Officials trying to bring more residents in downtown Houston

August 16, 2012 4:54:15 PM PDT
There's a new initiative in the works that hopes to bring more residents into downtown Houston. The city wants to give developers financial incentives to build more residential properties on the downtown's east side.

Over the last decade, we've seen more office buildings go up in downtown. We've seen Discovery Green go up with great success. But, we haven't seen an increase in the number of people who actually live in downtown. Now the city's hoping to change that.

Rory Doyal has lived downtown for a dozen years, but he hasn't seen a lot of others flocking to be his neighbors.

"I've seen it stagnate a little bit and actually go down," he said.

In an effort to boost the downtown population above just a few thousand people, you need new buildings, and the city is ready to give developers incentives in the form of a new 380 agreement.

"We are working in the downtown area to try to generate more residential construction," Houston Mayor Annise Parker said.

Until the One Park Place apartments opened a few years ago, the last time a new downtown high-rise residential opened downtown was in the 1980s.

Supporters of this new initiative are hoping to change that.

"If we were successful in really getting full 2,500 units, that would almost double the number of residential units downtown," said Bob Eury, executive director of the Downtown District.

The area covered by this proposed incentive includes the area just east of Main Street, from Minute Maid Park to the convention center. Qualifying builders would need to include ground-level retail, enhance walkability and get to additional economic incentives. If the plan passes city council, longtime residents like Doyal could finally get some new neighbors

"If you're able to bring people together then you have something to work with," Doyal said.

Not everyone is happy with this 380 agreement. Jeff Jackson with the group Responsible Urban Development For Houston says these developments could be made without this initiative.

But the entire package is scheduled to go before City Council for consideration next week.

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