Heights - River Oaks - Montrose Edition | February 2021

HEIGHTS RIVER OAKS MONTROSE EDITION

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 11  FEB. 6MARCH 5, 2021

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AnewMontrose rises. But will residents stand for it?

IMPACTS

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PAGE 16

AFFORDABILITY As luxury units dominate and rents exceed the reach of the less-auent, longtime residents say its once- bohemian culture is in retreat.

TODO LIST

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High-speed rail still on track

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DEVELOPMENT

High-density, large-scale mixed-use projects are reshaping entire city blocks, and public infrastructure eorts have just begun to keep up.

TRANSPORTATION

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TREZARTANDWINEBAR

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HOUSTONFREEDMEN’S TOWNCONSERVANCY

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The Montrose Collective is one of several developments shaking up the century-old neighborhood. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

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HEIGHTS - RIVER OAKS - MONTROSE EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

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FROMKRISTINA: We are here to help you understand how Montrose, one of Houston’s most treasured neighborhoods, is changing. We are all about local, so check out all the business updates on pages 6-7, and I encourage you to support local whenever you can to help ensure your neighborhood favorites are here long after the pandemic is gone. Kristina Shackelford, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

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HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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salsas. The menu also includes burritos, bowls, quesadillas and frozen margaritas. www.tacostandhtx.com 4 Velvet Taco opened its third Houston location Jan. 11 at A 2001 N. Shepherd Drive, in the Heights, followed by a Gal- leria-area location at B 2626 West Loop S. on Jan. 25. The Heights location offers indoor and outdoor seating as well as Vel- vet Taco’s first Houston drive-thru order pickup window. Drive-thru orders must be placed in advance. The restaurant opened at 50% capacity for indoor and outdoor dining under COVID-19 restrictions. A Rice Village location is planned to open this summer. www.velvettaco.com 5 For the People , a new locally owned spin studio, opened Jan. 16 at 1707 W. Gray St., Houston. The studio’s cycle room hosts 44 bikes but is observing social distancing and capacity limitations. The studio offers workout packages and memberships, with new client specials. 713-393-7871. www.forthepeoplehtx.com 6 A new coffee shop-pilates studio concept called Duo opened Jan. 1 at 2147 Westheimer Road, Houston. The business features a full-service coffee shop with an espresso bar that also serves wine, beer and a selection of food, along with yoga and Pilates studio classes. The business was launched by the former owners of the River Oaks-area Pilates studio Restored Motion, which closed in June. 832-623-6078. www.duohouston.com 7 Central Bank opened a branch at the Lower Heights development, 2799 Katy Freeway, Ste. 150, on Jan. 11. The bank is the oldest independently run bank in Houston. It offers a 24-hour walk-up ATM, drive-thru banking and personal

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NOWOPEN 1 The electric bike store Pedego opened its second Houston-area location at 600 N. Shepherd Drive, Ste. 454, on Jan. 30. The California-based chain, founded in 2008, exclusively sells its own line of electric-powered bicycles, with various models equipped for urban riding, carrying cargo, off-road adven-

2 Blendin Coffee opened its new loca- tion Jan. 29 at 3201 Allen Parkway, Ste. 170, Houston, in a renovated space. The coffee shop’s original Sugar Land shop remains open as well. Owner Weihong Zhang, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, founded the business in 2017, taking a science-based approach to coffee. The renovated building also includes office space tenants Thrasio, an e-commerce firm that builds Amazon-based busi- nesses, The University of Texas’ Houston

office and the live entertainment booking agency Gulf Coast Entertainment. www.blendincoffeeclub.com 3 The Taco Stand , a new concept by the owners of The Burger Joint, opened Jan. 27 at 2018 N. Shepherd Drive, in the Heights. The restaurant makes its own tortillas in house and offers a variety of taco fillings, from brisket, beef cheek meat and al pastor to vegetarian options such as nopales, as well as housemade

tures and more. 832-777-3727. www.pedegoelectricbikes.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY MATT DULIN & EMMA WHALEN

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Eighteen36

Urban South

COURTESY EIGHTEEN36

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11 South Korean steakhouse Bori has purchased a property at 501 Lovett Blvd., where it intends to open its second location in late 2021, according to Davis Commercial. The Houston-based restau- rant’s first location is in the Spring Branch area. Its menu features dry-aged beef and Japanese wagyu in addition to cuts of pork and fish. www.borirestaurant.com 12 New York City’s Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will open a location this fall in the Montrose Collective development at 888 Westheimer Road. A Rice Village location is slated to open this spring. The brand started in Brooklyn in 2008, focusing on homemade ice cream from high-quality, unprocessed ingredients. Its lineup of flavors includes both dairy and nondairy options. Van Leeuwen ice creams can also be found at H-E-B, Sprouts and Central Market as well as through an online store offering nationwide shipping. https://vanleeuwenicecream.com 13 Chloe Dao , a winner of the television series “Project Runway,” is opening a pop-up location of her Rice Village cloth- ing boutique at the new M-K-T develop- ment, 600 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston. The pop-up is slated to run for one year beginning in spring 2021 but may become a permanent location. Her Rice Village location will remain open. 713-807-1565. www.chloedao.com ANNIVERSARIES 14 Eighteen36 , based at 2221 W. Alabama St., marked its first anniversary Feb. 7. Eighteen36, a name that refer- ences the city’s founding year, serves local beers and handcrafted cocktails along with Greek American food supplied

banking services. 832-485-2300. www.cbhou.com COMING SOON

The midrise condo project Westmore has begun construction in Upper Kirby.

RENDERING COURTESY PELICAN BUILDERS

FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON Pelican Builders’ luxury midrise condominium project Westmore broke ground Jan. 28 with a small ceremony at the Upper Kirby site, 2323 W. Main St., Houston. The groundbreaking was originally slated for summer 2020, but plans changed amid the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. Construction was anticipated to take about 20 months. The Westmore oers 33 residences ranging from 1,560 to 1,800 square feet and starting at $960,000. The building’s four penthouses average by the on-site Roadster Grill. The bar follows COVID-19 capacity protocols and offers outdoor seating and cocktails to go. Its mixologists also offer private craft cocktail classes for small groups. 832-831-7050. www.bar1836.com 15 The New Orleans-based brewery Urban South will mark the first anniversa- ry of its first expansion location in Hous- ton’s Sawyer Yards, 1201 Oliver St., Ste. 10, on Feb. 29. The brewery is open seven days a week, releases new beers every Thursday and hosts a local artisan market monthly. The 14,000-square-foot facility has a 10-barrel brewhouse, a canning

8 A Japanese-inspired bar Tokyo Joe’s Shot Bar plans to open in early summer 2021 in the Heights, 2001 Beall St., Houston. The bar is taking over a former industrial building off of West 20th Street near other popular destinations including Drift Bar and McIntyre’s. www.facebook.com/tokyojoesshotbar 9 Agility Bank , which will be Houston’s first primarily woman-owned bank, plans to open its inaugural branch at 2401 N. Shepherd Drive, Ste. 140, by the second quarter of 2021. The bank received condi- tional approval from federal regulators in October. While it will have a physical loca- tion, the bank will primarily offer services as a digital community bank, according to a press release. It will specialize in lending to small and midsized businesses in medical and life sciences, commercial and residential real estate, technology and manufacturing, with an added emphasis on supporting women- and minority-led firms, according to the release. www.agilitybanking.com 10 The Heights apartment midrise Foundry on 19th , 555 W. 19th St., Houston, has begun leasing for move-ins starting Feb. 15. The seven-story building offers a first-floor restaurant space along with 284 residential units with rents starting at $1,700 and ranging from 622 to 1,192 square feet. Amenities include fitness and yoga studios, a pool terrace with private cabanas, a social courtyard and a dog spa. 713-609-1919. www.foundryon19th.com

2,500 square feet and can be fetched for $1.7 million. The building’s midcentury modern- inspired design is the work of the Houston-based Mirador Group. The Westmore sales center has moved to 3400 Morningside Drive, Houston. www.westmorehouston.com

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line, and a dedicated barrel and blending room on-site, as well as a taproom with a patio and beer garden. 713-750-9670. www.urbansouthbrewery.com CLOSINGS 16 Vintage store Flamingo Vintage by the Pound at 2814 S. Shepherd Drive, Ste. D, Houston, closed in December and moved to an online-only presence. The store sells bulk vintage clothing by weight, and customers can still place online orders. A CBD shop took over the space. www.vintagepound.com

               

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HEIGHTS - RIVER OAKS - MONTROSE EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

TODO LIST

February events

COMPILED BY MATT DULIN

FEB. 13

TAPAS ON THE TRAILS HOUSTON ARBORETUM & NATURE CENTER

FEB. 13

LUNAR NEWYEAR RIVER OAKS DISTRICT

FEB. 2628

50THANNIVERSARY ROTHKO CHAPEL

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center oers an outdoor experience featuring small gourmet dishes paired with wines from around the world, all enjoyed on a romantic walk. 5-7 p.m. $95 (members). $105 (nonmembers). Age 21 and older. 4501 Woodway

The River Oaks District and Le Colonial’s annual Lunar New Year celebration will feature two live dragon dance performances by Soaring Phoenix. The rst 45-minute performance will treat district guests amid festive Lunar New Year decor. The second will be held throughout Le Colonial’s restaurant. 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Free. 4444 Westheimer Road, Houston. www.riveroaksdistrict.com

The iconic Rothko Chapel will host a series of virtual events for its semicentennial. On Feb. 26, a panel will give insights into the chapel restoration project. On Feb. 27, the book “Rothko Chapel: An Oasis for Reection” will be released with a discussion panel. On Feb. 28, a celebration will honor the chapel’s legacy. Donations encouraged. Times vary. 713-660-1403. www.rothkochapel.org

Drive, Houston. 713-681-8433. www.houstonarboretum.org

ONGOING EVENTS SECONDAND THIRD SATURDAYS OPEN STUDIOS AT SAWYER YARDS Sawyer Yards oers two days of open studios for the public to meet and support hundreds of local artists. The second-Saturday event features open studios from noon-5 p.m. at The Silos, Silver Street, Winter Street, Sabine Street, and Summer Street studios and from noon to 7 p.m. at Spring Street. The third-Saturday event only includes Silver Street artists from noon to 5 p.m. Parking is available at 2101 Winter St. and 1824 Spring St. www.sawyeryards.com

after his return to Russia after 18 years of exile, followed by a conversation with Solzhenitsyn. The performance is streamed. 7 p.m. Free (registration required). 713-524-5050. www.dacamera.com 13 THROUGHAPRIL 24 ‘MEET HOUSTON’S ARTISTS’ The work of 14 Houston artists will be showcased around a central theme of “empathy” in a new exhibition at Spring Street Studios. The artists are also featured in a Kickstarter-funded documentary series “Meet Houston’s Artists” by MoNique LeRoux, which was released at the end of 2020. Free. 1907 Sabine St., Houston. www.sawyeryards.com 16 THROUGH 28 SINMUROS FESTIVAL Stages will hold its fourth annual Sin Muros Latinx Theater Festival in a virtual format. The festival will include four world-premiere play readings as well as the debut of Houston artist Candice D’Meza’s “Fatherland,” a multimedia digital project exploring grief and identity. The festival also includes “Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet” for younger audiences. Dates, times and digital access vary. www.stages.com POSTPONED EVENTS AZALEA TRAIL The River Oaks Garden Club’s annual fundraiser, which supports an array of local organizations and causes, will not take place in 2021. The event is slated to return March 4-6, 2022. 713-523-2483. www.riveroaksgc.org HEIGHTS CRAWFISH FESTIVAL The Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce’s annual festival, typically held in early March, has been canceled for 2021. www.heightschamber.com

BLACKHISTORYMONTH

The African-American Library at the Gregory School is hosting virtual events.

The Gregory School The Gregory School is hosting virtual lectures with historians each Thursday at 7 p.m. with talks focused on Black families and relationships. Feb. 11: Fay Yarbrough, an associate dean and associate professor of history at Rice University, will share insights into her work on relationships between Black, white and Indigenous people as documented in the 1930s. Holocaust MuseumHouston Several virtual events will be hosted by the Holocaust Museum. Feb. 16: Teenagers are invited to a discussion of “The Hate U Give,” a young adult novel by Angie Thomas. 4 p.m. Feb. 18: Historian Dwight Watson will share insights from his book, “Race and Houston Police Department, 1930- 1990.” 6 p.m.

Feb. 18: Tomiko Meeks, a historian and visiting professor at Texas Southern University, will share her research titled “The Color of Death: Cemeteries and the Black Family.” Feb. 25: Farrah Cambrice, a professor at Prairie View A&M University, will discuss the eects of COVID-19 on Black families. www.thegregoryschool.org Feb. 23: Join a discussion on “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” about the Black farmer whose cells were harvested after her death in 1951 and became the rst immortal human cells grown in a laboratory, spurring decades of life sciences research. The discussion features insights from her descendants. 6 p.m. www.hmh.org

THIRD SUNDAYS THEMARKET AT THE DISTRICT Held the third Sunday each month, this market features locally sourced produce, eggs and meats, handmade condiments, baked goods, desserts, dog treats and other items. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. 4444 Westheimer Road, Houston. www.riveroaksdistrict.com FEBRUARY 09 SOLZHENITSYNAND Da Camera presents pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn’s rendition of two sonatas by composer Sergei Prokoev, written PROKOFIEV: THEWAR YEARS

Find more or submit local events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & MATT DULIN

High-speed rail project faces a few hurdles before 2021 construction

Ocials with Texas Central, the company seeking to build a 240-mile high-speed rail line connecting Houston to Dallas, are aiming to start construction on the project in 2021. A state appeals court ruled last May that Texas Central ocially qualied as a railroad company, which will allow Texas Central to move forward with the eminent domain proceed- ings that could be needed to acquire some of the parcels of land where the railroad will be built. The plainti in the case—James Miles, a landowner who has refused to sell his land to Texas Central— appealed to the Texas Supreme Court on Dec. 11. In his ling, Miles argued Texas Central does not meet the denition of a railroad company in the Texas Transportation Code. “We are condent the Texas Supreme Court will see the truth of how Texas Central is attempting to circumvent the law,” said Kyle Work- man, president of Texans Against High Speed Rail, an opposition group supporting Miles in the suit.

At the same time, state Rep. Steve Toth, RThe Woodlands, has preled a bill that will be taken up during the 2021 Texas legislative session, which began Jan. 12. If passed, House Bill 114 would restrict state agencies from issuing permits to private high-speed rail entities unless they have obtained all federal permits for construction. At the federal level, the company is in the process of getting a permit from the Surface Transportation Board. In the meantime, Texas Central’s $20 billion construction project is slated to start in 2021, and the train is expected to be fully operational by 2026. In an October virtual meeting hosted by the High Speed Rail Alliance, Texas Central Vice President Travis Kelly said the next big step is to nish the design process. “We’re looking at giving that notice to proceed, hopefully, in the rst half of next year,” he said. Texas Central did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

The Texas Central line would have a terminal at the former Northwest Mall site at I610 and Hwy. 290. (Rendering courtesy Texas Central)

Looking toward 2021

SOURCES: TEXAS LEGISLATURE, TEXANS AGAINST HIGH SPEED RAIL, TEXAS CENTRALCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Ocials with Texas Central want to start construction on a high-speed rail project in 2021, but several sources of opposition remain.

TEXAS SUPREME COURT

HOUSE BILL 114

A case Texas Central won in 2020 regarding whether the company qualies as a “railroad company” has been appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. If the court rules against Texas Central, they would not be able to use eminent domain.

Filed by state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, this bill would restrict state agencies from entering right of way agreements with private entities unless the entity has obtained all federal approvals necessary for the construction of a high-speed rail project.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

evaluation Jan. 29. The project is focused on crash reduction and spans both corridors from Loop 610 to I-10. It will reduce vehicle lanes from four to three, add a dedicated bike lane and install sidewalks throughout. It also calls for redesigned intersections with turn bays, new lighting, landscaping and stormwater drainage. The project is split into two phases, with 15th Street as the midpoint between the two. The project requires less than a tenth of an acre for additional right of way. The next steps are nalizing design, receiving an environ- mental decision and bidding.

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bike lanes from Shepherd Drive to Heights Boulevard with pedestrian refuges at Nicholson Street and Heights. On 11th from Heights to Michaux Street, designs call for two vehicle lanes with a center turn lane and a bike lane with shared lanes along Michaux from 11th to Usener Street. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: city of Houston

bike lanes from White Oak Bayou to Blossom Street, a pedestrian refuge at Wash- ington Avenue, an all-way stop at Koehler Street and a designated space for bicycles at the I-10 frontage road. It will allow for shared lanes on Blossom from Jackson Hill Street to Patterson and for a 6-foot protected bike lane along Jackson Hill from Scot- land Street to Blossom. B The 11th Street project calls for two lanes divided by a median and for protected

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The Texas Department of Trans- portation has completed its en- vironmental assessment for the proposed overhaul of Shepherd and Durham drives through the Heights area. TxDOT closed the public comment portion of its MEMORIAL DR.

Heights-area bikeways Public meetings on two bikeway projects under design were held in December and January. A The Patterson Street design calls for shared

Timeline: 2021-25 Cost: $115 million

Funding sources: Memorial Heights Redevelopment Au- thority, federal grants

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF FEB. 1. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT HRMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

CITY& COUNTY

News from Houston & Harris County

Studymeasures neighborhood climates

Sheriff, DAget $25million to fight backlog

BY EMMA WHALEN

BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

court, will cover the costs of hiring 15 attorneys and seven support staff from Jan. 30-July 30. While the court unanimously approved the funding, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she was “a little baffled” by the request, stating there was no prior indication from the sheriff’s office that such a large funding request would be made. Budget officials said they were confi- dent some of the funding would be reimbursable through the Coro- navirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, but the county would still be on the hook for the required 25% match—about $6 million. “The courts are extremely overloaded, and even once COVID- 19 passes, we’re going to need an infrastructure that can adequately move these cases,” said Jim Bethke, director of the Harris County Justice Administration Department. “I think in the long run, we are going to have to think about adding criminal district courts.” Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Atlas 14 report showed rainfall had intensified over time. Atlas 14 data showed a roughly 30% rainfall increase in a 100-year storm event and a 40% increase in a 500-year storm, Edmondson said. The new maps, which will also help shape flood mitigation projects and development standards, will likely show the 500-year flood plain is the new 100-year flood plain, Edmond- son said.

down where it’s needed most,” said Suzanne Scott, the state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas, in a news release. To address these discrepancies, city leaders will consider adding coordinated tree planting, cooling centers and shade structures in high- heat areas. The study was conducted as a component of a larger effort called Heat Watch, led by climate research firm CAPA Strategies with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmo- spheric Administration’s Climate ProgramOffice. The Houston- and Harris Coun- ty-area study was also funded by Shell Oil Co. and Lowe’s Companies Inc.

HOUSTON At the same time of day in the Houston area, temperatures can vary by nearly 20 degrees among neighborhoods, according to a new study. The Houston Advanced Research Center, the city of Houston, Harris County Public Health and The Nature Conservancy of Texas published a map Jan. 5 displaying the range in temperatures collected by 84 volunteers throughout Houston and parts of Harris County on Aug. 7. The Galleria area recorded the hottest temperature at 103 degrees Fahrenheit, differing significantly from the 86 degrees recorded in Channelview at the same time. The study indicated environmental factors such as tree cover and the amount of paved surface area have the greatest effects on recorded temperatures. “Science shows that there is real potential to reshape our built environment and cool our cities

HARRIS COUNTY Officials said the coronavirus pandemic has led to staffing challenges for both the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices, creating a perfect storm of more than 90,000 backlogged cases and subsequent overcrowding in the Harris County Jail. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office requested nearly $24 million in additional funding to cover costs already incurred that are over budget and to get the office through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends Feb. 28. More than $17 million of that request is solely for labor needed to staff the Harris County Jail, according to county documents. On the district attorney’s side, a request for $1.36 million to fund 22 temporary positions for the next six months was submitted in hopes of reducing the case backlog due to COVID-19-related employee absences. The request, which was also unanimously approved by the

NUMBER TOKNOW degrees was the difference between the highest and lowest observed temperatures. 17

Preliminary updated flood plain maps to be released in late 2021

BY KELLY SCHAFLER

making a decision to move or buy a property,” he said. The county’s flood plain map has not been completely remapped since 2001, though it has been updated throughout the years after major storm events, Edmondson said. He said the latest remapping effort came after officials noticed many flood insurance claims were coming from outside the known flood plains.

manager for the district’s Modeling, Assessment and Awareness Project, or MAAPnext. The new rates could take effect in 2023 or 2024, he said. “This will be a very important tool for homeowners, renters, communi- ties in our area that they will be able to use to understand what the risk is that they face in their area—whether they’re making decision to buy flood insurance [or] whether they’re

HARRIS COUNTY The flood control district is planning to submit prelim- inary flood plain maps to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in late 2021, an almost $30 million effort that began in January 2019. FEMA will process the draft map and issue the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map in summer 2022, said Brian Edmondson, the project

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

NUMBER TOKNOW Number of first vaccine doses administered by the Houston Health Department as of Feb. 2. 37,956 HIGHLIGHTS JAN. 28 Houston named Robert Mock interim director of the Houston Emergency Center after former Director David Cutler retired Jan. 31. The center oversees 911 call operations for the police and fire departments. JAN. 28 My Brother’s Keeper Houston, a program aimed at providing scholarship and career training opportunities for youth of color in the city, received a $1 million grant from Freeport LNG, a Houston-based liquified natural gas company. The grant will boost the program’s budget by $200,000 per year for five years. JAN. 28 Harris County Pets had a 98.8% live-release rate in 2020, meaning nearly all healthy or treatable animals that came through the organization last year were adopted, transferred to other life-saving organizations or returned to their owners. Jan. 28 Mayor Sylvester Turner was named chair of the Climate Mayors, a network of 474 U.S. city mayors committed to fighting climate change. JAN. 23 District C City Council Member Abbie Kamin received the COVID-19 vaccine to serve as an example for pregnant women showing that the vaccine is safe. JAN. 13 The Houston Public Library system began its search for the city’s next official poet laureate, who will serve from April 2021 through April 2023 and receive an honorarium of $20,000 from the city of Houston’s City Initiative Grant Program. The current poet laureate is Leslie Contreras Schwartz. JAN. 4 Houston appointed Veronica O. Davis to be its new transportation and drainage director. Davis’ consulting firm helped develop the Vision Zero plans for Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Virginia. Houston City Council meets weekly at 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays for public comment and 9 a.m. Wednesdays for regular business at 901 Bagby St., Houston. Meetings are streamed at www.houstontx.gov/htv. Harris County Commissioners Court will meet at 10 a.m. Feb. 9 to adopt a budget. Live meeting video is available at www.harriscountytx.gov. MEETINGSWE COVER

Houston, Harris County launch separate vaccinewaitlists HARRIS COUNTY Local officials announced two different vaccine waitlist systems Jan. 25, reflecting the varying ways Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo are managing distribution while the demand exceeds supply. The Houston Health Department appointments from the 65+ waitlist as well as prioritizing appointments through medical providers in vulnerable communities. Meanwhile, Harris County Public Health continues to offer a waitlist for any resident, including those who are not included in phases 1A and 1B, however only these priority BY EMMA WHALEN VACCINATION NOTIFICATION Sign up to get notied when appointments open at CITYOF HOUSTON

www.houstonemergency.org • A waitlist is available only for those with disabilities or in 1A/1B groups. • Residents over age 65: 832-393-4301 • Residents with disabilities: 832-393-5500

groups are being included in the county’s lottery-style selection process until state guidelines change. Hidalgo said the waitlist encourages equitable distribution. “Getting a COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be like the ‘Hunger Games,’” she said. “It shouldn’t be about who can hit refresh on a browser the fastest.” Turner said, however, the city’s process helps manage expectations. “When you have a very limited supply, I don’t think there is any system that is going to alleviate the frustration,” he said.

is following a first-come, first- served approach to scheduling appointments while still adhering to state-mandated priority groups. Appointments for vaccines distributed through the Houston Health Department open when the city receives vaccine shipments. The city set up two waitlist hotlines but shut down its waitlist for those over age 65 on Jan. 29 after it received over 70,000 calls. A city-run waitlist for people with disabilities remains open, however. For the first two weeks of February, the city is scheduling

HARRIS COUNTY

Anyone can sign up for the vaccine waitlist at

www.vacstrac.hctx.net. • Only Phase 1A/1B populations are eligible for appointments under state guidelines.

SOURCES: CITY OF HOUSTON, HARRIS COUNTY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

With open beds dwindling, officials look for ways to reduceHarris County jail population

J A I L S N A P S H O T

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is concerned that overcrowding in the jail will worsen the spread of the coronavirus.

BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

capacity with more than 9,000 inmates and fewer than 70 open beds. Since then, Fogler said the jail population has gone down by several hundred. As of midnight Jan. 26, about 8,800 inmates were being held in the jail, he said. Since Jan. 15, a list of 1,543 inmates was turned over to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to be considered for reduced bond. After the office vetted the list, objections were made for all but 60. Only seven of those 60 had been released as of Jan. 26, Fogler said. Fogler attributed the slow progress to delays in getting hearings set. An executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in March limits the release of inmates during the pandemic by barring inmates accused or previously convicted of violent crimes from being released without bail. However, the order does not block the release of inmates on reduced bail.

HARRIS COUNTY Eleven days after officials across Harris County’s criminal justice system met to discuss how to alleviate overcrowding at the county jail during the coronavirus pandemic, progress has been “excruciatingly slow,” according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Murray Fogler, an attorney representing the sheriff’s office, provided a status update on efforts to safely release jail inmates at a Jan. 26 hearing with U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, who is presiding over an ongoing lawsuit dealing with the county’s felony bail practices. Those efforts are largely focused on vetting roughly 1,900 inmates for release and quickly scheduling reduced bail hearings for inmates that were agreed upon by the sheriff’s office and district attorney. When reduced bail hearings were first discussed in mid-January, the jail was on the brink of hitting its

As of Jan. 14:

9,087 inmates in jail

87% of inmates are awaiting trial

6 deaths

caused by COVID-19

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS 1,151 inmates • Have no holds and bonds of $10,000 or less • Could see bonds reduced 364 inmates • In jail pretrial for nonviolent offenses • Could be released on personal recognizance bonds 420 inmates • Should be in treatment centers but are being held in jail because centers were closed by pandemic • Could be released until centers reopen SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

11

HEIGHTS - RIVER OAKS - MONTROSE EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Houston ISD

COMPILED BY MATT DULIN

The Houston ISD board of education next meets at 5 p.m. Feb. 11 to consider a budget amendment among other items. Meetings are streamed live on Facebook and at www.houstonisd.org MEETINGSWE COVER Total active COVID-19 cases among HISD students and staff as of Jan. 31 624 NUMBER TOKNOW HIGHLIGHTS JAN. 25 The district resumed all athletic and UIL events after being on hiatus for about two weeks amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. JAN. 21 District 4 trustee Patricia Allen, a former principal and educator who worked for HISD for 35 years, was elected president of the board of trustees after an initial vote did not result in a clear winner. The president oversees the trustees’ meetings. JAN. 14 State Rep. Penny Morales Shaw and 34 fellow state representatives signed a letter asking Gov. Greg Abbott to prioritize public school employees in the next vaccine distribution group.

Survey tracks students’ basic needs for health care, supplies HOUSTON ISD A new report from Rice University’s Houston

reported having trouble paying their rent or mortgage, and 1 in 6 reported difficulty covering their utility bills. A similar proportion of parents reported they struggled with provid- ing clothing and supplies. Nearly 13% of parents reported they could not take their child to the doctor when they are sick. Almost 20%were unable to provide annual dental checkups, and about 40% did

not get annual vision checkups for their children. One in 5 students said they missed class regularly for mental health reasons. The researchers conducted the study to help inform the district’s wraparound program, which strives to help serve students’ social and emotional needs. A total of 51,769 students, 5,305 parents and 4,698 teachers completed the survey.

Education Research Consortium has documented some of the challenges Houston ISD students face outside the classroom. Based on surveys conducted in 2019, researchers found significant gaps in access to adequate food, health care and school supplies. More than a quarter of families

NECESSITIES LAID BARE Surveys of parents and students in Houston ISD conducted before COVID-19 found significant challenges in covering everyday necessities in some households.

Average school supply needs

Average housing and food insecurities

Trouble buying school supplies

Sometimes not able to pay rent/mortgage

25.6% 27%

14.9%

16.7%

Trouble buying school clothes

Utilities have been turned off this year

16.6% 15.8%

9.2%

15.4%

Key

Students

Parents

Sometimes hungry because limited food at home Lack access to computer/internet at home

17.1%

24.6%

SOURCE: HOUSTON EDUCATION RESEARCH CENTER/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

12.1%

37.1%

 

The better question may be, is it safe not to? Ignoring health issues for fear of catching COVID-19 can put your health in real trouble. So, please, take care of yourself. See your doctor regularly and let us help you manage conditions like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Sometimes, a virtual office visit is the perfect solution. Other times, seeing your doctor in person is the best choice. We have taken important steps to keep you safe when you visit. We understand your concerns. As your partner in good health, we’re always here with answers. Visit our website anytime, or call us at 713-526-4243 for an appointment. Is it safe to see my doctor yet?

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE

BY MATT DULIN

“WEMERGE ART. WEMERGE PHILANTHROPY. WE HAVE A GREAT ENVIRONMENT, ANDWE OFFER SOMETHINGDIFFERENT. IT’S THE PERFECT FORMULA.”

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SHAWNTELL MCWILLIAMS, GENERAL MANAGER, TREZ ART AND WINE BAR

At the table: lamb chops with Brussels sprouts ($28) and a bottle of Durant & Booth Cabernet ($53)

Shawntell McWilliams, who may be the only Black woman leading a wine bar in Houston, draws on her experience as an educator and fundraiser at Trez Art and Wine Bar. (Photos by Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

Trez Art andWine Bar Bistro brings a philanthropic heart to business S hawntell McWilliams had a successful careers in higher education and entrepreneurship, earned multiple degrees and a new husband in Houston—then she confronted an aggressive form of breast cancer that sent her life in a new direction.

On the calendar Trez oers weekly specials and events.

Tuesday: Burger and Wine Night Enjoy a beef or vegan burger and a bottle for $25. Wednesday: Wine Down and Women’s Night A choice of atbread and bottle for $25, plus reverse happy hour for women

Thursday: Take a Flight Night A sommelier-crafted wine ight and cheese pairing for $25 Sunday: Brunch Enjoy music and a special brunch menu 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

McWilliams, who might be the only Black woman running a wine bar in Houston, also played to her strengths and contacts as a fundraiser, surrounding herself with key people to help bring the vision to life, such as Carla Bisong, who curates the bistro’s art by local Black artists. Last summer, McWilliams brought on a chef to enhance the menu with scratch- made items and build its brunch program. In-house mixologists also craft exclusive, colorful cocktails. Meanwhile, a portion of every sale goes to char- itable causes such as the American Cancer Society or Perfect Connections, a group focused on autism. The giving mission has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic despite a dip in business. “We merge art. We merge philanthropy. We have a great environment, and we oer something dier- ent,” McWilliams said. “It’s the perfect formula.” There is also, of course, wine. “We have only selections from boutique wineries, and we do have options from female winemakers and African American winemakers. We make sure we support other minority businesses as a minority,” she said.

“Before that—you know how you’re caught up in your own bubble? You do your normal routine of things,” she said. “But going through that process I started to think bigger and really ask, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ and ‘What can I do to help others?’” With a new outlook, she went into consulting and became a fundraiser for nonprots and causes, a path that led her to meet James Davis, a local business leader who later purchased the Ogun Wine Bar at 920 Studemont St., from a friend of his. “He called me and said, ‘How would you like to help run this for me? You have enough degrees; you could gure it out,’” she said. “And I did.” Trez Art and Wine Bar opened in spring 2019 with McWilliams as a consultant. By January 2020, she had the reins as general manager—but only after learning every aspect of the business, she said.

Trez Art and Wine Bar 920 Studemont St., Ste. 150, Houston 281-501-1788 www.trezartandwinebar.com Hours: Tue.-Thu. 4-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 4-11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., closed Mon. except for private events

N

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HEIGHTS  RIVER OAKS  MONTROSE EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

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