February demolition of Gables Apartment complex. Photo by Ed Mayberry.
Last year the City of Houston tore down two apartment vacant apartment complexes in the same northwest Houston neighborhood. Before then the area was full of crime, residents were afraid to walk the streets. Not anymore.
"The turning point truly was when the mayor and the city council members got everyone together and said, 'we’ve got to do something about this community." They started helping us address the security issues and the crime issues by tearing down those apartment complexes."
Wayne Norden is President of the Near Northwest Management District. For Norden, helping improve the area isn’t just a job. He actually lives there and he believes the area can be just as nice and provide the same quality of life as any place in Houston.
"We’ve got four grocery stores in our community and we’d like to bring in some other higher end grocery stores that will cater to the single family or the multi-family where we have people that are looking for specific items. We’d like to see a whole variety of new restaurants."
Whether it’s more restaurants, grocery stores or townhouses, residents can say have their say at a special open house meeting tonight at the Advent Lutheran Church. Melanie Fahey works with Norden at the management district. It may be a low income area, but she says the people care about their community.
"Our National Night Out, we had 3500 people show up for our National Night Out. This is their shining moment. This is the moment that they get to have their say on the good changes that they want to see in the community. So we know they’ll be there."
And they say many of those who show up will probably walk — something they haven’t been able to do around here for some time.
"They’re not worried about safety now that we’ve torn down a lot of the properties here that were harboring criminals, they’ve gone away. And therefore people are more comfortable out on the street and walking to where they want to go."
Things are slowly changing in this area for the better. It’s not River Oaks or the Woodlands. But Wayne Norden says you never know, one day it could be.