Three struggling Inner City submarkets identified as “community reinvestment areas” by the City of Houston Housing & Community Development are getting quite the boost—$2.3 billion of public and private investment.


We snapped part of the HCD real estate and public information teams—Stedman GrigsbyJocklynn KevilleRyan Bibbs, director Neal RackleffBrittany Hyman and Joel North—that do some of the most complicated real estate development financing in town, all geared toward revitalizing neighborhoods, supporting affordable housing and creating jobs. In the past five years, HCD has built 7,400 multifamily units (usually providing gap financing so developers can include affordable units) and 115 public service facilities like libraries. It’s decided to focus its efforts on a few specific neighborhoods to really make an impact, rather than doing scattered projects across town.

HCD used info from civic and super neighborhood groups, fair housing advocates, and public officials from HUD and the City of Houston on property values, permits filed, utility turnoffs and owner occupancy to ID its three community reinvestment areas. The team selected struggling neighborhoods on the edge of revitalization and focused not just on building up infrastructure and adding amenities, but also on preserving affordable housing as the areas gentrify. It’s financing five multifamily projectstotaling 1,088 units—882 of which are affordable—in these three areas. Neal (an avid skateboarder) tells us all those developments are transformative projects on light rail/public transportation. The neighborhoods:

1. Near Northside


Funding: $1.2B of public and private investment planned or recently completed

Improvements: The extension of the light rail’s Red Line is complete in the neighborhood, there’s $14M of infrastructure improvements underway, and UH Downtown just completed $30M of work. HCD is providing financing for the Avenue Station multifamily development in Near Northside and is working to close the Residences at Hardy Yards. The $13M Avenue Station project is getting $5.5M from HCD and will have 55 affordable units and 13 market rate. The Residences at Hardy Yards is part of the estimated $300M redevelopment of Hardy Yards, which Neal says will change Downtown. The Residences will have 179 affordable housing units and 171 market rate. The price tag: $57M, including $15M from HCD.

2. Greater Fifth Ward


Funding: $345M of public and private investment planned or recently completed

Improvements: There’s a wide variety of development in the Fifth Ward, and soon you’ll hardly recognize the area. Wheatley High School was reconstructed in ’06, and the County did a $1M rehab of Finnegan Park. Coming soon are the Deluxe Theatre, Pleasant Hill Village Apartments and an $8M library, not to mention the massive redevelopments of the MDI and KBR sites. (On the former, Frank Liu did the only privately remediated superfund site in the US.) HCD is working with Frank to reconstruct infrastructure around MDI to alleviate neighborhood flooding and spur revitalization so he can start developing faster. HBD is also providing $12M for his Bayou Fifth affordable housing community. That’ll feature 164single-family homes and townhomes managed like one multifamily project. Neal’s team is also involved in the $30M rehab of Cleme Manor’s 284 affordable units.

3. Old Spanish Trail/South Union


Funding: $733M of public and private investment planned or recently completed

Improvements: Recently, the Park at Palm Center and Houston Texans YMCA were completed, and the light rail’s Purple Line will soon be rolling through the neighborhood. HCD helped finance the $11M renovation ofZollie Scales Apartments, and is funding the Village at Palm Centermixed-use community (rendered above, we wrote all about it here). There’s also an $11M library planned in the neighborhood.