Work begins in Baytown's Historic West End

People still frequent the Baytown Café, one of the businesses open down in the Historic West End. The city is taking steps to enhance the area of town by removing slabs, installing sidewalks, and offering business owners like the Baytown Café the chance to improve their facades with a program that will match funds for the cost. Pictured are David Hernandez and his wife, Lisa. 

The Historic West End, once known simply as Old Baytown, is showing signs of improving. 

While there are still some parts of the once-bustling area of town, like the historic post office and the Baytown Café, which was once Scarborough’s Drugs, still open for business, some other parts are showing signs of decay. 

But the city is taking action to revamp the area. Burditt Consultants was hired by the city for the development of a Market Street Corridor Study to plan, design and develop technical specifications that will drive the redevelopment and beautification of the study area.

“The Market Street Corridor Study represents an intensive effort that included stakeholders, citizens, and city staff input,” Alice Jauregui, City of Baytown spokeswoman said. “In addition to completing a community-wide online survey and walking audit of the area, a series of coordinated meetings were held with citizen groups.”

The Market Street Study Stakeholder Committee consists of members from the West Baytown neighborhood, Lee College, Goose Creek CISD, Baytown/West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation, Our Promise for West Baytown, the Planning and Zoning Commission, city staff, and city council.

An agreement for $61,000 was made between the city and Burditt for the study in 2018. 

Jauregui said the first of many steps to the implementation of the plan entailed branding and designating the western segment of the corridor as the Historic West End. 

Several vintage buildings are contained within the area, such as the post office building, first opened in 1936. 

Some of the short-term implementation objectives include, but are not limited to:

•Creation of logo and/or symbol for branding purposes

•Demolition of building slabs

•Installation of streetscape trees near industrial parking areas

•Application of a street overlay between Minnesota Street and South Airhart Drive

Laura Alvarado, District 1 councilwoman, said plans for revitalizing the area have been in talks for a number of years. But now, there is some action taking place rather than just words. 

“The city owns some property down there, and we are turning dirt where there used to be an empty concrete slab,” Alvarado said. “It is not like Texas Avenue, where we have an old and nice empty building with owners that want to do something, but instead, we have empty slabs. So, we have a slab removal program for city-owned property where we can remove slabs. It makes it easier for future development with a clean slate.”

There are also some new sidewalks being constructed in the Historic West End. 

“Our plan is to have sidewalks go all the way down to city hall,” Alvarado said. “This will increase walkability in that district. We started on that end (where Market and Harbor streets are), and it will run all the way to the triangle of Texas Avenue, Decker Drive and Market Street.”

Alvarado said bicycle lanes could be added as well. 

“Our plan is to make it more beneficial to pedestrians and cyclers,” she said. “A lot of residents who like to walk or ride a bike. We want to make sure we allow that safe space for them.”

Alvarado said another big part of the area’s renovations is the infrastructure.

“We dealt with a lot of flooding in the area, so to get businesses in the area, we want them to know it is safe,” she said. “So, we began to work on the infrastructure. We spent money and time on Huggins Street and Minnesota Street to make sure the streets are conducive for waterways. But, we have a ways to go, but we are working to improve that area.”

Alvarado said some future plans for the Historic West End might include movie nights and other events designed to attract folks. She added this is already in the first steps with some Christmas decorations placed in the area over the holidays. 

Alvarado said Baytonians should expect the Bayway Corridor to be the next focus for the city a well as the Pelly area.  

“It is finally here, and we are excited,” Alvarado said. “We are waiting to see the finished product. I think it is something people have waited on for a long time and will be happy with.” 

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(1) comment

Susan Cummings

Terrific! So much of value in our older neighbors. We were at the Cafe before Christmas enjoyed ourselves thoroughly

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