this neighborhood has in convenience, it lacks in open greenspace. Even though the neighborhood runs along the banks of White Oak bayou, it has no direct access to the already substantial hike/bike trail that runs along it. An expansion of the hike/bike trail, expansion of the usable park space along the bayou's banks, and a further clearing out of old warehouses would help this neighborhood tremendously in creating attractive outdoor amenities.
Timbergrove and Lazybrook have some really nice wide open spaces around the park already. However, what the park could use along the bayou is some upgrades in the available amenities. Since, the White Oak Bayou runs the entire length of these neighborhoods, this initiative to create more usable park space could have a real impact. Returning the paved sections of the bayou to a more natural and attractive condition would encourage residents of Timbergrove to use the park and in turn would enhance the overall lifestyle of the neighborhood.