Business and community leaders in northwest Houston are working on several improvement plans for the region.
In January, trees will be planted along Cypress Creek Parkway at the end of shopping centers to beautify the region, said Bill Mehrens, president of the Cypress Creek Parkway Property and Business Owners Association. "A few shopping centers have some trees and others don't have anything, just asphalt," Mehrens said. "We're trying to soften that up a little."
It's part of a multifaceted regional improvement plan by northwest Houston business and community leaders. The tree planting was one of the suggestions in the Cypress Creek Livable Centers study that focused on the area of Cypress Creek Parkway, also known as FM 1960 West, and the intersections of Kuykendahl Road and Ella Boulevard.
The plan calls for creating an effective use of space that includes transforming abandoned shopping centers, and underused parking lots into green space, and thriving and aesthetically pleasing economic centers; adding trees and sidewalks along the corridor for walkability and helping to create future building and design standards for the corridor.
"These are kind of baby steps to start to get funding," said Mehrens, whose company, SClay Management Inc, owns three shopping centers along Cypress Creek Parkway and Kuykendahl Road. "Something where people can visually see we're trying to do something as opposed to just talking about it."
The Ponderosa Forest Utility District has agreed to provide water for the trees and they are trying to get other utilities on board to help also.
The stakeholders group, which consists of the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce, the Ponderosa Forest Utility District and the Cypress Creek Parkway Property and Business Owner's Association, was awarded a $125,000 grant from the H-GAC in 2014 to conduct the livable centers study.
In another move to get improvements moving along, this summer, the stakeholder group has arranged with Metro to put large identifying leaf stickers on bus stops along Cypress Creek Parkway.
In addition, the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce has raised more than $500,000 in its campaign to better brand the community and expand economic development, said Barbara Thomason, president of the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce.
The Grow Northwest capital campaign launched more than a year ago with the goal of raising $3.2 million to address community issues such as community branding, safety and security and economic development.
The Grow Northwest campaign encompasses all of Northwest Houston, not just improvements along Cypress Creek Parkway.
As part of the capital campaign, new signs to identify Cypress Creek neighborhoods will be installed before the end of the year.
The chamber will start with two signs bookending the Cypress Creek Cultural District. The signs are expected to be installed by the end of the year.
Other signs will be installed as additional funds are raised. The signs will say "Cypress Creek Community" and will then include an identifier such as Gleannloch Farms, Champions or Klein.
To help with funding, the chamber is working to add a fundraising component to utility bills in the region, asking area businesses and residents to contribute $2 for the branding campaign through their utility bills.
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