More improvements coming to Houston's East End

March 20, 2013 7:22:09 PM PDT
The city of Houston is known for a lot of things, but it's walkability is not one of them. But with new development booming on the east side, business owners and city officials are hoping for an opportunity to change that.

The effort in the East End began a decade ago. Countless community meetings with residents and stakeholders revealed they want walkability, street markets and beautification and now these projects are pulling in development.

Known as the East End, its nearness to the central business district makes up part of the view. And orange is a common color in the area, as constant construction projects are laying the framework for revitalization.

"Doing things so that developers feel like this is a place that makes sense, and it's a place where they would like to take advantage of the opportunity to build maybe new residential housing near downtown, or maybe mixed-use development along the rail," said Patrick Ezzell with the Greater East End District.

More than four miles of METRO rail lines are just about complete and soon will take commuters into downtown. A linear park on Navigation Boulevard is underway. In all, $20 million is being invested in pedestrian networks, hike and bike trails and other beautification projects.

The progress is giving entrepreneurs confidence. The El Tiempo Restaurant just opened on Navigation Boulevard two months ago.

"It was even more exciting to be a part of it, to see the newness of what Houston's got going on and to be a part of that," said Christine Gomez, who does marketing for the restaurant.

The vision for the East End's 16 square miles began more than a decade ago. The focus is safety and nice scenery.

"We brought on additional security with Harris County constables, we have a graffiti abatement team," said Ezzell. "Now the East End crime rates have gone down below most other areas throughout the city of Houston."

Now as its mixed-development continues, some residents are finding work and play within the East End boundaries.

"It's a one-stop shop. We are very fortunate in the East End to have residential and commercial so a lot of people that live in the East End work in the East End," said Frances Castaneda Dyess with the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce.

Even more projects are planned, and the good news is negotiations on coming residential developments are happening right now.

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