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Houston to buy Heights Transit Center, convert it to a park

Houston City Council this week will consider buying the Metropolitan Transit Agency’s Heights Transit Center for $1.4 million and converting it into park space.

The 0.8819-acre tract is at 6000 N. Main St., an area the city’s 2015 parks master plan identified as lacking both park space and available land for purchase. Metro no longer uses the site, which sits at the northern edge of the intersection of Calvalcade, North Main and Studemont, as a transit center.

“A property of this size inside the Interstate 610 Loop, specifically the Greater Heights, which is a densely developed highly desirable neighborhood with proximity to downtown Houston, is difficult to find and costly to acquire,” Houston Parks and Recreation Department officials wrote in a memo to city council recommending approval of the purchase.

The city would fund the purchase not from general tax revenues but from its open space fund.

Those dollars are generated under a 2007 ordinance that divided Houston into 21 sectors and levied $700-per-unit fees on residential developers who did not set aside green space. The fees generated within each sector must be spent there within three years and can be used only for park improvements.

With zero dollars slated for parkland acquisition in the city’s five-year capital plan and bond dollars focused on the Bayou Greenways 2020 effort to create linear parks along Houston’s waterways, the open space fund is Houston’s best bet to expand greenspace, save the occasional philanthropic windfall.

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