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The $700K Hughes Park project A gift that keeps on taking on a life of his own By George Boehme The initial plan seemed simple, generous and fortuitous: ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� valuable property to West University Place for use as a passive park to honor his mother, along with a healthy $200,000 bequest to develop it. Now that act, though, has evolved into a complicated — and controversial —$700,000 project that is leaving some wondering if the original spirit of the donation is being honored. When James Hughes’ deeded the property purchased by his mother, Jennie Elizabeth Hughes, to the city, he envisioned a few park benches and a picnic table, to give the neighborhood where he lived most of his life a quiet and needed greenspace. Jennie Elizabeth, a single woman and executive secretary, had purchased the two West U lots at 6446 Sewanee in the 1920s for $975, and after marrying, she and her husband built the home that still stands there, where they raised their family. Today, the Harris County Appraisal District places the property’s value at $1.6 million. PROPERTY • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Harvey brings home sales momentum to a halt August was on track to be a robust month for home sales in West University when the momentum was derailed by Hurricane Harvey. The result was nearly a 30 percent decline in sales numbers over August 2016. Still, 25 homes were sold at a healthy $1,496,450 average price before the storm halted all activity. ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������- ton market in nearly a year, causing a 25.4 percent decline in ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������- ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� of the storm are determined. As in West U, though, despite the decline in sales, Houston-area prices remained strong, a possible indication that the market could rebound. Mixed blessing: Better drainage, snarled ������������������������������������������������������������������������ Work has resumed on the long-stalled drainage improvements �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� under the auspices of the Upper Kirby District, creating predict- �������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� focusing on the outside lanes of the roadway, but the contractor was seeking approval from the city of Houston to work on both sides of the roadway between Kirby and Wakeforest concurrently. “Due to the preservation of existing medians on this project, ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������- ings,” the UK district explained in an advisory. “In many cases, a longer construction zone is less disruptive than an awkward transition from one side of the road to the other through these openings.” The work, which also included improvements on Kirby near Bissonnet, was suspended for months after a dispute with the original contractor that required re-advertising and selecting a new contractor. Questions or concerns about the project can be directed to Travis Younkin, travis@upperkirby.org, 713-524-8000. Page 15 WEST U ESSENTIALS SINGLE FAMILY SALES AVERAGE PRICE WEST U PROPERTIES AUGUST 2016 AUGUST 2017 35 25 $1,328,693 $1,496,450 Change -28.6 percent +12.6 percent Getting the most attention in the costly redevelopment plan — a result of one ad hoc citizens’ task force and two standing volunteers commitees’ brainstorming — is a potential $100,000 �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Already White Oak has earned $43,000 for facilitating several community meetings and preparing the initial plan, seen on the cover of this edition of Essentials. The ������������������������������������������������- er $56,000, earmarked in the preliminary budget, for overseeing “construction” of the park. Other eyebrow-raising line items: A brick fence, budgeted at $150,000, a shaded patio at $100,000, and $40,000 for a push-button water stream.


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