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Mayor and County Judge announce final round of Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund grants

HOUSTON – The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is disbursing its final round of grants for aid and services to local flood victims, bringing the total of distributed charitable donations to $113.6 million to assist about 190,000 households through 124 experienced and carefully selected non-profit organizations.

The fifth and final round of $3 million is going to 17 non-profits groups that will provide furniture, cash assistance and other basic needs and case management to qualified victims.

The Fund was established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in 2017 to provide immediate, medium and long-term disaster relief. It is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

“The effects of Harvey will be felt for years to come,” added County Judge Ed Emmett. “These local nonprofit grantees have strong track records of supporting our communities. We’re confident that they can make a real difference in the longer term.”

“It’s been over a year since Harvey, but there is still work that needs to be done to help people get back on their feet,” Mayor Turner said. “This last round of funding strengthens our communities and supports recovery across the city.”

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Early voting set for Senate candidates

Early voting has started in Harris County, for a candidate to replace Sylvia Garcia in the state Senate, District 6. Candidates include Democratic State Representatives Ana Hernandez and Carol Alvarado, Democrat Mia Mundy, and Republican Martha Fierro.

The County Clerk has posted the following times and locations for Early Voting:

Hours of Operation
Unofficial – Pending Approval

December 3rd – December 7th
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

VOTING LOCATIONS:

6. Galena Park Library
1500 Keene Street
Galena Park, TX 77547

7. John Phelps Courthouse
101 South Richey Street
Pasadena, TX 77506

8. Harris County Scarsdale Annex
10851 Scarsdale Boulevard
Houston, TX 77089

9. Baytown Community Center
2407 Market Street
Baytown, TX 77520

1. County Attorney Conference Center
1019 Congress
Houston, TX 77002

2. Moody Park Community Center
3725 Fulton Street
Houston, TX 77009

3. Ripley House Neighborhood Center
4410 Navigation Boulevard
Houston, TX 77011

4. HCCS Southeast College
6960 Rustic Street
Houston, TX 77087

5. Hardy Senior Center
11901 West Hardy Road
Houston, TX 77076

Mattress Mack provides free Turkey dinners to families

Jim “Mattress Mack” (left), along with Astros stars Alex Bregman and Max Stassi, provided Thanksgiving meals for needy families.

About 500 turkeys were distributed to families in need on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Gallery Furniture location on 6006 North Freeway.

“It’s part of our continuing responsibility for the well-being of the community and having Alex here just makes it that much better. People like him. He’s a very likable guy, great ballplayer and a great role model for all of us,” Mattress Mack said.

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Eastex Fire Dept. sends help to combat California wildfires

EASTEX FIREFIGHTERS that went to California to help fight wildfires included, L to R, EO Jeremy Shaw, Capt. Mark Houge, EO Matthew Horrigan, and Capt. Justin DuBois.

A tired group of four firefighters from the Eastex Fire Department returned to Houston last Wednesday, after 10 days in California and on the road, helping contain the blazes ravaging the state.

The Eastex department was one of 40 departments from Texas, involving 200 firefighters, that traveled to California as part of a national “mutual aid” system administered by the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Departments that participated in a convoy from Katy to Los Angeles included Eastex, Baytown, Conroe, Forest Bend, Fulshear-Simonton, Galveston, Needham, New Waverly, Porter, Webster, and Willis.

The Eastex crew was assigned to the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, northwest of Los Angeles.

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Why businesses move to the North Houston District

North Houston District Chairwoman and Transwestern Executive Vice President Michelle Wogan, Meridian Energy Group Vice President John Cloward, Texas Children’s Hospital Business Operations Manager Rodney David, Newmark Knight Frank Executive Managing Director Rob Stillwell, Emser Tile Vice President Mark Comstock host a tenant roundtable to discuss what major tenants look for regarding industrial space in Houston. (Photo credit: Bisnow/Tierra Smith)

Local and new tenants join panel on relocating and growth

Approximately 150 guests gathered at the City North Conference Center for the Bisnow Commercial Real Estate Event (CRE) co-hosted by the North Houston District and Lincoln Property Company on October 4.

Bisnow, an online CRE trade publication with 17,000 subscribers in Houston, was a strategic partner in the planning of the event and hosts CRE events all over the country and internationally, focusing on topics related to the developments in key markets.

The first panel included area tenants and representatives from Emser Tile, Meridian Energy Group, Texas Children’s Center for Women and Children and Conn’s Distribution Center. From affordability, accessibility to customers and proximity to the airport, guest speakers shared their reasons for moving or expanding their businesses to the District.

“Why do business here?” Emser Tile’s vice president of real estate, Mark Comstock asked, “Because it’s easy,” referring to Houston’s license and permit process. In addition, a second panel of experts discussed the impact of oil and gas on commercial real estate.

Want to invest in industrial assest in Houston? One answer is to build near the Grand Parkway

By Tierra Smith

Unlike the office industry, the industrial sector was able to stabilize under the oil downturn due to the expansion of the petrochemical industry in Houston. It had a transformative effect, Austin Industries Vice President Russell Carter said. Fracking and other energy-related technological advances led to the decoupling of natural gas and crude oil prices, which spurred demand and expansion within the petrochemical industry and its related suppliers. “The long-term supply of natural gas in North American because of shale gas and fracking has changed the global dynamics,” he said. “Houston sits at the epicenter of what the impact is going to be.” And now, offshore drilling is making a recovery. Within the next two months, the major oil and energy companies will begin finalizing their capital budgets and determining new platforms to launch, JLL Global Energy Practice Leader Bruce Rutherford said. The first place to invest in offshore drilling is in the Gulf of Mexico, he said. Oil extracted there is filtered through the undersea pipeline network, which is connected to the world’s largest petrochemical complex, which is then connected to the largest market for refined products. The second-largest market is the North Sea, he said. JLL research indicates the offshore business will be in full bloom by the second half of 2019 and predicts a boost in real estate demand in late 2019.

Originally, Houston-based industrial developer Vigavi wanted to have a significant presence in the southeast submarket to be close to its oil and gas clients, Vigavi Development Associate Christen Hatfield said. But as the price of oil began to slip, the growth of the petrochemical companies filled the manufacturing space. For example, all of the tenants at the Fairmont Industrial Center in La Porte service chemical plants. Vigavi has four industrial parks in southeast Houston near the Houston Ship Channel. The company is paying over $7/SF for a build-to-suit development currently under contract, she said. That is a big leap from between $2 and $2.50 in the same area about eight years ago, according to Lynch. “When we thought the price of oil was going to affect our business, it actually did the opposite and brought new players into the market,” Hatfield said.

Industrial Demand Picking Up Along Grand Parkway

As space runs out in southeast Houston, developers are looking elsewhere. Industrial product is thriving along the Grand Parkway, which is expected to have a similar effect as the Beltway 8 in terms of connectivity and access for industrial end users. The toll road will connect the suburbs from Conroe, Freeport to the south, Baytown to the east and west to Katy. Hatfield, whose company operates two industrial parks in Katy, one of the fastest-growing submarkets in Houston, said Houston suburbs are ideal for industrial because of the reduced tax rate, lower cost of living and cheaper land cost. “Land is too expensive if you are anywhere close to the Beltway 8,” Lynch said. Industrial space along the Grand Parkway is picking up interest from institutional money, Lee & Associates partner Reed Vestal said. “[At first], they were kind of scared of investing in areas they seemed to think of as prairies,” Vestal, who specializes in land and industrial assets, said. “Now, I can tell you over the last six to nine months, we have seen an enormous amount of activity along the Grand Parkway

Castlewood Civic Club elects new Officers

Newly voted-in officers of the Castlewood Civic Club. Pictured are Secretary Judy de la Garza, left, and former Secretary Carmen Schnur, right.

By Connie Esparza

CASTLEWOOD – Despite the low turnout on November 8, 2018 at Bethel Community Church, elections were held in order to keep the civic club in an active status. Voted in results were Connie Esparza, President; Judy de la Garza, Secretary; Alex V. Ríos, Treasurer; and Ciprano (Cip) Ramon, Advisor. Former secretary, Carmen Schnur, graciously agreed to help in the transition of the new secretary. As we move forward, the Board will be looking to fill the vacant positions of Vice President and Assistant Secretary through appointment. Stay tuned as the Board continues to work together to improve our subdivision.

288 New apartments proposed for Aldine

NORTHWOOD APARTMENTS is planned for family units of low-rent housing, with 12 buildings similar to this early design. The project site is the corner of the Eastex Freeway and Hamill Road.

Community raises concerns at public meeting

ALDINE – LDG Development, a national apartment builder of low rent housing, has announced their plans to build 288 units on a site in Aldine at the corner of the Eastex Freeway and Hamill Road. The property is currently owned by the Greater Pure Light church, who have decided to sell the land and not to build a new building there.

A representative from LDG Development, Dru Childre, has been meeting with local entities last week to advise them of the project, and arrange for schools and utilities to accommodate the project.

At a public meeting held last Thursday at the High Meadows library, Childre showed slides of the designs and explained the amenities and the plan for managing the apartments. Also present at the meeting were representatives of the Harris County Housing Authority, including their CEO Horace Allison.

About 25 local citizens attended the meeting, and many of them expressed concerns about the impact that the project will have on the neighborhood.

Questions were raised about how the project would be managed, to avoid crime such as characterizes the Haverstock Hills apartments, and poor maintenance as can be seen at the Pine Village townhouses. Both of these projects, and several similar ones, are located close to the site.

Marina Suggs, a former resident of Pine Village, said she chose to move away due to the problems at the project that were not corrected and getting worse. Shirley Reed recounted a similar project, Fairgreen, proposed for a site on JFK a few years ago, which was stopped when the community objected to more subsidized rent apartments. State Representative Armando Walle told the Northeast News that the Legislature enacted a law which allows a local representative to object to a project in his district, and effectively cancel it.

In this case LDG Development has gone to great lengths to answer these concerns, and provide an attractive, well managed and safe project for the community. (more…)

Two compete for vacated Senate seat

After Sylvia Garcia won a seat in the U.S. Congress in the Nov. 6 general election, she resigned from the Texas Senate District 6. She will now represent TX-29 in Congress, Gene Green’s old seat.

To replace Garcia in the Texas Senate, Governor Greg Abbott has called a Special Election, to be held on Tuesday, December 11. Early voting will start on Monday, November 26. Four candidates are running for the position, including two well-known state representatives, Ana Hernandez and Carol Alvarado. The other two candidates are Martha Fierro, a Republican, and Mia Mundy. The latter are relatively unknown to voters.

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Early registration kickoff fair at HCC North Forest Campus

Houston Community College’s new North Forest Campus.

HOUSTON (November 8, 2018) – With rapid changes in technology, the economy and career opportunities, having advanced education and training is critical. The HCC North Forest Campus has expanded to provide more classes and training opportunities for the community to reach their educational goals. For those who may need guidance in getting started in school or simply what to know what career options are available, the HCC Northeast Forest Campus is hosting an “Early Registration Kickoff Fair” from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Thursday, November 29. The newly expanded campus is located at 6010 E. Little York Road, Houston, Texas 77016.

Representatives will be available to provide information regarding training programs, academic courses, Seniors 55 yrs.+ tuition discount program, certifications and student support services. There will be drawings for prizes and light refreshments will be served.

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Election: Emmett, Morman defeated in upset

Winners include Sylvia Garcia; Ted Cruz; Lina Hidalgo; Adrian Garcia

HARRIS COUNTY – With 95% of the results counted, political experts are declaring winners in Tuesday’s election.

In the national Senate race, incumbent Ted Cruz had a strong statewide win, defeating popular Beto O’Rourke by 51% to 48%. However, Beto carried Harris County with 58% of the local vote. Other statewide results included Governor Greg Abbott winning 56% of the vote against Lupe Valdez; and AG Ken Paxton receiving 51%.

Harris County’s straight ticket voting showed 44% Republican, and 55% Democratic. This might explain two major upsets: County Judge Ed Emmett, the popular incumbent, was defeated by Democrat challenger Lina Hidalgo who received 49.62% of the vote, to Emmett’s 48.32%, with a third candidate, Libertarian Eric Gatlin receiving 2% of the vote. About 5000 votes separated the top two candidates, but Gatlin received 24,085 enough to swing the election to either of the other two contenders. Republican County Commissioner Pct. 2 Jack Morman was defeated by Democrat and former Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who had 50.11% of the vote, versus Morman’s 49.89%. The difference was a mere 490 votes.

History was made in Congressional District 29, where the first Hispanic woman won a seat in Congress. Sylvia Garcia, formerly a Texas State Senator and Harris County Commissioner, received 75% of the vote against her Republican challenger, Phillip Aronoff.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was returned to office in District 18, with 75% of the vote, versus her opponent Ava Reynero Pate with 21% votes.

In Congressional District 2, formerly held by Congressman Ted Poe, Dan Crenshaw received 53% of the vote, and Todd Litton 45%.

In a highly watched race in the city of Houston, House District 7, Lizzie Pannell Fletcher received 52% of the vote, against incumbent John Culberson with 48%.

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