Real Estate Round-up
Leafing a Legacy at Teas
Another year behind us. Around New Year’s Day, most of us pause to think about the footprints we left behind and what imprint we can make on the year ahead. If you are looking for an example of a good legacy, you could do a lot worse than Edward Teas. Houston is a much greener place because of Mr. Teas.
He planted more than one million trees in Houston. Teas landscaped the oak-studded Rice University years ago. Bellaire residents can thank Mr. Teas for the deep shade on Bellaire Boulevard. And Teas actually planted the oaks in River Oaks.
However, Teas and his descendents are leaving behind more than old oaks. After 100 years in operation at 4400 Bellaire Boulevard, the Teas Nursery property is becoming a public park. A lot of folks were sad to see the five-acre Teas Nursery close down at the end of 2009. It was a good place to buy plants and get advice from some of the true horticulturists who worked there.
A Gem Retained
Wooded, well-located tracts like Teas Nursery are a rarity. Finding good land inside the loop isn’t easy. Today, developers looking for inner loop sites often are required to tear down an old apartment complex or something to come up with a parcel that can be developed.
The Teas family put the nursery up for sale this fall and it was anticipated that the land would be sold for upscale single-family development. That’s exactly what had happened in 2002. The back half of the Teas property was sold to developer Frank Liu of Lovett Homes, who built a dozen or so million-dollar mansions there.
This time, developers didn’t get the remaining Teas land. Some local philanthropists stepped in to save the remaining property. The Jerry and Maury Rubenstein Foundation, a private trust of two brothers and long-time residents of Bellaire, bought the land and will provide it as a city park, says Scott Rubenstein of Pipeline Realty. Over the years, the Rubensteins, owners of Texas Pipe & Supply Co., have supported a number of charitable causes dear to Houston, such as Texas Children’s Hospital.
Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel says there will be an exhaustive process to gather input from the community and it may take a year or more before the park is finished. One of the two old Teas homes on the property could be transformed into a history museum, she says.
“I am just thrilled we’ll be able to preserve a historical property that is an important piece of Bellaire’s history,” the mayor says.
Where Will They Play?
Preserving urban land is critical. More acres are chewed up for commercial development all the time and finding places for parks is not going to get easier in future years. Two-thirds of the nation’s city dwellers don’t have easy access to nearby parks, playgrounds or open space, according to the Trust for Public Land. Children without parks are penalized with higher levels of obesity, anxiety and depression.
Parks need to be set aside now for future generations. The world’s population is almost seven billion now and it’s projected to rise to eight billion by 2020 and to nine billion by 2040. Houston will be a denser place in the years to come. But we can't all suffocate in a treeless city of wall-to-wall high-rise condo towers. We’ll need more people like the Rubenstein and Teas families to make sure we have sufficient trees, grassy fields and parks.
Finding ways to help make Houston a greener place is a great addition to any list of New Year’s resolutions.
Ralph Bivins, former president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, is editor-in-chief of RealtyNewsReport.com.