The Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce signed a contract yesterday, Jan. 28, with economic development firm Hawes Hill and Associates to assist in the creation and administration of a management district along the FM 1960 commercial corridor.

The $60,000 contract will be funded through Grow Northwest, an economic development fund within the HNWCC, as well as through additional contributions from area businesses, according to Bobby Lieb, HNWCC president and CEO. Under the contract, Hawes Hill and Associates will provide services to HNWCC until a management district spanning from Hwy. 249 to I-45 is officially approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality state agency—a process could take up to two years.

Lieb said establishing a management district on the FM 1960 commercial corridor would allow a board of directors to implement services that promote economic development in the area. He said the management district would focus on improving the corridor's safety and appearance, by providing services such as nuisance abatement, landscaping and additional law enforcement.

"There's been a decline in the retail traffic ... [and] in the capital invested into a lot of the commercial properties [on FM 1960]," Lieb said. "We have abandoned strip centers that are sitting empty that are being vandalized. All of that is contributing to a decline in property values, and it's contributing to a decline in economic activity."

A draft of the proposed management district's boundaries has been presented, however, it may be altered up until the day of officially approval, Lieb said. Now that the contract has been signed, Lieb said HNWCC will begin the process of creating a service plan, in which a task force will plan what developments need to be made and how much those developments will cost for the district. Lieb said he also plans to begin public outreach initiatives to gain community feedback on the proposed project.