Culture / Newsy

Houston Billionaire Couple’s Foundation Gives a Record $100 Million to Improve the Buffalo Bayou For All

Nancy and Rich Kinder Step Up in a Historic Way For the Buffalo Bayou Partnership's Master Plan

BY // 09.26.22

Continuing its legacy of transformational support for Houston’s green spaces, the Kinder Foundation has committed a historic $100 million to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s master plan for the Eastern segment of the bayou development.

The foundation gift from billionaire philanthropists Nancy and Rich Kinder, Kinder Morgan chairman and CEO, facilitates delivery of the 10-year Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan, which envelopes the Greater East End and Fifth Ward neighborhoods.

Preserving the culture and traditions of the area is among key objectives of a plan that includes extending the neighborhood fabric to the bayou and creating a public waterfront edge open to all.

The plan calls for new trail links extending the system from downtown to Jensen Drive, expansion of 19-acre Tony Marron Park into a 40-acre enhanced green space, restoration and improvement of Japhet Creek, repurposing a former barge terminal on Turkey Creek into a waterfront recreational and cultural hub, and the dedication of 13 acres along the South bank of the bayou along Lockwood Drive for affordable housing. In addition, a 50,000 square foot building on Navigation Boulevard will house Houston’s Hispanic History Research Center (HHRC) and Archives.

Through the Kinder Foundation, Rich & Nancy Kinder make a transformational $100 million gift to Buffalo Bayou Partnership for the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan. (Photo by Karen Sachar, courtesy of the Kinder Foundation)
Through the Kinder Foundation, Rich & Nancy Kinder make a transformational $100 million gift to Buffalo Bayou Partnership for the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan. (Photo by Karen Sachar, courtesy of the Kinder Foundation)

The $100 million, the largest gift in the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s history, represents approximately one-third of the $310 million necessary for realization of the master plan and thereby unlocks an additional $210 million in public and private funding. Remaining funds, in addition to Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s raise, will be provided  by the City of Houston and Harris Country with the addition of Federal housing tax credits.

“Public-private partnerships are critically important because there are never enough public funds to address infrastructure and quality of life issues,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a statement. “This gift is especially noteworthy as it touches on two of the city’s underserved communities — the Fifth Ward and East End.

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“Providing and enhancing access from these communities to Buffalo Bayou is particularly important to the city.”

The historic gift was announced in ceremonies at Tony Marron Park on Monday morning when the Kinders were joined by Mayor Turner and Harris County Commissioners Adrian Garcia and Rodney Ellis. The plan will be considered for approval by Houston City Council and Harris Commissioners Court on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Buffalo Bayou Partnership is honored that the Kinder Foundation is entrusting our organization to steward this extraordinary gift,” Buffalo Bayou Partnership president Anne Olson says in a release.

The Kinder Foundation $100 million gift to Buffalo Bayou Partnership accelerates the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan. (Rendering of the plan from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership website)
The Kinder Foundation $100 million gift to Buffalo Bayou Partnership accelerates the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan. (Rendering of the plan from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership website)

“This plan is not only about parks and trails. It is a comprehensive community development plan for a part of town that has not seen this level of investment before. The cultural destinations, infrastructure improvements and connectivity in Buffalo Bayou East came directly from the input we received from the East End and Fifth Ward communities. We are grateful to the Kinder Foundation as well as the City and County for joining together with us to make the communities’ vision a reality.”

The Buffalo Bayou East Standards Committee — comprised of representatives from Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the City of Houston, Harris County and the Kinder Foundation — will oversee implementation of the 10-year plan. Several members of the committee will be stakeholders from the Greater East End and Fifth Ward communities.

Further assuring approval by residents in the area, a neighborhood stakeholder committee will provide ongoing input to Buffalo Bayou Partnership and the project teams as the plan develops.

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