A prominent billboard at the corner of East T.C. Jester Boulevard and Interstate 610, featuring the tagline “Grow Near, Grow Green,” is just one of the components of a new marketing campaign from the Near Northwest Management District (NNMD).
Eileen Egan, vice president of capital projects, is in charge of the new initiative which highlights why the Near Northwest is a good place to live, work, play and invest.
Egan said there will be a total of three billboards. Another is already up at Highway 249 and Hollister Road. The “modest” campaign also includes radio spots that will start running in September.
“It’s been on the list to do,” NNMD President Wayne Norden said. “We wanted to help individuals who are opening up businesses. It’s the right time in the Northwest area.”
The NNMD is bounded on the south by Pinemont Drive, on the west by Hollister, on the north by 249 and on the east by T.C. Jester. Subdivisions include Inwood Forest, Candlelight Oaks and Forest West.
Although the area’s growth has been impacted by COVID-19, with the shuttering of some businesses, there are some bright spots.
Egan said a shopping center owner in a recent meeting said she had lost 15 tenants but gained 19 new ones.
Norden said there has been a steady influx of new residents, including young families and young professionals, for the past seven years. He attributes that in part to the abundance of green space and a central location, close to the Galleria and other business centers.
“It’s taken a lot of work to get here,” Norden said. “[With] the new people moving in, the diversity is an advantage.”
The affordability of homes is also a big draw. While some neighborhoods in NNMD are now in the $250,000-$450,000 range, they are still more affordable than the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest.
Norden recently talked to a young husband and father who sold his house in Oak Forest, paid cash for a new one in Inwood Forest and also took care of college loans.
“We’re hearing from realtors that homes are holding value,” Egan said.
Mel House, another soon-to-be resident of Inwood Forest, said it was a draw for many of the reasons Egan and Norden emphasized.
“It became very clear that the neighborhood was much more in line with what we were looking for in regards to diversity, location, and getting more house for the money,” House said. “There are also a ton of older houses getting snapped up and renovated, so there are a lot of desirable properties. Inwood Forest in its current state reminds me of what Heights and Oak Forest was like in the late 1990s and early 2000s.”
House met his new next-door neighbor on a preview drive by the house a realtor showed them later that day.
“She (had) lived there for 40 years (and talked about) how much she loved the neighborhood, how everyone on the street had lived there for a long time (and) how it never flooded even during Alicia,” he said. “I have to admit, I pretty much fell in love with the place right then and there. You can tell that there’s some real history and community in that area.”
Egan also noted new developments like the Contempo Builder project, Rio Houston, at West Tidwell Road and Bingle Road.
NNMD helped facilitate a partnership between YES Prep and Hoffman Middle School, Eisenhower Ninth Grade School and Eisenhower Senior High in Aldine ISD. It allows the charter school to offer its programming in the public schools.
“We got the idea from what Spring Branch, KIPP and YES Prep did in Spring Branch,” Egan said. “YES Prep White Oak already opened in (the old) Kroger.”
Another branding initiative, which doubles as a beautification project, are the mini murals on area utility boxes.
“There are 22 total now,” Egan said. “We just finished the second set of 12.”
She said the mini murals along the bike trails reflect the active living options.
“We are highlighting things from the area, (like the) Hollister detention wildlife,” Egan said. “We chose from 50 renderings picturing the art from the area.”
With the new campaign comes a reactivation of the NNMD Facebook page. Its website is also current, with information on new residential and commercial permits.
“We don’t want people to have to poke around a lot of places for information,” Norden said.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.nnmd.org.