12 MONTROSE VOICE /MARCH 21. 1986
The First Stages in a Long-Term Project
Revitalization of Montrose Boulevard Begins
By Pete Diamond
Montrose Voice Staff Reporter
Take a drive down Montrose Boulevard
today and one thing is apparent: change.
In recent months two new shopping centers have been built, a sculpture garden
has been added, new trees have been
planted and several lots have been cleared
to build offices.
These "early" steps of change and development along Montrose are just that—the
first stages of a long-term project to revitalize a boulevard and an area that once
had a reputation of elegance. Several
homes built along Montrose more than 70
years ago remain as testimony to the
street's original grandeur.
Today, the ever-changing Montrose
Boulevard is shedding the less desirable
reputation it once had, while taking on a
stylish look that helped it become Houston's first restricted subdivision in the
early 1900s. Much of this change has been
brought about by the Montrose Project, a
non-profit group of individuals "who love
the area and want to see it reach its potential."
Operating under the wing of the South
Main Center Association, a group of individuals with similar goals who focus their
efforts on south Main Street, the Montrose
Project has moved from the initial "thinking stages" about two and a half years
ago, to receiving its state charter earlier
Like group chairman Alexandra Marshall, the people behind the project believe
Montrose Boulevard stands as an important link between downtown and the
Montrose area. They envision the Montrose Project as a way "to lengthen the
green spaces along Montrose and beautify
the connection with downtown (while)
linking it with the cultural arts institutions," such as the Children's Museum at
the north end of Montrose to the Museum
of Fine Arts where the boulevard intersects Main Street.
Between these museums lie numerous
art galleries, which, over the years, have
gradually helped Montrose become an
important area for the arts. It is this arts
orientation that must be emphasized to
further develop Montrose into a full
fledged arts district, Marshall says. To
further this effort, the Project plans to use
special district ordinancing to create the
arts district in a more formalized manner.
Unlike Montrose area civic organizations, such as the Neartown Business
Gay Pride Week
Meet on Sunday
The Houston Gay Pride Week Committee
will hold its second public meeting ofthe
year at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, March 2'.\, at the
Dignity Center, 3217 Fannin. At that time,
elections will be held to fill two vacant
Other items on the agenda include
approving the art work for this year's logo
and further clarification of this year's
The commitee has issued a notice to bid
on silk screened speciality items (t-shirts,
buttons, painters' caps) to all interested
businesses qualified to bid. Interested persons should contact. HGPW. P.O. Box
66684, zip 77266, for specifications on the
The first public parade meeting will be
April 28 after the regular meeting. Bruce
Felgar, parade chair, says that out-of-
town parade units will not be charged an
entry fee this year.
The model by University of Houston students of tke propo
t look for
Alliance or the Avondale Association,
Marshall says the Montrose Project is not
as much concerned with neighborhood
improvement as with creating an asset the
entire city can enjoy. The Project does seek
input from these and other civic groups as
well as area merchants and property
developers when planning a project along
the street, however.
The Project has already been responsible for planting some 22 live oak trees
along Montrose as an ongoing effort to
"green up" the street. Other options for
tree planting have been considered,
including clustering palm trees.
As development along the street grows
and more people are attracted to the area
both to live and shop, the availability of
adequate parking will become more important. A project currently being worked on
with Councilman George Greanias, aimed
at increasing parking and utilizing available space, is to develop parking under the
Southwest Freeway overpass at Montrose.
Construction on the project, which will
likely begin later this year, will probably
be funded through a joint effort between
the city and nearby businesses which need
However, if the esplanade is rebuilt from
Mecom Fountain to Westheimer, as some
people have suggested, it would eliminate
parking along Montrose and create a
greater demand for off-street parking.
This stretch ofthe esplanade was removed
in 1972 in the interest of less congested
traffic. It remains, however, north of Westheimer.
Other physical changes that will be
incorporated into the boulevard to help
make it more "pedestrian friendly," as
Marshall says, include installing crosswalk lights at intersections where pedestrians feel they are needed, and adding
kiosks, street furniture and decorative
street lighting. Numerous other changes
that could possibly be incorporated into
the boulevard's new look come from a 12-
foot-long model created by architecture
students at the University of Houston.
In addition to their plan for an 80-story
metal tower to be constructed at the south
end of the Hermann Park reflection pool,
the students propose numerous small,
green plazas along Montrose and a street-
front market to be built in front of the
Kroger grocery store. Such a marketing
device would not only capture the attention of passersby, but create additional
sidewalk activity for the area.
"We are promoting retail development
as well as the arts district because they are
all a part of the same fabric," Marshall
says. "We are also encouraging the inner-
city development of different types of
housing. ... To have all of these—
shopping, living and museums—within a
three block area is wonderful."
While she admits the Houston economy
is not the brightest it has ever been, Marshall optimistically looks at this period of
the city's history as one of opportunity.
"The economy can't not affect us all. It
does. But there are opportunities in every
situation and this is one to evaluate where
we are. It is a time to think about what we
are doing and what we are planning."
With the real estate market pendulum
swung to the buyer's advantage, property
owners are more inclined to keep their
holdings and make improvements on
these, Marshall says. But she adds that
the economic picture for Montrose is more
favorable than other parts ofthe city and
more alluring for investors and retailers.
"People have choices about where and
how they want to live," Marshall says.
She points out that living in Montrose,
near the city's "cultural amenities," is"an
advantage we'll have for some time coming."
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