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Astros home finally generating economic activity

Houston AstrosThough Houston officials assumed Minute Maid Park would generate new economic development after opening in 2000, it’s only now that serious activity has occurred around the home of the Houston Astros.

Economic development around sporting facilities isn’t a given; for every Minute Maid Park, where the economic impact has been limited, there’s a San Diego, Denver and Minneapolis, where there’s been a clear level of activity in the ballpark area. And while Houston has seen plenty of development surrounding nearby BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the MLS Houston Dynamo — just across the freeway from Minute Maid Park — that success has not translated to the ballpark area.

Until now. From the Houston Chronicle:

But the long-expected turnaround may be finally happening. Cranes now hover over the streets near the ballpark, and construction crews are working on residential towers that should be completed in the next few years.

Central Houston estimates $1 billion in residential projects are underway around Minute Maid Park, as developers are lured by Houston’s population growth, builder-friendly climate and a key housing incentive program.

“It’s hard to believe from the inception of the stadium until now, that it’s taken 20 years to get to this point,” [Central Houston president Bob] Eury said. “We tend to think that it would happen overnight.”

It’s a time-honored development sequence. A million dollars in new housing development will inevitably lead to the services needed by the new residents: restaurants and services like grocery stores, dry cleaning and the like. Pretty soon there will be hotels and more underway. And, of course, there’s the willingness of the new Astros management to commit to ballpark renovations; add to that a playoff team, and the franchise is capable of generating some real passion in the community.

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