Working to revitalize Houston's Fifth Ward

July 28, 2012 5:01:34 PM PDT
Houston's Fifth Ward is coming together to revitalize the historic neighborhood.

Architects from across the nation were invited to a meeting with the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation on Saturday. They discussed strategies for bringing businesses back to the area.

Lifetime residents like Billie Henderson are excited about the changes they are seeing.

"It was nice," she said. Bring it up to date!"

That's exactly what folks met to discuss Saturday morning: how to develop the best revitalization strategy for the Fifth Ward.

"What we're trying to do is bring the Fifth Ward of tomorrow," said Kathy Flanagan Payton, president and CEO of the Fifth Ward CRC. "We want to create and bring the vibrance back to this community."

It's a neighborhood rich in history, first developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Its sons and daughters include Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Congressman Mickey Leland, boxer George Foreman and jazz greats Joe Sample and The Crusaders.

The area endured a decline from 1965 through 1990. Decades later, community leaders say it is in need of retail shops, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses.

"The amenities that most communities enjoy," Payton said. "Our community has not had the pleasure of enjoying over the last 20 years."

The Fifth Ward CRC has assisted in putting together a team of national experts to help. Architects, working pro bono, met with those who live in the area Saturday to help them plan for the area's future, particularly along Lyons Avenue.

"Their job is really to act in the public interest. Listen to what the community has to say and then offer their best professional expertise," Joel Mills with the American Institute of Archeticts said.

Take, for example, the DeLux Theater, once abandoned and now being renovated. And homes, several of which have already been given a facelift.

"We're creating a community of choice, a community where people want to live, work and play," Fifth Ward native Harvey Clemons, Jr. said.

Folks living here hope this is just the beginning.

For more on the Fifth Ward redevelopment and what it means to those living there, go to fifthwardcrc.org.


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