Bellaire embracing proposed rail route
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- METRO's light rail expansion has raised controversy in some neighborhoods, where residents are dead set against rail coming near their homes. But in Bellaire, we're seeing the city embrace the idea and taking steps to develop neighborhoods along the future rail route.
In a tiny corner of Bellaire, the wild sunflowers outnumber the people. That is, until the train comes to town.
METRO's proposed line will run along Westpark and across Westlyan, Newcastle and South Rice. Next to the proposed lines is several tracts of prime Bellaire real estate. Right now, the land is used mostly for storage.
"Somewhere along here will be station," said Bellaire City Manager Bernie Satterwhite.
Satterwhite and other city planners wonder about the area's potential.
"Transit-oriented development is a term that being widely used around the country and what it is, is a mixed-use urban development surrounded around rail," said Sadderwhite.
What Satterwhite means is not just a rail station, but a whole development, like one outside of Dallas. Mockingbird Station is a place where people live, work, eat, shop and of course, ride.
Bellaire's idea is in the early stages, but the city and METRO have hired an architect to come up with a plan, the same planner who designed the heart of METRO's rail line -- downtown Main Street.
Opinions of the idea are mixed.
"The Westpark Tollway is great, so if they have more development there, that's fine with me," said resident Allen Efron, who likes the idea.
"Bellaire has always been a city of homes," said Leslie Urnovitz, who supports the rail. "And that's why it's appealing to me. I hope they can keep the integrity of that."
The only thing the city owns is the street. All of the lots nearby are privately owned. So any development would have to be done by those owners and the city couldn't make them do anything.
The Bellaire charter prevents its city from taking land through eminent domain for economic development. So now the ultimate decision will rest in the hands of Bellaire land owners.
"It may not be any more than it is and these property owners may not want it to be anymore than it is and that's up to them," said Satterwhite.
It's a future that could hold dramatic changes for a part of town that's going to get rail, whether residents are ready or not.
The city will pay the architects about $13,000 for their conceptual design.
local, laura whitley
- HISD decides fate of two schools at risk of closure 48 min ago
- Driver fleeing police kills 2 at SXSW festival 30 min ago
- Arrest made in connection to murder of two women
- HCSO: Man shoots teen inside daughter's bedroom
- Live: Watch Eyewitness News live now
- Jet aborts takeoff after gear failure in Philly 20 min ago
- 5 things you may not know about Pope Francis
- Church offering drive-through prayers
- Death toll rises to 7 in New York City blast
- Missouri City man charged in wife's death 44 min ago
- Groups protest chemicals used in Apple's iPhone
- Recognize either of these guys?
- Texans re-sign tight end Garrett Graham
- Rice hoops coach Ben Braun resigns