Houston’s East End, Fifth Ward getting $310M park, revitalization project

Project seeded with $100M from Richard and Nancy Kinder, expected to take 10 years

Rich and Nancy Kinder; rendering of Buffalo Bayou East (Kinder Foundation, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Getty)
Rich and Nancy Kinder; rendering of Buffalo Bayou East (Kinder Foundation, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Getty)

Houston’s long neglected East End and Fifth Ward neighborhoods are getting a $310 million park and urban revitalization project.

The Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan will connect the two heavily Hispanic and African–American communities via new parks, walking, cycling trails, cultural destinations and affordable housing, the Houston Business Journal and other local outlets reported.

The project will be overseen by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, a non-profit organization that is backed by local foundations, corporations, government agencies, and individuals.

The organization has managed the construction of parks, and bike and hike trails along the bayou that goes through downtown Houston is heading Buffalo Bayou East, which will take 10 years to complete.

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The project was seeded with a $100 million donation from Richard and Nancy Kinder, one of Houston’s richest couples. Richard Kinder, a former president and COO of Enron, founded Kinder Morgan, an energy and pipeline company after he left the scandal-plagued company in 1996. The Kinder Foundation has donated millions to Houston’s efforts to build and maintain the city’s parks along with other donations to other city institutions over the past decade.

The remaining $210 million will come from the city of Houston, Harris County, the federal government, private investors, and possibly the state of Texas.

The revitalization of the East End of Houston was kicked off with the Houston Astros’ move to their new ballpark in 2002. The neighborhood around the ballpark was renamed EaDo and over the years, bars, restaurants, apartments, townhomes, and Houston’s light rail sprouted near the east side of Houston’s downtown.

The development of Houston’s east end is pushing further with speculative projects looking to transform the industrial neighborhood into hip walkable neighborhoods, along with a $9 billion highway expansion.

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