Shifting the Gentrification Conversation in Third Ward; Mercer Botanic Gardens’ Post-Flood Return


Photo of White Oak Music Hall: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


34 Comment

  • Re: subsidised housing
    I never understood how mixing Market Rate units and Section 8 units in the same complex would work? Who in their right mind would pay Market Rate to live in the same complex as, let’s be blunt “those people”. If anything I would demand a substantial discount off the rent to compensate for the “deficiency” of the complex as compared to others in the area.

  • Re: Triple A Restaurant closure
    I’m going to miss them! Visiting there was a step back in time with the retro paneling and decor but the food was always satisfying and delicious. I hope they can relocate if they can’t work something out.

  • I am a student at UH, and live near the 3rd Ward. I know people that have been involved in shootouts in that horrible neighborhood, people that have been assaulted by that neighborhood’s residents, and hate driving through that area. So, with that said, I hope the whole 3rd Ward gets razed to the ground and its residents replaced by much better citizens. The 3rd Ward’s history is horrible, and we’d be extremely lucky to make that area better.

  • @Commonsense
    What exactly does a Section 8 person look like? Do they wear armbands with a big 8 on them? What does a Section 8 unit look like? Are they the units that have peeling paint on their doors?
    The reality is that both a “Section 8 person/family” and a “Section 8 unit” don’t look a whole lot different than their counterparts. All the units types are practically the same, some are just subsidized. In fact maybe rents should have a premium for those who aren’t low income since they get the unique opportunity to live in a diverse atmosphere rather than a homogenous enclave.
    Would you rather we go back to concentrated poverty? That worked out great, didn’t it? [insert sarcastic tone]

  • @JJ, it is PC but false to say Section 8 is same as any other community. My wife’s extended family lives in subsidized housing so I get to witness it more than I’d like. The complex suffers from a lot of deferred maintenance, inside units are not taken care of, holes in the walls, pest infestations, cars in the parking lot that are worth less than the shiny rims that they flaunt, parties and domestic disturbances at all hours of the day. You may think these are stereotypes, but these are realities, and some of these maladies would follow such residents to ANY subsidized unit.

    What does “unique opportunity to live in a diverse atmosphere” even mean? How is that beneficial in any way to me? Do I need to witness daily reminders of urban blight to stroke my white guilt or something?

    3rd Ward is actually trying to KEEP concentrated poverty by fighting actively tooth and nail against Gentrification per another article above. If they want to keep it, it’s not my problem.

  • Fighting gentrification may keep out a wealthier ilk but at the cost of NEIGHBORHOOD!
    In my mind, neighborhood is everything. Money does not buy it.
    If any citizenry can come together to hold the 3rd Ward together as a neighborhood, Houston can. Houston has such a strong afro-american past (and present).
    Keep it up – I applaud you.

  • #grabyourpopcorn this thread is going to be gud.

  • Keeping our cultural heritage from a politician = Keeping my voting base

    Its the same argument in 5th ward as in 3rd ward. We dont want change, everything was great before these new townhomes got here, people were friendly and neighborly…. trust us… dont look into the 80s and 90s.

  • gentrification:
    Segregation is a thing of the past. Segregation is and was bad. Why do we want to hide the continuation of segregation behind the dirty word ‘gentrification’? All it does is mask segregation behind another name, in the spirit of ‘not changing things’. Wasn’t that what the white people of the 50s and 60s were trying to do? Not change things? They liked things the way they were.
    Let’s stop calling it gentrification, cause all that is happening is continuing desegregation that was started by people back in the 50s and 60s.
    If we are to be one people we need to do everything we can to continue to fight to integrate. We integrated water fountains, and schools, and buses, we need to take the final step. To do that, it means that gentrification is not a bad word, it’s a word that means integration and continues the dream that MLK had.

  • The third ward doesn’t want me there and I’ve never wanted to be there. The universe is in harmony.

  • How does Garnet Coleman get away with taking Midtown TIRZ $ earmarked for affordable housing, presumably in MIDTOWN, and use it to bank land for affordable housing, in 3RD WARD instead? Isn’t this clearly misappropriation of funds based on a racial/geographic bias?
    Are do we just applaud him like this article is doing for being crooked in an open, politically correct way?

  • @Commonsense
    It’s not PC, it’s just called being a decent human being focused on the one thing that really matters. Join me someday, maybe you’ll understand what a “unique opportunity to live in a diverse atmosphere” means :)

  • News flash. The unemployment figures across the entire country are skewed, not just in Houston. This has been the case since 2009 when the federal government stopped recording the amount of people who simply exhausted their unemployment benefits. Government smoke and mirrors at its best.

  • Before i go into my GENTRIFICATION SPIEL, i am a product of the historic 5th WARD! Now…
    1. In the 1950s 3rd ward was entirely WEALTHY WHITE JEWS!
    2. 1 BLACK family moved in, in the 1960s and it was White Flight to the west after that family recieved several threats including a bomb to move.
    3. Now that whites are in their cushy suburbs free from us BLACKS and us free from them, in order to get to their new 25 miles away home had built massive freeways through NOW BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS, thus displacing thousands.
    4. Now the 70s and here comes the good ole reagan admin, and the pumping of thousands of tons of CRACK/COCAINE into the black communities, the beginning of MASS INCARCERATION of BLACKS. On top of the already extreme lack of involvement from city service and HISD, the communities and its schools feel into disarray while river oaks and memorial flourished.
    5. Now were in the present after damn near 40 years of neglect while being right next to downtown, here comes gentrification because Whitey got mad he moved to Katy and wants to move close in cause hes tired of i10 traffic!
    6. Now he is saying that our community the one they chose to come to when they chose to attend UH is rundown, crime ridden, and impoverished. And yet crime in 5th 3rd ward are at HISTORIC LOWS!
    7. So they say lets move in so we can have our bland lives in a $400,000 condo and skyrocket property values so that THE ICKY BLACK PEOPLE are forced out, but really slick and unnoticeable like!
    8.Why GENTRIFICATION is utter stupidity, quality housing stock is ever present in 3rd ward. However on white guy mives in and can actually afford a remodel and local prices jump thru the roof, when they didnt have to which could make a neighborhood of all people full of vitality!
    9. But no BLACKS gotta go after leaving us in a dump, we embraced it made it ours, and you coniving people snatched it back!

    And please dont try and say its our fault we are extremely disenfranchised as a people and being BLACK you have to work 5x as hard to get half as far as any white can!

  • @Dana – Cant blame Midtown. They paid to get rid of Goverment Housing but unfortunately they are not as socioeconomically diversified as 3rd ward now.

  • It’s sad somebody wants to use YourLocalEnvironmentalist to represent themselves, but then say so much against an environment. just by that shows some environmental ignorance and whatever education you’re getting at UH neglecting. Get your head out of just a book for your so called environmentalism and you might truly know what it is that environment is and what all those environments similar with a strong connection to history are about and how they got to the good and bad, but basically bad that you only want to see since you can’t find your relationship in that environment. You might want to check your general studies, again, to see if you’re studying what you should be.

  • Oh spare us the victimization spiel Adoile. There is so much wrong with your conspiracy theories and just in case you haven’t heard,
    calling people “whitey “is no different than someone referring to you as , well pick the epithet of your choice.

  • @ Adoile: When the 3rd Ward was a functional political jurisdiction, it comprised the part of Houston east of Main Street and south of Harrisburg. That included portions of what we now call Downtown and Midtown as well as neighborhoods like Eastwood which were marketed as the upper-middle-class master-planned communities of their day, Riverside which was heavily populated by Jews, and the smaller area that we now call 3rd Ward which had been marked on old Sanborn Insurance maps as “negro settlement”. Your characterization of the definition and historical or present identity of the 3rd Ward lacks accuracy or precision.

  • @Toasty, I’m ROFL’ing
    I can understand you typing out that nonsense for the fun of it, but do you really seriously believe that income segregation is the same thing as ‘integration’?

  • @Adoile – I would tend to agree with your statement other than since the mid 2000s the focus has shifted from color of skin to economic status. People moving into these townhome communities tend to be more diverse than the groups you see in Katy or other suburban areas. Although i understand some of your frustration, when speaking about low income housing some people use the term “Those people” which can mean what you are saying.

    The only point of yours i would add more to would be the crime stat. If you look at the age range of people living in 5th ward, crime has been low because of the age gap. OGs are in jail or too old to commit crime. Youngsters are committing petty crimes now (Car Break-ins…etc) As that age group comes up, i hope they find an outlet so we dont see the repeat of the 80s and 90s.

  • @Adoile, that’s a long tirade that boils down to the same old tired excuse of “it’s someone else’s fault”

    The Jews were persecuted for centuries, almost wiped out less than 100 years ago, and are still persecuted to this day, and of course they live in poverty … oh wait, they don’t

    Asians came here to build the railroads, rounded up into ghettos (china town) and man, do they have so many obstacles to get good education … oh wait, they don’t

    Latin American recent immigrants, don’t speak English, looked down upon many citizens, man do they blame everybody around them, instead of working hard, an improving the neighborhood around them .. oh wait, they don’t

    The Concentrated Poverty is all on you buddy, you made that. You choose to live in neighborhoods of Self Segregation.

  • Adoile, I don’t know where to begin, but I guess a geography lesson should be number 1.
    The 3rd ward that pretty much everyone thinks of (these days at least, it used to be bigger) has its heart at Dowling and McGowen. All of the white population lived near Brays Bayou (various religions, but because the Jewish temple was in the area, they lived there too, and in higher percentages). The entirety of the white population that lived in that area did indeed run away because they were bigots and racists.
    On to the real 3rd ward. To suggest that the real 3rd ward was historically filled with white racists is to suggest that racist white people created a park 144 years ago for black people to celebrate the emancipation of their people from slavery. That is laughable. The real history is that 3rd ward has always been a black community created in a time of segregation. As a result that area has historically always been segregated. White people did not live there in the 60s.
    That is the real geography/history. The question is though, why do you want to continue with segregation? To suggest that certain people shouldn’t live somewhere based on the color of their skin is exactly the definition of segregation, and is nothing more than racism.
    Can’t we all do our best to finish what was started more than half a century ago with the civil rights movement. Let’s finish segregation together.

  • I’m glad my comment got most of y’all riled up, clearly it’s sum truth behind it! oh wait it’s all truth! look everything I posted up and you will find it its even info in the book Houston Freeways! and I never said whites can’t return I’m all for inclusion and diverse community! however the guise of GENTRIFICATION, is not bringing development back to a blighted community it’s people of higher social class (majority whites) coming into a neighborhood in search of something real and new and in turn displace all of that real culture with 500K matchboxes! and @JT for you to call them conspiracy theories is laughable and just proves my statement further cause anyone denying systemic racism against blacks is no better than a person who denies the holocaust!
    -for every freed slave masters recieved $300, while emancipated slaves recieved nothing after being promised 40 acres and a mule.
    -for every $1 a white family has a black family has .10c and that’s been since the 70’s.
    -in 1865 BLACKS owned .5% of the US national wealth, in 1990 we managed to get to 1% after over 130 years.
    -redlining from 1870s to the 1950s blocked BLACKS from getting loans for anything, house, business or vehicles!

    so let me ask EVERYONE, whose fault is it that BLACKS are in last place socially, oh no need because it’s clearly INSTITUTIONAL RACISM? any conspiracies here JT?

  • and for your name to be commonsense you don’t have much, and I find it laughable that your always the first to comment and yet nothing you ever suggest gets done! I’m not blaming the issues of my community on the whites of today, however y’all aren’t doing much to stop it anyhow. but let me school you, yes other races have had it hard if not harder, but let me explain the difference! THOSE RACES were allowed to have upward mobility after hard work and didn’t have to ask for it! now let’s move to my people, who for over 170 years have been begging just for an equal opportunity have been denied and don’t bring up laws because the law is the reason blacks are crammed into ghettos till this day and the reason every inner city black school is considered a drop out factory! we are locked into last place as a people we can’t move upward even if we wanted to! now let me ask why if we’ve been here so long is our situation so bad compared to newer ethnicities coming here? oh it’s because black people are lazy, after WORKING FOR FREE over 400 years for the truly lazy ones! I can do this all day, and I got RECIEPTS!

  • It always amazes me that people go “there is no systematic racism, these people picked the bed they sleep in” and then in the same thought say “they should accept the system that forces them all out of their neighborhoods and into new neighborhoods and new homes because that’s how the system is supposed to work”. That’s the definition of systematic/institutional racism. Also, some of you are straight up racist, and no amount of explaining away will justify or rationalize what you said. Props to you Adoile for telling it like it is.

  • “The Concentrated Poverty is all on you buddy, YOU MADE THAT. You choose to live in neighborhoods of Self Segregation.”

  • @joel, adoile obviously thinks so.
    gentrification is a word that has been created to vilify anyone who moves to an area and changes the makeup of that neighborhood. It’s veiled with ‘income’ and ‘pricing people out of their homes’, but the reality is that mostly it’s people who enjoy the culture they have in a place and don’t want to change. In the case of 3rd ward specifically, it is very historically black. It’s true people of all backgrounds are moving there, but a lot are non-black people.
    You can read what they are writing about what they want to preserve in the 3rd ward, and if you read that about a predominantly white community, the first thing anyone would think would be ‘that’s racist!’. and it absolutely is. racism hiding behind the veil of gentrification.

  • @Adoile, you still haven’t said a single thing that says anything but “it’s someone else’s fault”.
    Who’s not allowing black community to go out there and succeed? Who?
    I don’t buy your premise simply by observing many Asian new immigrants with no English and zero money, routinely rise to business owners within a single generation.

  • I don’t know anybody in modern america who takes the words of NIMBY folks like this at face value. And notably, we’re all calling out the spade as we see it here. It’s just double talk. I really doubt this is about history, community or neighborhood values as much as it is about money. This is Houston and the location of your housing highly correlates with your odds of success; it’s about money. And, that gets at the crux of the issue. You show these folks another place they can move to with similar access to jobs and education and I guarantee the vast majority will happily move along.
    Gentrification was a word created in the same manner every word in the english language has been. However, it’s culture that provides the word with it’s preconceptions. The reason gentrification is a loaded term is it explains how the civil rights movement has been a massive failure in many areas in america. Civil rights movement was about equal opportunity in addition to those silly things we call freedoms.
    Gentrification in itself should be a positive force in any city. It increases investment, development and tax revenues. In theory, that added tax revenue should help create a rising tide and bring more people out of poverty by creating more infrastructure and opportunities to help those that need it most (because a city’s supply of an educated and mobile workforce is directly correlated with it’s incomes for all citizens at every pay grade). Obviously that isn’t happening with our quickly shrinking middle class in all major cities in america. These people will be pushed outside the loop into areas that will NOT see any increases in infrastructure and educational spending. They will have less access to good jobs and once again they will be relegated to parts of town with next to no investment potential (yes, notably not physically forced and threatened like last time). These people aren’t dumb. The statistics and facts as they are say they should be fighting gentrification so I certainly can’t blame them to do everything within their power to get organized and to try and persuade public opinion. There’s a lot on the line.
    I can understand if you don’t like the word gentrification and what it insinuates, but it does accurately represent some of the most notable failures in american society since the post WWII time period.

  • commonsense. Normally you’re amusing, but you’re just annoying on topics like this and your desperation shows. If you need @Adoile to show you responsible and successful people from our black community then you probably need to get outside a bit more. I know a lot more have come from 3rd ward than Bacliff, that’s for sure.
    If you have a point to prove then why don’t you just do it. Show me the statistics on social mobility for different population groups separated by race and income.
    Also, you do realize the average asian immigrant has more money and education than your average Houstonian in poverty, right? Where on earth are you finding these statistics that show new immigrants arriving with less income and education compared to americans raised in poverty? Because you keep trying to make false equivalencies that have nothing to do with the issue at hand the onus is on you to prove your point.

  • Now all that being said, aren’t there some simple and easy compromises at hand for all parties involved. Say, gentrifying districts are awarded TIRZs to ensure any increased property / sales tax revenue are skimmed off the top and re-invested in dense, affordable housing until it can accommodate a similar sized population as that of the pre-existing one. I’m primarily interested in the health of a city over that of individual neighborhoods and that would provide the most benefit to the city and it’s citizens. I’m willing for the city to invest some money inefficiently in such a manner if it can help alleviate inter-generational and concentrated poverty.

  • Joel, you’re right. Gentrification can be a huge boon to the residents of a neighborhood. It can also suck.
    What I don’t like is a crusade. Much like what was done in the Heights to try and stop the walmart from being built. hiding their obvious distrust of people who shop at walmart, and what they imagined that would do to their community behind traffic complaints, flooding, bridges. Everything and anything they could think of to stop the nasty walmart from being built anywhere near where they live. This is the same type of crusade.

  • @Toasty, Oh it always sucks for sure, but it’s a necessary evil for the health of any city and it’s neighborhoods. I’m sure there are some bad apples with different intentions, but the vast majority of everything I’m reading about the 3rd ward is that their “crusade” is all about doing everything they can to retain as much land for affordable housing in the area as they can. I’m not seeing anything about stopping development outright, but trying to encourage what it can become through legal means. Haven’t seen them lawyering up and threatening the city to stop all developments and jeopardize $MM in taxpayer revenue like the Southampton folks were so intent on doing.
    Now if they were like the Heights or Southampton advocating for a boring but aesthetically pleasing suburb in the middle of a large growing city I’d obviously take issue with such an ignorant and selfish goal. Trying to hoard land and restrict it for dense affordable housing on the other hand is a very laudable goal that would actually be healthy for the city. If reserving land for affordable housing means they’re indirectly dictating who can and can’t develop and move in the neighborhood? Well, that’s not on them but the land owners.

  • Fighting gentrification is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. What is so wrong with your neighborhood becoming more desirable and going up in value?? What is wrong with selling the house your grandma bought for less than $5k for $150,000 and moving to the burbs. Is there something that horrible about moving to a great school with white kids, hispanics, asians, and other successful blacks that made the move years ago?? Is their something wrong with moving into a house built in the last 15 years with twice the square footage of your 1950s house?

    What do you want? Do you want a desirable neighborhood that comes with higher taxes and the ‘white scourge’? Or do you want a poor neighborhood with crime and limited opportunities? Or do you want a desirable neighborhood with only blacks? Fat chance at that because the well off blacks were the FIRST to leave. An the ones that have built their own new wealth are the FIRST to say ‘i wont move there’.

    Spare me the crying about the loss of neighborhoods. Old classic neighborhoods are dying everywhere.