Few communities in Houston boast the intrinsic beauty of River Oaks; the neighborhood has been a model of community planning since its establishment by the Hogg brothers in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, its streets, homes, and even country club are a beacon of innovative and classic design.
The same, however, cannot be said for River Oaks Boulevard, which is getting a major facelift courtesy of the River Oaks Foundation. The Boulevard Project will improve the landscaping of the esplanades and provide funds for long-term maintenance along the tony thoroughfare. The goal is to “honor the founders’ vision and restore the boulevard to its historic role as the exemplary design element in the original landscape plan,” according to a statement. The project launched on May 1.
The Boulevard Project will focus on landscaping and beautification, as the boulevard was gutted during the 2002 Kirby Drive Storm Sewer Relief Program, followed by the 2009 phase II of the River Oaks Boulevard, Westheimer Road, and Inwood Drive infrastructure project — all of which caused removal of the intended landscaping. Hurricane Ike also devastated the trees on the boulevard’s esplanades in 2008.
Moss Landscaping will now design and develop each of the nine esplanades, embracing the original use of grass, borders of low hedges, and roses, according to the foundation. The esplanades are positioned from River Oaks Country Club to Inwood Drive, Del Monte Drive, Chevy Chase Drive, San Felipe Road, Huntingdon Place, Avalon Place, Ella Lee Lane, and Reba Drive. Construction on three of the nine esplanades begins in early May 2020.
The foundation plans to complete all nine esplanades by 2021.
The project is meant to return the boulevard to its envisioned design. Original developers, Will and Mike Hogg, along with their business partner, Hugh Potter, set out in 1924 to create a new kind of residential community that united curvilinear roads and landscape designs as striking elements in a neighborhood. Landscape design was pivotal as a top marketing priority for the River Oaks Estates, as it would become the perfect partner to the already established River Oaks Country Club.
“Now, more than ever before, people are outside walking and enjoying the neighborhood,” says River Oaks Foundation president, Susanne Pritchard, in a statement. “Our historic boulevard esplanades will finally be planted to reaffirm the original design, featuring a carpet of grass and colorful roses, just as Hugh Potter, a founder of River Oaks, imagined.”