When Houston City Councilman Larry Green envisions what the Five Corners community can be in 15 to 20 years, he sees big changes.
“I think we’ll see several projects by the Medical Center in Five Corners area along Highway 90. We’re seeing that now with the Menninger Clinic,” he said. “The Medical Center is landlocked now and they’re moving south because we have the most open undeveloped land in the city in one area.”
“You’ll also see several new multi-family units, and we’re pressing for Class A,” Green said. “We’re starting to see that happen as well. With Chapter 42 just passing City Council, you’ll see more density and more residential coming into the area.” Greater density is a key factor in attracting a big supermarket to the community, he said, adding that companies like Randall’s, HEB, Kroger and Walmart have already been approached.
“I think you’ll see lots of economic development along 90 as well as along Beltway 8,” he said adding that mixed use, commercial and industrial development projects are all likely.
“Five Corners has lots of land for industrial growth, and because Beltway 8 is a straight shot to the Port of Houston, we’re going to be marketing to some of these companies that do business at the port,” Green said.
“The objective of the management district of Five Corners is to create neighborhoods that are stable that are safe and they are 21st century,” the councilman said. “We make sure that we have a management district that’s focused on public safety, beautification, environmental design, economic development by attracting quality businesses and quality residential projects to the area.”
“The management district is looking to brand the area with signage, wayfinding, esplanade upgrades, lighting and design, and so we’re working with Asakura Robinson to put that master plan in place,” Green said. “We’re also working with the new public buildings and facilities that are coming into the area to make sure they understand that we’re branding the area and that they understand there’s a master plan with regards to design and beautification.
Green said construction on a new Madison High School is expected to begin in 2017, and a new Dowling Middle School will be underway late next year. Construction on a new Houston Police Department substation will begin in 2014, too, he said.
“On all of those major projects that are coming to the area, we’ll be working with those architects and design consultants to make sure they’re in sync with what the management district is doing,” the councilman said.
The new police substation may play an indirect role in economic development, addressing one of two concerns, he said.
“I think the largest impediments to economic development have been two-fold,” Green said. “One may be a perceived crime issue, which I think we’ve done a great job of mitigating. The management district has set up cameras all around the district and they’ve also hired a private security detail. Thus, we’ve seen a decrease in crime in Five Corners. With the coming of the new HPD police station, that will increase their visibility and police presence. We’re expecting that, too, will help bring crime down.”
The second roadblock may be circumvented if a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) is created, and in July, Houston City Council is expected to vote on that prospect. A TIRZ overlaying the Five Corners District will provide revenue for infrastructure improvement projects, Green said.
“With regard to the infrastructure, we have some issues with water and sewer lines in the area, and for developers to come in, we’ve had to work with that,” he said. “The council has worked with the mayor’s office of economic development on putting in a much-needed infrastructure.
Green also said there is a goal to make the Five Corners community a technology hub with a cloud over it so that everyone in the area can connect to Wi-Fi and leaders from the area have already had meetings with tech companies to talk about making that happen.