The financial resources required for comprehensive success throughout the District are beyond MACDC’s current capacity. Therefore, MACDC is seeking partners, loans, investor funding and public support to address negative issues affecting the District, and to capitalize on viable development opportunities.
MacGregor Area Community Development Corporation (MACDC) Organized in 1992, the MACDC serves as a catalyst for positive change in the Riverside District, and it has a record of accomplishments. Most members of its five-member Board of Directors are long-time residents of the District, and bring vast experience in small business operations, marketing, law, community development, housing finance, and civic service to the organization. In addition to real estate assets, MACDC has an office, an experienced professional staff, and some cash reserves.
In 1995, MACDC partnered with another nonprofit community development corporation to successfully acquire and redevelop a blighted 9-acre shopping center at Scott Street and Old Spanish Trail (OST). The shopping’s name was changed to “The Renaissance Center”. Since the absence of a quality supermarket was a major problem for the Riverside District, the partnership was successful in attracting an HEB Supermarket as a tenant. The revitalized shopping center attracted new developments and other major retailers including Walgreens, CVS and Chase Bank. Together, these businesses have created over 300 new jobs near the Scott-OST intersection since 1995.
In 2007, the MACDC and its partner CDC sold the Renaissance Center to a large shopping center management company for a substantial profit, and the profit from the sale is source of the equity that the MACDC currently uses to acquire and develop problem properties in the District
In addressing problem properties, MACDC has acquired and removed blight from over 20 lots and tracts.
The Riverside District The MACDC selected the “Riverside District” name for the geographical area that is the focus of its revitalization effort. The District is not an official designation by any public entity. The Riverside District is located roughly four miles south of downtown Houston and within one mile east of the world’s largest medical center, the Texas Medical Center at Houston. It includes several residential subdivisions in historic Riverside Terrace as well as the OST commercial corridor. Its boundaries are South MacGregor Way on the North, Old Spanish Trail on the South, Highway 288 on the West, and Calhoun Street on the East. Developed initially for Houston’s wealthy Jewish families, most of the District’s single-family homes were built before 1950, while most of the multifamily homes and commercial buildings were built during the 1950’s. A socio-economic change from Jewish wealthy began in the 60’s, and the District is now a predominantly middle and low-income African American community.
Demographic Profile Based on 2009 estimated census data, the District has a population of roughly 5,000 persons who reside in approximately 1100 owner-occupied units and 735 renter-occupied units. Ethnically, roughly 82% of the population is African American, 10% is Hispanic, 4% is White, and 3% is Asian. The District’s median household income of roughly $43,000 is less than 80% of the estimated Houston area median household income of $63,800, and makes it eligible for redevelopment resources from several Federal, state and local community and economic development agencies.
Neighborhood Concern Several socio-economic factors are adversely impacting the livability and stability of the District and include the following:
- A large number of buildings, both residential and commercial, are displaying physical deterioration as they near the end of their useful lives;
- Absentee-owners of residential properties are neglecting their properties and renting to tenants who bring negative attributes to the neighborhood such as residential overcrowding, parking or repairing cars on front lawns, raising chickens outdoors, leaving trash in yards for days, etc.
- Over thirty long-time vacant homes and commercial buildings attract vagrants and criminal elements to the District.
- Undesirable businesses including nightclubs, hourly motels and liquor stores are sources of major nuisances and are deterrents to new residential and commercial investments, especially between Scott and Highway 288.
- The majority of homeowners in the District are seniors and many do not have the financial resources to adequately maintain their homes.
- Many middle-income families are discouraged from moving into the neighborhood due to a negative perception of public schools serving the District.
- Many potential buyers are also discouraged by an inadequate amount of quality retail stores.
Neighborhood Advantages The Riverside District has many factors that make it ideal for redevelopment including 200 acres of vacant or very deteriorated properties. The District is:
- Located near two of Houston’s major regional employment centers: downtown and the Texas Medical Center;
- Minutes away from five nearby colleges and universities (U of H, TSU, Rice, St. Thomas, U of H/DT, and the Houston Community College Central);
- A land investment opportunity with a large supply of low cost residential and commercial real estate when compared to the adjacent neighborhoods to the west; ,/li>
- Home to a large core of prominent business people, public officials, community leaders and professionals (medical, legal, engineers/architects, education, corporate);
- Within seven minutes driving distance to the nation’s second largest theatre district (downtown) and premium shopping centers (downtown, Rice Village, Galleria);
- A green place containing a forest of mature trees and homes with spacious lawns;
- Enveloped by large parks at its western and eastern edges, and a two-mile linear park and bike/walking trail along scenic Braes Bayou on its north;
- Walking distance or a short commute from several top recreational venues including Hermann Park with its zoo, six museums, golf course, playgrounds, and outdoor theater;
- Within the redevelopment target areas of several government-sponsored agencies.
Revitalization Strategy MACDC has undertaken a revitalization program to reverse the current downhill trend in the Riverside District’s livability caused by physical deterioration, poorly managed rental properties, criminal activity and undesirable businesses. The revitalization effort focuses on building partnerships to capitalize on four economic opportunities:
a)Acquiring severely deteriorated properties, vacant lots and other problem properties at low prices and transforming them into new owner-occupied homes for working families;
b)Filling needs of professionals service businesses and large employment centers including Downtown Houston, Texas Medical Center, major inner-loop universities, and public entities for employee housing, offices, diagnostic labs, parking, storage, student housing and other supportive facilities;
c)Filling voids in quality retail and dining selections in the District;
d)Utilizing traffic congestion and other mobility issues to market lower-cost traditional homeownership opportunities in a prime inner-loop neighborhood.
Revitalization Goals and Objectives MACDC’s overall goals are to attract working families to new homes in the Riverside District and to support higher quality retail and commercial development along OST. Substantial progress toward these goals would help sustain the District’s standing as an excellent place for families to live, and would encourage others to make private investments in the area. MACDC has adopted the following seven-year objectives:
- Directly cause 150 vacant or substantially deteriorated properties to be transformed into 150 or more new owner-occupied single-family homes.
- Assist in curing blight and deterioration on 150 properties owned by others.
- Promote homeownership opportunities in the district to 100,000 households with incomes above the Houston area median income.
- Attract commercial businesses and quality retail stores by facilitating 250,000 sq. ft. of commercial development.
- Provide $100,000 in support to civic and educational entities that operate effective community improvement programs that enhance MACDC investments.
- Increase personal and property security by increasing police presence surveillance, video surveillance cameras, and better community relationships.
Specific Projects MACDC has acquired sufficient property to build at least 50 new housing units. The following projects are underway to help achieve the objectives:
- St Augustine Place Residential Community: a gated enclave to build nine new single-family homes for middle and upper middle-income buyers. Property has been acquired,
- Calloway Park Residential Development: 50 new single-family homes to revitalize this mostly vacant and deteriorated neighborhood.
- Riverside Custom Homes: Five new single-family new constructed on five scattered lots in the Riverside Terrace Subdivision.
- Terrace Oaks Residential Development: Acquired and demolished eight very deteriorated vacant houses located within one block of` Thompson Elementary School. Built nine new detached single-family homes on these sites.
- Culberson Place: 10 new modestly priced single-family detached homes. Option B: Rental housing for senior residents.
- Police Community Center/Video Surveillance Monitoring Station: Crime prevention program for Calloway Park and adjacent neighborhoods.
- Gateway Commercial Center: Transform vacant and deteriorated commercial properties and several properties housing problem businesses at the intersection of Highway 288 and Old Spanish Trail into a viable retail and commercial center.
Benefits From Successful Redevelopment Successfully redeveloping the Riverside District would bring very important benefits to residents, schools, employers, neighborhood businesses, and local government. These benefits would include the following:
- A more wholesome environment for families and individuals
- More opportunities for employees to live near their inner-loop jobs
- Larger consumer market to support higher quality retail and service businesses
- Increased employment from construction and consumer-oriented businesses
- Preservation of one of Houston’s historic neighborhoods
- Substantial reduction in factors contributing to criminal activities
- Increased tax revenues for local governmental entities
Financial Needs and Sources To achieve the objectives and benefits stated above, new loans, equity investments, and grant contributions will be required annually. These funds would cover:
- Office Operations including Staffing
- Equity for New Real Estate Acquisitions
- Loans for Home Mortgages and business development
- Architectural, Engineering, and Other Technical Services
- Real Estate Maintenance including taxes
- Riverside District Marketing
- Small home improvement grants to low income property owners
- Small contributions to effective civic improvement organizations.
Some of these financial requirements are beyond MACDC’s very limited real estate holdings and funds. Therefore, MACDC will be seeking additional financial resources from businesses, institutional and individuals in the form of equity, loans, grants and other contributions.
Contact Information MACDC’s office is located at 2545 Almeda Rd, Suite 445, Houston, Texas 77004. For additional information the Riverside District project, please call 713-589-2545 or visit our website www.riversidedistricthouston.org.