Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway Village
Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway Village, formerly Allen Parkway Village, is a public housing complex in the northern Fourth Ward, Houston, Texas. Allen Parkway Village occupies 37 acres (15 ha) of land.
Opening and initial history
The construction of Allen Parkway Village was completed in 1944, with 963 units built. A group of architectural firms with MacKie & Kamrath being the leader completed the facility. Allen Parkway Village was designed to beautify Allen Parkway. Originally was an all-White development, it initially had the name San Felipe Courts. Mike Snyder of the Houston Chronicle said that local historians indicated the development of the complex as a factor that lead to the decline of the Fourth Ward. It was renamed "Allen Parkway Village" in 1964.
In the 1970s thousands of Vietnamese refugees moved to Allen Parkway Village, where they encountered crime and tensions with existing black residents. Some families doubled up, sharing the same apartment units.
Starting in the 1970s the City of Houston wanted to demolish Allen Parkway Village while residents fought to have the entire structure remain. In 1977 Robert Wood, the director of the Housing Authority of the City of Houston, wrote a letter proposing that Allen Parkway Village be demolished. In 1979 the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) authorized $10 million for modernizing APV, but HUD did not spend much of the money on actually renovating the complex. The city officials had proposed building other low income housing elsewhere in the city. Public housing officials and private developers were in favor of demolishing the housing, while preservationists and residents were in favor of keeping the housing. The Handbook of Texas said "In the 1980s and 1990s the continued future of the Fourth Ward as a black community came under serious attack" due to plans to demolish Allen Parkway Village and replace the complex with housing for high income people and office buildings. In a Handbook of Texas entry the citizen opposition and "more importantly" the mid-1980s economic decline delayed those plans. The Handbook of Texas said that the neglect of the housing units and the resulting disappearance of those units, the reluctance of investors to invest capital into the Fourth Ward, and "future of the neighborhood" all "undermined" "[t]he viability" of the Fourth Ward. In 1988 Allen Parkway Village was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Houston Housing Authority made a unanimous vote to demolish Allen Parkway Village. This caused residents to begin a campaign to rescue the complex. In the 1990s Lenwood E. Johnson, a resident of Allen Parkway Village, began to campaign to prevent the complex from being sold to developers. The legal campaign reached the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1995 Allen Parkway Village's housing made up 24% of the public housing units in Houston. At the time, 21 of its apartments were occupied.
Resolution and aftermath
In 1996 Henry Cisneros, the head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, signed an agreement to allow the City of Houston to demolish 677 of the community's 963 units as long as the site was still used for low income housing. The older units were brick buildings, while David Ellison of the Houston Chronicle said that the newer units "look like any other apartments in Houston". The federal government spent $57 million in redeveloping Allen Parkway Village and improving the surrounding area. The remaining old units were placed on the National Register of Historic Places and were not demolished.
By 1999 remaining portions of Allen Parkway Village were renamed to The Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway and had around 500 residential units. 16 residential buildings, a community center building, and an administrative building were retained. Of the 500 units 280 were existing units and 220 were newly constructed with $30 million federal funding. The first new group of tenants consisted of 156 low income elderly individuals. Allen Parkway Village lost none of its land area. David Ellison of the Houston Chronicle argued that the quest to preserve Allen Parkway Village was "quixotic." Johnson said "The myth is that the people of Allen Parkway Village lost after a 15- or 20-year fight. That's not true. Would you believe they didn't get one inch of Allen Parkway soil?" In 2000 the Houston Press ranked the opening of the new units as the "Best Event That No One Thought Would Ever Happen."
In November 2010 members of the Gregory Library Watch, a group started in January 2010, accused the Gregory African-American Library in the Fourth Ward of deliberately not archiving certain historical documents. Lenwood Johnson, an organization member, stated that the library refused to archive documents about an effort to prevent the closing of the Allen Parkway Village, and Timothy O'Brien, a member of the group, said "They don't want to hear the low-income black history because it indicts the African-American politicians."
- Snyder, Mike. "With its rich history, Fourth Ward is strong in symbolism." Houston Chronicle. Sunday January 9, 2000. A24. Retrieved on July 28, 2012.
- Ellison, David. "A NEIGHBORHOOD IN FLUX / Over the past decade, Houston’s historic Fourth Ward has undergone an uneasy transformation. Now, longtime residents and newcomers alike wonder what happens next. / The fight for the Fourth." Houston Chronicle. Sunday January 21, 2007. B1 MetFront. Retrieved on July 25, 2012.
- Lang, Curtis. "A Depleted Legacy Public Housing in Houston." (Archive) Cite. 1995, Issue 33. p. 10. Retrieved on July 28, 2012.
- "Study Area 11 Archived 2010-05-30 at the Wayback Machine.." City of Houston. Accessed October 21, 2008.
- Lang, Curtis. "A Depleted Legacy Public Housing in Houston." (Archive) Cite. 1995, Issue 33. p. 11. Retrieved on July 28, 2012.
- Swartz, Mimi. "Murder in the Melting Pot." Texas Monthly. Emmis Communications, December 1991. Vol. 19, No. 12. ISSN 0148-7736. START: p. 142. CITED: p. 170.
- Swartz, Mimi. "Murder in the Melting Pot." Texas Monthly. Emmis Communications, December 1991. Vol. 19, No. 12. ISSN 0148-7736. START: p. 142. CITED: p. 172.
- "Best Event That No One Thought Would Ever Happen." Houston Press. Accessed October 23, 2008
- O’Brien, Timothy. "Organizing lessons from Allen Parkway Village." San Francisco Bay View. September 17, 2009. Retrieved on July 3, 2011.
- Wintz, Cary. “Fourth Ward, Houston.” The Handbook of Texas Online. 26 Sept 2008. < http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hpf01>
- Cook, Lynn J. "New project bringing residents back to Allen Parkway Village." Houston Business Journal. Friday August 13, 1999. 1.
- "Opening of the Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway." Houston Press. Retrieved on October 21, 2012.
- Adi, Hiba. "Critics accuse library of selective history." Houston Chronicle. November 13, 2010. Retrieved on December 4, 2010.
- "Gregory Lincoln Elementary Attendance Boundary Archived 2012-02-25 at the Wayback Machine.," Houston Independent School District
- "Gregory Lincoln Middle Attendance Boundary Archived 2009-02-27 at the Wayback Machine.," Houston Independent School District
- "Reagan High School Attendance Boundary Archived 2009-02-27 at the Wayback Machine.," Houston Independent School District
- Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway Village - Houston Housing Authority
- Wallstin, Brian. "Allen Parkway Village: The Movie." Houston Press. Thursday May 6, 1999.
- "Allen Parkway Village residents blame city for constant mold." KHOU-TV. July 25, 2010. Updated on July 26, 2010.
- "Allen Parkway Village." Gregory Library Watch.
- Bivins, Ralph. "Developers sketch out plans for Fourth Ward."[dead link] Houston Chronicle. Saturday April 14, 1990. Business 1. This article is available from NewsBank, accessible with a Houston Public Library card.