Local

East End undergoing large revitalization project

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One of Houston's oldest neighborhoods will be getting a new look and some new life. The East End is undergoing a large revitalization project, and business owners who've been there for years are hopeful for the future.

John Kopriva is always busy. But if you can catch him, a walk with Kopriva is a walk with East End history. He grew up in the Second Ward, and since 1930, and his family has owned Kopriva Body Works.

"The infrastructure that's in place today I think is so much stronger, people realize that this is the last of the inner city developments," Kopriva said.

In front of his shop, Harrisburg used to be two lanes. It's since grown and about to change again. He hopes the METRO light rail line will bring a new access and new opportunity.

"With Minute Maid Park and Dynamo Stadium coming in, it's going to bring new people to this area and there's a lot of cultural differences out here, a lot of nice restaurants, a lot of things to see that people did not realize exist in the East End," Kopriva said.

The construction of the nearby Dynamo Stadium is also building new hope along the East End. A stadium that's within walking distance of the Marquis Downtown Lofts. The luxury lofts are inside an historic building.

"Over the last 14 to 15 months, we've seen the occupancy rise quite a bit, to 95 percent. I think there's so much more interest and buzz around the East End, that people are actually seeking out an historic building," said Julie Halsey with the Marquis Downtown.

Built in 1880 as a warehouse, the building later housed El Mercado del Sol, an East End market place that didn't survive past the 1980s. Yet the Greater East End Management District says this time revitalization will work.

What's different this time around is the East End is focusing on an area, not just one location, and the streets will look a lot better with the sidewalks being refurbished.

"People for a long time have considered the East End to be an area that's depressed, doesn't have much going on, has an old infrastructure that's out of date and full of potholes. And at this point, Harrisburg has been largely rebuilt," said Diane Schenke, president of the Greater East End Management District.

It's a new life, says Schenke, for one of Houston's oldest neighborhoods.

To show off the new developments, the Greater East End Management District will host its first ever street festival next month on Cinco de Mayo.

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