Students plan to revitalize forgotten area

May 1, 2013 3:54:02 PM PDT
Some local college students have big ideas for a part of southeast Houston and they are hoping the city will help them bring their ideas to life.

University of Houston students want to use empty lots in the area around the Almeda Mall to revitalize that neighborhood. The students were tasked with developing a plan to revitalize this area, to bring people back near the Almeda Mall, which 30 and 40 years ago was vibrant and alive.

Houston's Almeda Mall is surrounded now by businesses that once were. It is lined with shuttered storefronts and empty parking lots. Fourth and fifth year architecture students from the University of Houston see it, however, as so much more.

UH architecture student Scott Daley said, "The idea is to take kind of the defunct landscape that was left by the previous occupants and adapt it to work with the new occupancy."

The students have come up with plans to better utilize the space, to make it more attractive not only to those living nearby but to those who might come to visit.

It's an area nearly devoid of public green space currently. So the proposals offer variations on park space and walkways.

Student Jose Pedroza's futuristic plan incorporates a type of mesh that would surround residential towers, linking them for pedestrians.

"It would really bring more life and more walkability to Houston, something that we don't see a lot," he said.

Other plans include construction of a skate park, rock wall, outdoor theater and art studios. UH professor Susan Rogers pushes students to develop something that will result in positive change in Houston communities. She says this project is about bringing people back to this area.

"It becomes a place that works, meaning that people want to go there," Rogers said. "Things to do, things to see, things to participate in, things to experience -- I think that's the really the goal."

Rogers and her class hope they can convince developers who might invest in this area that it's still worth doing so.

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