HOUSTON - A group of developers says there is a difference between revitalization and the widespread gentrification being done in historically Black neighborhoods in Houston.
Park Street Homes claims that it’s focused on doing the former.
Saturday the developers broke ground on Grand Park Square inside the Greater OST/ South Union area which is bordered by Griggs Road, Highway 288 and the 610 Loop.
“My family, three generations, are steeped in this area. My mother lives down the street,” says co-founder Kevan Shelton.
The team is being led him and his wife who graduated from the University of Houston.
“It is not gentrification but actually adding value to the community, re-developing the community,” says Shelton. “Instead of just building a product and making a profit, we actually want to add elements that improve the community, make the community better, and bring people back to the community that are outplaced.”
He says there has been a lack of attractive housing to encourage the return of the young professionals who may have grown up in the area.
Although the zip code has the highly coveted “inside the loop” descriptor, the neighborhood has a record of high crime and has gone largely untouched by residential development for the past decade.
The Grand Park Square project plans to build 16 single-family homes on an empty lot off of Ward Street.
According to zillow.com, the median home price for neighboring houses is less than $80,000. The price of the new homes is expected to be in the mid to upper $200,000s.
“We wanted to keep it affordable for essential workers. We’re close to the medical center. We’re close to downtown,” says Park Street Homes co-founder Ayesha Shelton. “It’s kind of the frontier for “in the loop” that has yet to be developed, so we want to make it accessible.”
Although they’re hoping to attract an upwardly-mobile crowd who want to live within the city in a nice home, they also say they’re taking preventative measures to avoid pushing out older residents because of increased property taxes and a lack of affordable housing.
“We’re very passionate about not displacement, but education- helping people learn how to maximize their value but keep their taxes down, minimize the impacts of gentrification while getting the benefits,” Kevan says they work with older patrons while Ayesha adds that they are in communication with community development corporations about long-term plans for the area.
This may be one of the last areas inside city limits where you can get a brand new build for less than $300,000, but the team says big banks have been slow to join the project.
“It’s almost uncharted territory,” says Junious Williams IV, managing partner of Grand Park Square LLC and Stradford Capital Partners. “There’s a lot of development going on closer to 288 on the other side of Cullen, and we are kind of the pioneers jumping on this side. It’s also one of our first big projects. I think that’s a part of it,” he explains.
Instead of big-name backing, the developers were able to raise equity through friends and family to get started. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Senator Borris Miles attended the groundbreaking ceremony, demonstrating their support for the buildout.
“We were out here four to five months ago,” says Williams. “There was trash along the streets and dumping, and the private developers have been the ones cleaning up the area.”
Construction is expected to start in December with homes going up for sale in March 2021.
For more info, visit grandparksquarehtx.com