Here Comes Wula Buhuan; Trucks Returning to Truck Yard; Gentrification on Steroids in Opportunity Zones

Photo of Fulton St. at Boundary St.: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool


25 Comment

  • The article on mid-rise apartments was fascinating regarding the history of these things. I’d always wondered about the prevalence of wood frame construction and now I know. Thanks for sharing!

  • I still don’t get what is bad about gentrification for the majority owner-occupied East End…

  • Gentrification is a terrible thing especially rapid gentrification. Also we should never kick people out of their homes. We need more affordable housing. The middle class needs a housing for them too. The blue collar workers suffer the most out of this

  • @Simon713 – I don’t see how a market transaction, i.e. buying an existing home from an existing owner at a mutually agreed upon price, is bad for either party? That is not kicking people out of their homes! I will concede that upping rents in conjunction with gentrification is probably not a good thing.

  • Had neighborhoods like Montrose, Midtown and the Heights not been allowed to gentrify, both the Inner Loop and Downtown wouldn’t be at all as valuable and desirable as you see today. The long time residents in the eastern portions of the Inner Loop can obviously see that the writing has been the wall when it comes to the same eventually happening to their neighborhoods. In order for inner cities to stay vibrant and economically competitive in today’s world, gentrification is unfortunately a necessary evil. Longtime homeowners affected by it can cash out and buy newer homes in the city or suburbs. Renters can move on to any of the thousands of other apartments in or around the Metro. Houston has one of the most affordable housing markets in the US so finding new financially suitable digs shouldn’t be a problem here. I hope those of you against gentrification 100% don’t frequent or use any of the restaurants, shops or entertainment facilities inside the western Inner Loop or Downtown. A lot of those facilities exist today because of gentrification.

  • I’ll say this, gentrification without increased density is a travesty for everyone. Only if the gentrifying areas are built to dense will the city benefit from it.

  • @Eastwood Resident
    The renters currently in homes are the main populations that face a crunch as property taxes go up, as their rents are necessarily increased. Long-time home owners on a fixed income also can face economic challenges. For most homeowners, incremental increases in the tax bill are by and large a fair trade off for redevelopment of vacant or otherwise underutilized lots and the increase in retail and restaurant options and other amenities. Plus, values on their own property typically increase faster than their tax bill does, so choosing to sell down the road for profit is likely.
    Simon713’s blanket statement that “gentrification is a terrible thing” is extremely simplistic. True, it does hurt some members of the local community but it is a meaningful net gain for the majority of people in the area. Would you rather have an over abundance of abandoned, overgrown lots and dilapidated commercial properties over new developments? Really?

  • It’s more like” I give you a year to say yes”. “you will sell me your 1.5 million lot with house on it for 1.2 million and if not I’ll just run you out buy making land so expensive here that your forced to pay more “
    I’m not saying this is happening to everyone but this is something not many are reporting.
    Also I live in Gulfton area and I enjoy the vast amount of cultural representation and I think that one thing we shouldn’t take away. Look at Montrose. Used to be the top gay community in the world but when gentrification hit , it just blanded the area now the majority of it is losing its vibe. I’m not a part of or even a fan of the ideology of lgbt+ but I did appreciate some of the cultural representation. I’m not the type to stay in my own bubble. So I loved seeing how others treated their neighbors and their community or how people lived their daily life. Like I’m not saying I hate gentrification because it’s has pros to it. But the cons for me personally outweighs the pros. We should embrace culture and learn to grow with it. Not destroy it and have a new Katy inside the city (hell even Katy actually has history )

  • Thank you Ed and Eastwood Resident! No one is kicking anyone out of their homes. In fact, if those long time residents choose to sell their homes, they are going to get a lot more for them now then they could a few years ago. And, most of them are run down and in need of repairs because the owners were not taking care of them. Was that due to not having enough money to do so? Probably. Does that mean they couldn’t actually afford their home. Yes. If they sell, they may have to move further out, but they will be able to actually purchase something that is not falling down around them. There is no crime here.

  • I agree with joel.
    Also I would love to live buy midtown or EaDo but the prices just keep climbing up. Why can’t we gentrify a area where the rent doesn’t go from 1000 a month to 2000 a month? And I like the idea of affordable house but many hate it. I personally like affordable housing over section 8

  • Thanks for posting that Bloomberg article. Seems to go a long way in explaining why so many new buildings look the same.

  • The article was simply making the point that the opportunity zones should be subject to some planning and input from the public to make sure that some of the investment is directed towards public housing to mitigate the burdens of rapid gentrification. That is a very practical and wise position to take on the issue. Opportunity zones and other tax incentives have too often gone to high end projects like the downtown urban living initiative or have just been tax giveaways to developers who were going to do projects with or without the incentives (yeah, you know who I am talking about). If we are going to give big money developers free stuff we should get something in return to mitigate the impact of gentrification.

  • @ Eastwood Resident, idk, maybe you haven’t been priced out of your home where you lived most of your life, and are faced with the community you love dissolving right in front of you.
    @ Ed I think Montrose and the Heights would have seen gains without gentrification. Lots of people are wising up to the notion that it is better to spend time at home than in your car commuting to work. Private ownership and rehabilitation, or flips even, would have allowed these neighborhoods to improve while keeping most of the residents at the time.

  • Opportunity zones are taking away the benefit that affordable home tax incentives give developers. I dont even know if you could double down and still get the 4% or 9% tax credit from affordable housing and also get the opportunity zone credit. If it is one or the other, then someone with a spreadsheet is going to make the decision for developers on whether their property includes an affordable housing choice. The good news is that some of this goverment funding will NOT be controlled by the corrupt TIRZ.

  • Gentrification is a mixed bag, but the answer to the undesirable aspects of gentrification isn’t to try and stop people from moving where they want to move, or building what they want to build. The answer to the problematic things about gentrification–people being priced out of their homes, mainly–is to build tons and tons of dense housing, especially in the areas which are already expensive and desirable. That’s the only way to slow down or stop rents from rising and forcing people out of their homes.

  • Gentrification… for homeowners great, for renters bad. Don’t be renter if you want to have control over your residence. If you rent you have no home, you live in someone else’s home.

  • Ignore my last comment, “Second, cities are trying to sweeten the pot by encouraging opportunity zone investors to make investments that qualify for other city economic incentives – for example, tax-increment financing, which provide financing for infrastructure, and 380 agreements, which provide property tax abatements for certain types of investments. Unlike opportunity zones, such incentives are within the control of the city (or subsidiary entities like Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones, or TIRZs). So only the city can increase the value of an opportunity zone investment by combining it with these other incentives. Nonprofit organizations such as community development corporations can combine opportunity zone investments with other tax credits such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.”

  • @GlenW no, I haven’t, but I am excited to be a part of the community’s future! I am also fortunate that I bought in Eastwood prior to the TIRZ law passing.

  • It’s fantasy to believe that homeowners in a gentrifying area happily cash out and carry a big pot of money to the suburbs or buy something else in the city. First, the suburbs are not feasible for many people, and like many, I prefer to remain in a non-flooding zone. Second, selling the current home just means spending nearly the same amount for less shelter and land if you want to stay in the neighborhood. Makes no sense. The property tax burden has increased exponentially for those in gentrified neighborhoods while incomes have stagnated. Our so-called representatives have decreased the state’s share of school funding over the years, placing increased burdens on the homeowners.

  • @Darby, the vast majority of homeowners you’re referring to are old and have property taxes capped with no kids to be seen.
    They’re not paying more into the schools just because your taxes are going up.
    And you actually answered this question in yoru below statement in saying that moving elsewhere to maintain same living standards just are feasible, at which point downsizing is indeed the wise choice – “selling the current home just means spending nearly the same amount for less shelter and land if you want to stay in the neighborhood. Makes no sense.”

  • This issue I have with gentrification/ densification inside the loop is that the infrastructure (sewer, steers, etc..) don’t get updated when an old 1930’s bungalow (or tortilla factory, or used car lot) is replaced with a high density, multistory new build. Go drive through Shady Acres sometime. Old single family homes are being flattened and converted into four-six pack look alike zero lot line town homes with insufficient parking. So a sewer system designed for 1 house now must deal with six times the equivalent. So a 25ft wide side street with ditches and no sidewalk has to deal with on-street parking both ways (and resulting mud pits)reducing the street to a 10 foot wide path. And the developers who build and sell, well they do live there so they don’t care about the impact they are having so long as they “build to code” all is good.. The worst part is CoH has encouraged this insanity via inner loop development friendly codes with no visitor parking or developer paid sewer or street improvements required.

    And the developers are crying all the way to the bank….

    Keep the Shady in Shady Acres ya’ll.

  • The alternative to gentrification isn’t that home values (and therefore tax valuations) of existing residences never go up, it’s that they go up MORE. Gentrification isn’t the cause of CAUSE of people getting priced out of a neighborhood, it’s the RESULT. And if the existing building stock isn’t replaced with higher density alternatives, then the increase in values happens even faster.
    W/r/t to infrastructure keeping up with increased density: the best indicator of the ability of a city to afford the life cycle costs of public infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, sewer/water, etc.) is property tax valuation per acre. Remember that it’s never a question of WHETHER housing gets built, but WHERE. And if we spread that housing out more, it costs more to build and maintain the infrastructure to serve it. Having higher density housing actually makes the infrastructure much more affordable. Additionally, anyone who builds something in the city needs to obtain stormwater availability and wastewater capacity reservations letters, and pay the associated impact fees before construction can begin.

  • Agree with Doghouse on this one, there’s been very little infrastructure improvement in Heights/Shady Acres/Timbergrove over the last decade. Major projects have been rebuilding West 11th Street between Studewood and Yale, and rebuilding Studewood , but that might even be longer than 10 years ago.
    The COH and Harris County have received a windfall in higher tax payments from these neighborhoods. Especially with townhome development, where a previously appraised 900 sq/ft home worth $250k with the land suddendly sprouts 6 townhomes appraised at $400k each, meaning that property now has 9x the property tax revenue stream. Yet West 20th St is still so potholed it resembles a country road in Mexico. Our district’s Council member hasn’t done much for us at all. Thankfully, she’s term-limited out next election.

  • @Joel et al, the HISD taxes are the only taxes that are frozen at the time the owner turns 65; that could be last year or it could be 10 years ago. Meanwhile, HCAD continues to mandate increased values for land and for improvements (house & garage) . (BTW, the methods of HCAD are mysterious, but a cheerful person can obtain some relief with close attention to the documents.) It makes no sense, again, to go to the trouble and financial investment of moving to a smaller property. In years past, I couldn’t understand why older people let their homes fall into disrepair, but now I do. Gentrification drives out the drivers of 15-year-old hondas and favors the wealthy.