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North Line opening today

From the inbox:

ALL ABOARD FOR SATURDAY RAIL ROLL-OUT

METRO is inviting the public to get on board for the Saturday, Dec. 21 grand opening of the new 5.3-mile North/Red Line!

Riding the train will be free all day as part of the grand opening celebration taking place at Moody Park.

Festivities at the park include acts like A.B.Quintanilla III y Los Kumbia King All Starz, Mango Punch, Fama and special guest Tamar Davis. The free event will also feature booths with food from north-side vendors and activities for children (like 80,000 pounds of snow) - from 11:30 AM to 5 PM. Click here for the lineup.

Moody Park (3725 Fulton Street) is located right off the Red Line and has its own stop, Moody Park station.  Party patrons can hop on board any of METRO’s 24 stations and make tracks for the celebration.

Prior to the Moody Park celebration, there will be a 10 AM photo opportunity when Congressman Gene Green, METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia and others, board the first southbound train from Northline Transit Center/HCC  (8001 Fulton).

The UHD campus will host an additional commemorative event beginning at 1:30 PM Saturday for a gathering of select guests including community leaders and dignitaries. UHD President Bill Flores and METRO Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia will welcome guests who will board a specially decorated “Polar Express” train traveling to Moody Park for the celebration.

Assuming the weather holds up, I’ll take the girls and check it out. Bounce houses and food trucks are a fine combination for folks like me with kids to entertain on a weekend.

Here’s the Chron story about the opening.

The opening of the first new rail line in 10 years is going to bring “positive changes for the community,” interim Metro president Tom Lambert said.

As the first to serve residential neighborhoods, the line will allow Metro “to see how we can use a bus system to feed into rail. And it will give people more transportation options.”

Transportation options are just the beginning. It also opens up new residential possibilities for residents who live nearby. Some are looking at the rail extension as a way to grow their businesses. For others it will provide easier access to shopping and dining on Houston’s near northside.

“We anticipate an increasing number of shoppers using the rail to get to our stores, especially those shoppers who depend on the public transportation,” said Jeff Procell, general manager for Northline Commons Mall.

The open-air mall is at the Red Line’s northernmost terminus, the Northline Transit Center.

The transit center was part of a nearly 20-year-old negotiation between Metro and the mall’s owners.

“We did that deal in the mid-’90s. Lucky us for having the foresight to make certain the rail would stop here.”

Procell points out that while there are many small strip shops along the Red Line, Northline Commons will be the only major retail center on any of the rail lines (current or coming).

Depends on if you consider the Universities Line to be still on the drawing board for someday or not. If you do count it, then the Costco at Richmond and Weslayan would count as well. There’s also the Uptown BRT line that may someday be a rail line, but now we’re wandering pretty far afield. Moving on:

Realtor Tim Surratt, with Greenwood King Properties, said interest in Northside homes started picking up last year.

“It’s one of the last affordable close-in neighborhoods,” Surratt noted, adding that it has a lot of appeal for young, first-time home buyers.

The draw is the affordability of the housing, but “they’re really excited about the rail,” Surratt said. “These young people just aren’t as interested in driving. They want to use public transportation.”

So far this year, sales of 80 homes in Northside neighborhoods such as Lindale, Irvington and Ryan have been closed. If the 18 homes currently under contract close, it will mean an increase of 38 percent in home sales over last year.

Surratt also is impressed by the escalation in home prices. In 2012, the most expensive sale was $181,000. This year, one Northside home went for $371,000.

The Fifth Ward to their east is also affordable and close in, but they don’t have the infrastructure or the transit to be as attractive just yet. Someday, I hope they will. I also hope housing prices there stay reasonably affordable for at least a couple of years. The good news is that with transit, real density becomes a lot more feasible and desirable. I hope we see a lot of new multi-unit projects in the area. I am really looking forward to the rest of the lines opening up. It’s a new era for Houston.

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  1. […] story is about the opening of the North Line, but it’s also about where Metro goes from […]

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