Josephine's Day Spa and Salon at Eldridge Parkway lost everything but the chandeliers to the floodwaters of Harvey. In addition to scissors, blowdryers, products, and earnings, several employees also lost their homes and cars as well. At the Cigna Sunday Streets HTX this weekend, December 3 from noon to 4 pm in the Energy Corridor along Eldridge Parkway between Enclave Parkway and Briar Forest Drive, Josephine's will be reconnecting with their community with a sidewalk sale while the renovation of their space continues.
Sunday Streets HTX, now in its third year, temporarily closes a street to motorized vehicles and opens it to people moving by foot and on wheels. (Cite and Rice Design Alliance played a role in the conceptualization, advocacy, and public engagement for this program from its beginning.) In October 2016, Sunday Streets came to Eldridge Parkway for the first time, which was also the first time the event was held outside Loop 610 and Beltway 8. Strip mall parking lots and medians came to life with pop-up markets, live music, food trucks, a mobile library, Zumba, a rock-climbing wall, art, games, and giveaways. The "sub"-urban landscape was remarkably urban in terms of its public life. And that public appeared diverse in terms of class, gender, ethnicity, race, age, and ability.
Since the last event, the Energy Corridor experienced unprecedented flooding over a two- to three-week period when the Army Corps of Engineers released record amounts of water from the Addicks and Barker dams. Several businesses on the northern end of the Sunday Streets route, at Eldridge and Enclave, were flooded, including Josephine's.
"After Harvey we weren’t sure if we would be ready in time for Sunday Streets," says Kelly Rector, the Transportation Demand Management Program Manager for the Energy Corridor Management District. The event is not only coming together but some businesses have used it as an occasion to re-open or partially open.
Much of the Sunday Streets route did not flood, including AMLI on Eldridge Parkway. In the days following the storm, Janice Quigley worked overtime to rent units to 83 new families who were displaced. She sees Sunday Streets as a way to serve residents and connect to the broader community. At the 2016 Sunday Streets, she organized a bicycle giveaway, an outdoor living room, food trucks, and face painters. This year, with even more residents to engage and the December timing, AMLI will bring back a similar mix but with more seating and a chance to get your picture taken with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.
The holiday cheer that will come to Eldridge Parkway — and the opening up of the street itself — will be a remarkable turnaround from just three months ago.
After Harvey, so many streets were flooded that "everyone was hunkered down and staying home," says Clark Martinson, General Manager and Executive Director of the Energy Corridor Management District. The public infrastructure that the district manages such as bus stops, benches, medians, and sidewalks were cleaned up and returned to functionality relatively quickly. Private owners of buildings, however, face expensive decisions about how to rebuild. Martinson, on the whole, is confident about the area's resilience. For example, the Omni Houston Hotel at Westside on Eldridge Parkway, north of the Sunday Streets route, has already remodeled and reopened after flooding.
"I'm concerned about the impact on service people, the lost hours worked and the lost tips," says Martinson. "Sunday Streets is a chance to support and celebrate small businesses and workers who are essential to our quality of life."
Josephine's Salon moved employees to a temporary location nearby at 1801 S. Dairy Ashford Road while they wait for renovations to be completed. If you are looking for some gifts for loved ones and friends, Sunday Streets and the various sidewalk sales offers a chance to contribute to Houston's recovery.