By Christina Autry
2020 holds the promise of significant, exciting development within the Five Corners District. “We’re about to see dirt turning in the first quarter of 2020,” says Melva Thornton, Chair of Beautification for the District’s Environmental and Urban Design Committee.
Infrastructure projects around the district continue to advance thanks to the tri-party agreement and collaboration between TIRZ 9, TIRZ 25, and the Five Corners District. “As part of the tri-party partnership, we are planning to improve four major intersections, with work beginning in the first quarter of the year,” says Thornton.
These intersections have been strategically chosen order to increase ease of mobility around and through the district. “We have thousands of people traveling into the district every week,” says Thornton. Much-needed improvements such as adding lanes to increase traffic flow, installing new traffic signals and masts, repairing and painting curbs, creating crosswalks, and landscaping will give these intersections a fresh remodel.
In addition, four underpasses marking the entrances to the Five Corners District will gain colorful lighting installations on bridge columns, as a symbolic entryway into the district. “We want to continue our re-brand of the district,” explains Thornton. “One of the first ways we did that, years ago, was by putting up district signs,” she says. “Now we are looking for more avenues to visibly brand the district so that it is distinctive and recognizable to visitors and residents.”
A huge part of creating a positive image has been achieved through the work of Smartscaping, a company which maintains a clean, green environment around the district. During the third quarter of 2019, Smartscaping collected 6,085 pounds of garbage, removed 987 bandit signs, and mowed 1,319 business fronts. Their work with the Beautification Committee has made an invaluable impact on the appearance of the district.
“Smartscaping is a wonderful company. Beautification is an important part of attracting economic development,” says Thornton. “Everybody wants to live and work in a clean community, and we want to encourage our residents and visitors to keep trash off the streets by disposing of it properly,” she emphasizes. The Beautification Committee will be creating “Keep it Clean” signs to be placed around the district to serve as a reminder to care for the neighborhood. “Money spent picking up trash could be better spent in different ways,” notes Thornton.
New CenterPoint hiking and biking trails which connect to Sims Bayou Greenway have become a green method of transportation through the district. “These trails have been a big success in bringing people through the community. People are visibly seeing the changes that are happening in the district,” says Thornton.
The three new Metro bus stops in the works for 2020 will connect to the CenterPoint Trail, providing crosswalks, shelters and signs, making the stops as accessible as possible.
Perhaps one of the most highly anticipated developments of 2020 will be the construction of a brand new amphitheater and outdoor market where a detention basin currently sits. The amphitheater will host musical performances, along with a large lawn for guest seating, and picnic area with access to food trucks and other pop-up shops.
Residents of the Five Corners District are welcomed and encouraged to be part of the discussion for current and future developments. Meetings for the Beautification Committee occur every first Monday of the month at 1:00 PM at The Fountain of Praise, and are open to the public. “It takes a small group of dedicated people to get big jobs done. And if we have a few more hands, we could get even more done,” says Thornton.
“I am very excited about these projects coming down the pipe,” says Thornton. “What we’re doing is thirty years in the making.” These rejuvenating projects are occurring in a district that is highly rated for safety, in a prime location for travel around Houston due to the freeways which border the district. With their low crime rate, schools being remodeled, and infrastructure projects in the works, the Five Corners District is in the perfect position to make 2020 a momentous year.