Houston Business Journal, October 10, 2018
The Urban Land Institute has selected a local park and an affordable housing project as winners of an international and a national award, respectively.
Houston’s Levy Park along with Madrid Rio Park in Spain were named the winners of ULI’s Urban Open Space award, which recognizes “public spaces that have socially enriched and revitalized the economy of their surrounding communities,” according to a press release. Although landscape architecture and urban design are considered, the award is judged on broader criteria such as the projects’ overall performance and how each impacted or revived their surrounding areas. The organizations responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the winning park spaces will receive a cash prize.
The nearly 6-acre Levy Park, designed by Houston’s OJB Landscape Architecture, now features a 40,000-square-foot children’s garden, a 7,500-square-foot rain garden, a 43,000-square-foot event lawn and a 2,500-square-foot multipurpose performance space as well as an American with Disabilities Act–compliant accessible tree house platform. In addition to the park, the surrounding property also now features an apartment complex and an office building with ground-floor restaurants.
The ULI notes that the $15 million redevelopment of the 77-year-old park, spearheaded by the Upper Kirby Redevelopment Authority, has boosted visitors from just 75 per week in previous years to more than 10,000 per week now.
“The jury found Levy Park to be a dynamic public-private partnership that was unique in how it was structured,” ULI trustee and jury chairman Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of the Ackerberg Group, said in the release. “The park is architecturally very strong and executed extremely well, and it provides appealing programming and amenities that benefit the entire Houston community.”
Separately, ULI also announced that Avenue Place/Avenue Terrace in Houston was named one of five winners of its 2018 Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award, according to a separate release. Developments are judged based on affordability, innovative financing and building technologies, proximity to employment centers and transportation hubs, quality of design, involvement of public/private partnerships, and replicability of the development.
Avenue Community Development Corp. — known as Avenue CDC — is behind Avenue Place and Avenue Terrace in Houston’s Near Northside, a predominantly Hispanic, working-class neighborhood just north of downtown Houston. The $45 million affordable housing community was built on a 20 acre site, formerly a FedEx truck depot.
Avenue Place consists of 95 three- and four-bedroom homes priced from $194,000 to $254,000, while Avenue Terrace consists of 144 apartment units. Houston-based homebuilder Lazer Development LLC and Austin-based architect Northfield Design Associates Inc. worked on Avenue Place.