Third Ward residents fired up over Riverside Terrace Historic District Proposal

Homeowners in the Riverside Terrace area of the Third Ward are fired up, they say the city is moving forward with turning part of their neighborhood into a historic district, even though the majority of homeowners voted no on the initial proposal. 

Residents told FOX 26 they believe the city found a workaround to keep the proposal alive. And that, if passed, it could push long-time residents out of their homes. 


"Their property rights should not be usurped from them by an employee of the city," said neighborhood spokesperson Tomaro Bell.

It all started when a group of homeowners in Riverside Terrace took a petition to the city of Houston, asking them to initiate a proposal for a Riverside Terrace historic district. The city held public meetings on the matter, and then a vote from the dozens of homes they planned to include in the district. They needed 67% of the vote to move forward, and fell short with a majority of homeowners voting against it. 

Bell says after the vote failed, residents thought they were in the clear, but the city found another way to keep the proposal alive. 

"The director of planning drew another map and took in the 13-homes that were in support, got three homes from another block, and built a new map. The people did not get to vote on that map," Bell explained. 


The new map presented a smaller amount of homes for the historic district, and with those changes they secured 68% of the vote allowing the proposal to move forward. 

Bell says the community sees this as gerrymandering, but the city says they did everything by the book. 

"Based on where the affirmative responses come back from the code, says the director then modifies the boundary in order to achieve a 67% property owner support," said Margaret Wallace Brown, Director of Planning and Development for the city of Houston. 

Brown says this is a standard procedure and everything was done within the guidelines handed down by the city council. Now, they’re moving forward with the proposal for what’s being called "the first riverside terrace historic district." 

"They’re referring to it as the first riverside district, this means it’s just a town say they can come in and breakthrough to the whole neighborhood," said resident Elizabeth Smith, who would be directly impacted if this proposal goes through. 


The 32% of residents who don’t want to be a part of the historic district say they feel their property rights are being stripped away, and that eventually they’ll be forced out of their homes. 

"They are not going to be pushed out of their homes, historic districts support property owners and there is nothing in a historic district that would price somebody out of their homes," Margaret Brown said. 

However, community members say not only will this dictate how they develop their land, but it could also impact them when it’s time to sell.

"You cannot sell your home to whomever you want to sell your home to, you cannot develop your home in any way you choose to. You cannot repair your home in a manner that you can afford to, they tell you what windows and things like that and this is not something these homeowners can afford," Bell explained. 

On Thursday night, the community and the city gathered for a meeting to discuss their concerns. The proposal will now head to city council for approval, and we could see a vote within the next few weeks.