Houston City Council Extends Westchase District 380 Agreement | WESTCHASE DISTRICT

Construction progress: This aerial view of Camden Park shows construction progress on the food and beverage pavilion, which will be the home of the onsite restaurant, Sunday Press.

Imagine driving down Richmond Avenue without dodging potholes. Or walking leisurely down almost any Westchase District street well-lit by improved pedestrian lighting. Envision attending a concert at a newly-built performance venue in Westchase District.

All that will be possible under the District’s new 380 area agreement with the City of Houston. Houston City Council unanimously approved a 10-year extension of the 380 at its meeting on November 1. The new agreement comes as Westchase District is wrapping up the first ten years of the 380 program, which resulted in the construction of Woodchase Park, the complete rebuild of Walnut Bend Lane, streetscape improvements on Westheimer Road, and – soon to come – Camden Park and the rebuild of Meadowglen Lane west of the Sam Houston Tollway.

“Westchase Management District has done a yeoman’s job with this 380 agreement,” said District F City Council Member Tiffany Thomas, who led the effort to pass the extension. “What it really demonstrates is when we have these kinds of partnerships, we can drastically improve our neighborhoods. Wilcrest Park [now Camden Park] is going to be transformational similar to what the Alief Neighborhood Center is,” added Thomas.

The 380 agreement is funded by taxes paid into the City from properties within the 380 boundaries. Westchase District receives two-thirds of that income and the City keeps one-third. The District can invest the money in a pre-approved list of projects within our area including streets, parks and other infrastructure projects.

Roadway and drainage projects top list

The biggest share of the money will be invested in roadway and drainage projects including: rebuilding 1.4 miles of Richmond Avenue (west of Beltway 8 to Woodland Park Drive); Meadowglen Lane (between Gessner and Seagler); Hayes Road (between Richmond and Westheimer); and Wallingford Drive (between Westheimer and Meadowglen.)

Other planned projects include: an infill street between Wilcrest and Walnut Bend south of Westheimer; a side path on Tanglewilde Street between Ella Lee and Meadowglen; connecting the Westpark Trail from Briarpark to Beltway 8; and installing pedestrian lighting on Briarpark, Pagewood, Woodland Park and Wilcrest.

“Now that the 380 has been extended, we’ll develop a project timeline,” said Westchase District President & CEO Irma Sanchez, who oversaw the first ten years of 380 development. “We’ll look at which projects might be eligible for outside funding and how much revenue will come in over the next ten years. Then, with input from the board, we’ll develop a construction timeline.”

Performance venue possible

Dinner and a concert: Westchase District will execute a study to analyze the feasibility of a performance arts pavilion in the area.

One of the more ambitious proposals in the 380 project list is a performance pavilion. “The best way to describe it is to compare it to something that people already know,” said Sanchez. “I expect it will be larger than Hermann Park’s Miller Outdoor Theater, but smaller than the Cynthia Woods Mitchell pavilion in The Woodlands. Like The Woodlands pavilion, it would have both covered, tiered pavilion seating as well as lawn seating.”

The first step will be to conduct a feasibility study to see if the pavilion would work in Westchase District. And if so, it would be plugged into the pipeline of projects, according to Sanchez.

Planning is key

The District’s original 380 agreement was passed by City Council in 2013 and planning began immediately. “We developed an urban plan that became a master plan for the projects proposed by the 380,” said Sanchez.  “We started design on Walnut Bend Lane. We solicited and received federal grant money. We really started fast and it was still three years before the District completed the first project under the 380 agreement. Doing it right takes time.”

First decade of success

The beginning: The first project completed under the 380 agreement was the HCC Campus Trail. Officials from Westchase District, CenterPoint Energy, City of Houston and Houston Community College celebrate the groundbreaking on January 20, 2017.

By any scale, the first ten years of Westchase District’s 380 agreement have been an unqualified success.

  • Approximately 60% of the capital improvement spending came from the 380. The rest came from federal grants, private donors and other sources, demonstrating the District’s ability to leverage resources to create projects with greater value.
  • Private property values for properties immediately adjacent to Woodchase Park and Walnut Bend Lane rose 44% and 40% respectively, compared to 21% for all other properties in Westchase District since 2020.
  • More than 100 property owners signed easements (with a combined value of $5.7 million) to support the projects under the 380 agreement.

“Westchase District has proven itself to be a good steward of City money,” said Sanchez. “Our investments in the community – from parks and trails to roadway improvements and landscaping – benefit not only the businesses and residents of Westchase District, but anyone in the City who drives Westheimer Road or has attended an event at our park. We’re excited about the next phase of the 380 and will make similar investments that benefit all of Houston.”

Keep current on Westchase District news with The Wire, sent twice monthly.