Near Northside Joins Nationwide Initiative
NeighborWorks America chose 17 communities around the country for a marketing initiative that will help them attract and retain residents and businesses. On that list is Houston’s Near Northside/Northside Village, a rapidly revitalizing area east of the Heights and west of 59. NeighborWorks is partnering with Avenue CDC—assistant director Jenifer Wagley tells us she hopes the program will help dispel the negative reputation the neighborhood earned in the ‘90s. It’s gentrifying quickly, and she feels this is the last chance for the neighborhood to really define itself rather than letting outsiders determine who they are. (And maybe pick a new name—“Northside” calls to mind anything up to The Woodlands.) Above, the first NeighborWorks/Avenue CDC meeting yesterday.
Avenue CDC started working in Northside 14 years ago, when the area was filled with very poor housing stock, crumbling public infrastructure, high crime, and a leadership vacuum. Five years ago, the org became the convening agency for GoNeighborhoods, a sustainable community project to develop better housing and improve the health of the area. Jenifer says it’s had amazing results—the team has built 119 single-family homes and two multifamily communities totaling 193 units: Avenue Terrace, a mixed-income community that delivered three years ago (and which boasts a three-year waiting list) and Fulton Gardens, a HUD 202 project for low-income seniors. Its waiting list is even longer.
Avenue CDC is poised to build a second phase of Fulton Gardens to meet demand. New multifamily developments are in the works; Avenue Station will provide another 68 units. Property values have increased so much (a sure sign of an improving community) that the demand for affordable homes for working families is even greater. Jenifer’s group has done some façade grants to improve curb appeal and has been sponsoring local business owners to attend small business seminars. A year and a half ago, the Greater Northside Chamber of Commerce was created. The neighborhood also created the Sabor Del Northside festival, which has been a big source of pride.