Returning A Houston Center To Its Glory Days

UH renderings
There's an area of South Houston that used to be one of the city's hot spots — more than 50 years ago. After years of decline and decay, the Palm Center on Griggs Road is making a comeback.

Back in 1958, the Palm Center was Houston’s place to be.

This is architect Keiji Asakura:

"The Palm Center was the first of its kind that we know today as a shopping center, which means you drive up park and shop. And believe it or not this was is the first one and was build in 1958."

But as they say that was then and this is now. And now the area is in the process of being brought back to life after years of decline. Where there were once retails shops, there are now nonprofits and government agencies. There’s also construction on the new light rail line that will run in front of the center.

Solar renderings

University of Houston researcher Carroll Parrott Blue is helping organize the revitalization.

"I want people to understand that they can work with artists, architects, city planners and all of these civic entities and together build the most livable, viable, culturally important community that reflects who they are in that community."

Next to the Palm Center there’s now a new park.  Blue and the designers working on the project are planning to put in a community garden where locals can grow their own food.

The garden should be up and running by early next year.

"This area is really going to be a seed for being able to deal with the green, and the waterways, and the streets and so this area will have that concept behind it."

They’re hoping for a complete transformation of the area. Organizers say Palm Center was once the place everyone wanted to be and in recent years it’s been an area where few have wanted to be.

As for the garden, they say lettuce grows really well in Houston. The hope is that by growing vegetables local residents will make better eating choices.

I asked Patrick Peters, who is designing the garden, what happens if that lettuce winds up in big cheeseburger.

"It’ll taste better and it’s better than having no lettuce. And maybe some will fall into a salad by mistake."