A collaborative effort between the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce, local homeowners associations and business owners has yielded improvements along the FM 529 corridor in Cy-Fair.

Spearheaded by the chamber’s Community Growth Committee, the FM 529 corridor project involved cleaning up visual clutter, combating illegal dumping and working with business owners to reinvest in aging facades.

“With so much new development going on [in] west [Cy-Fair], we wanted to make sure these aging neighborhoods were being taken care of as well,” said Mark McShaffry, co-chairman of the committee.

The project, which was launched in 2014, was similar in concept to a chamber project that took place on Jones Road in 2012. The Jones Road project was spurred by the closing of Target and Randalls stores in the area.

Over the past few months, work has been ongoing at Barker Cypress Marketplace, where a 21,000-square-foot Planet Fitness gym will open in late April at a site formerly occupied by H-E-B. Meanwhile, a CVS/pharmacy is under construction at the marketplace and will open in the third quarter of 2016 according to representatives with Moseley Commercial Real Estate, which handles leasing at the center.

“Both the Jones Road and FM 529 projects started with a large tenant vacancy, and in both cases a large anchor tenant building ended up being rented,” McShaffry said.

Working with business owners was a major part of the initiative, McShaffry said.  The entire project launched with a business owner roundtable discussion to get feedback on what problems were most pronounced and recruit help in addressing them. Over the course of the project, committee members reached out to 88 business owners.

Several business owners reinvested in their storefronts, including World Tech Auto Repair, which also expanded into nearby buildings.

“I think it’s important to have a nice upgraded look,” said Arlene O’Malley, co-owner of the Ace Hardware store located at the
FM 529 and Barker Cypress Road intersection. “It helps people feel more safe when they are shopping in the area, which improves business for all of us. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’ve already noticed a difference.”

The committee enlisted the help of students and faculty at Langham Creek High School. Students designed posters and methods for improvement the corridor as a part of class.

“It was exciting to see how much they cared,” McShaffry said.

Taking advantage of code enforcement was another strategy used by committee members and one McShaffry said citizens can use in their everyday lives. Bandit signs—advertisements posted along roadways that are nailed to utility poles or placed in medians—were particularly bad in the area.

Residents can report signs posted in county rights of way by contacting the Harris County attorney’s office. County officials encourage volunteers to take photos of the bandit signs to use as evidence.

Today, the committee is shifting its focus to educational endeavors. It plans to bring in knowledgeable speakers to talk about ongoing developments in Cy-Fair. McShaffry said FM 529 remains a work in progress, and he encourages residents in the area to do their parts in keeping it in good shape.

“Everyone desires a nice, comfortable, clean place to live,” McShaffry said. “We want that to be available for people living in every area
of Cy-Fair.”