ABHR was gracious enough to host our Rising Leaders on May 16th, for a roundtable with our founders. The founders who joined us were David Wolff of Wolff Companies, Jack Linville formerly of PGAL, Kent Dussair founder of Community Development Strategies, and Joe B. Allen of AHBR. Each of them shared stories of projects, successes, struggles and failures they experienced while involved with the association and its formation starting in 1979.
Jack Linville started off by sharing the history of the association stating that in 1979, when he was a professor at Rice University, “Rice Center was approached to do a study from Memorial out to the Katy area and figure out how to address the issues with growth and transportation that would be coming to that region.” That study we now know resulted in the recommendation that David Wolff and his peers (Bill Burge Sr., Walt Mischer Sr. John Sealey, Marvin Leggit, Harold Wallace, John Turner, Don Rogers, & John Lear) join together to form an association focused on advocacy and quality growth. David Wolff added that “Before, in the mid 1970s, you couldn’t see a stop light once you passed Memorial City until you reach out to the Katy area.” Wolff’s approach to tackle that issue was to help create master planned communities that would become true opportunity centers where people could not only work, but live and play.
Kent Dussair joined the founders and brought a presentation that featured past projections and data points of the population and demographics in the West Houston area during the first 20 years of the association. In 1983, the area labeled as ‘west houston‘ was less than half of the 1000 sq. miles we now cover. The population was just north of 500,000 and the majority of that population fell between the ages 25-34. Joe B. Allen shared with the group that,”In the 80s if you ever wanted to convince someone a project was worth doing, you went to Kent and his team at CDS and asked for his projections and/or studies.” Allen was the man in charge of getting the right people to the table. “My role in the association was to be the person who could get the right partners together to help progress the stages of a project.”
The first of many projects were transportation oriented. The additions of the Grand Parkway and the Beltway being some of the two largest and most successful ones. With the goal of quality growth the association continued to bring large partners into the region like U of H at Cinco and Texas Childrens Hospital as well as helped grow campuses for Exxon, Park10, Conoco and Shell to establish a workforce. Thank you to our founder’s for paving the way for us to continue the legacy of true quality growth. And thank you to our founders for taking the time to come and speak with us.