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Westchase District set to get 2 parks by 2022 for nearly $20 million

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 11/21/2020 By Elliott Lapin, Staff writer

Houston’s Westchase District will soon become greener.

The 4.2-square mile West Houston District — which is bounded by Westheimer Road to the north, Westpark Tollway to the south, Gessner Road to the east and West Houston Center Blvd to the west — is getting two new parks, one in July 2021 and another in Dec. 2022.

The Trust for Public Land ranks Westchase District as one of the most park-poor areas of Houston, and the City of Houston has made the development of parks there a top priority.

Houston officials purchased two park sites and entered into an agreement with the Westchase District, which will program, operate and maintain the parks.

Woodchase Park

The first space, Woodchase Park, is located on a 1.7-acre parcel of land on Woodchase Drive just north of Westpark Tollway and is scheduled to open next summer.

The land for Woodchase Park has already been cleared, and the concrete has been poured for the pavilion.

Some of the features of Woodchase park include a 7,500-square foot activity lawn, a multi-purpose pavilion, a dog park, a community garden and food truck slots.

It will host activities year-round, such as arts and crafts, book clubs, gardening workshops and movie nights.

The cost for Woodchase Park is projected at about $5 million.

Wilcrest Park

The second Park, Wilcrest Park, is located on a 3.4-acre parcel of land at the intersection of Wilcrest Drive and Richmond Avenue and is scheduled to open in Dec. 2022.

The features of WIlcrest Park will include a 30,000-square foot activity lawn, a performance pavilion, a botanical garden and an outdoor reading room.

The cost for Wilcrest park is $14.7 million, of which $11.5 million has been allocated between the Houston Parks Department, Westchase District 380 funds (from an agreement between Westchase District and the City of Houston to fund city-approved infrastructure projects) and a grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Westchase launched a “Green Space for Westchase” fundraising campaign in late 2019 to raise the remaining $3.2 million for Wilcrest Park in coordination with the district’s charitable arm — the Westchase District Community Fund.

So far, the campaign has raised around $1 million with the largest donations coming from The Brown Foundation, CenterPoint Energy, HEB and Philips 66.

“There is a gap that we needed to fill for remaining construction costs, and it was always planned that we would go out for some sort of fundraising campaign,” said Westchase District Projects Director Louis Jullien. “Not just to raise the funds for the project, but to allow the opportunity for local businesses to have a stake in the game so to speak, of being able to proudly represent their company and provide the community with some great green space.”

Jullien said the plan is to close the remaining $2.2 million gap by early summer of 2022, and he is confident that will happen.

He said the district is talking to some of the larger foundations, such as the Kinder Foundation, the Cullen Foundation, the Wortham Foundation and the Fondren Foundation as well as companies within the district.

All of the Westchase District Board members have given individual donations.

Filling a need

Westchase district is home to more than 31,000 residents and 55,000 people who commute there for work who currently have no access to an area park.

That will soon change.

The 565,000 residents who live within five miles of one of the two parks will also benefit from the public parks, which will be open to everyone.

elliott.lapin@hearst.com

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