Development aims to revitalize MLK corridor

June 11, 2010 10:37:45 AM PDT
Plans are in the works to fix up an area of the Third Ward and to help a neighborhood that has been struggling. A lot of development is going on in the Upper MLK Corridor -- the area along Martin Luther King Boulevard just south of MacGregor Park to Griggs Road.

With the lunchtime crowd gone for the day, Kalonji Rouse turns his attention to what's just outside his restaurant. The new YMCA supported by the Houston Texans is going up, and the beginnings of the light rail are snaking down Martin Luther King Blvd.

"I've been here for 15 years. We've seen good or bad, but we're hoping for the best in these projects that are happening," said Rouse.

The tinge of doubt in his voice is obvious. Rouse says that's because for decades, the promise of change along MLK has always been much greater than the reality. But slowly, development is occurring.

Besides the Y and the light rail, there's the fairly new Oasis, a high-end gated community. And KIPP Academy has bought land for a school. All of it has prompted a nearby church to organize a community forum this weekend to talk about revitalization.

"The concern is that community members will sit back and be passive observers to all this great work going on, and we won't grasp the opportunity be a part of this development and just let it go on by," said Pastor Aswad Walker of the Shrine Cultural & Event Center.

In a community filled with long-time residents, not everyone is embracing what's new. Trent Holley says he's enjoyed the peace and quiet of his older neighborhood.

When we asked Holley if change is good or bad, he replied, "It's kind of hard to say, but I think it could be a little better."

For Rouse, he's anticipating a dip in business when light rail construction ramps up even more. But he says he's a patient man, and the changes along MLK are for the better.

"I think it's going to be a good thing for the community, and people that are here 10 or 15 years from now will see it," Rouse said.

The Shrine Cultural & Event Center will host a forum on Saturday at 2pm to talk about the development along the corridor.

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