Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What's New

So many changes in my life recently. Not only have I moved into a new place, but I have a new store to work in. Both decisions were difficult ones, but I felt it was time to move ahead.
I have often railed both for and against urban renewal and gentrification. My apartment complex is a good example of urban renewal.
For many years the name Skylane Apartments was synonymous with crime. In recent months, three have been purchased and are now in the process of being renovated.
I'll admit I had my reservations about moving into a former Skylane. The owner reassured me most of the bad element was gone. After my experience at my last complex, I wondered what awaited me inside.
The apartment was airy and clean, no carpet in sight. Unfortunately the last tenants got color happy. When I moved in though, the apartment was bright and new again. Even then I still had my reservations.
I had to figure out a new route to work. Before I was a short 10-minute walk from my job. Now I was a bus ride and a walk up Montrose. I would also be further from the night life.
The latter was less of a drawback. I hadn't gone out much since the search for a new place began. To be honest I am growing tired of the scene, but I like to see my friends occasionally.

The other big change was in my job. For the last six years I've worked at the same grocery store. The buzz surrounding the new store had grown steadily as grand opening approached. I didn't give it a second thought until my department manger contacted me about possibly going to the new location. At first I thought it would be a temporary assignment and then I would go back to my regular post. However, there was some kind of miscommunication between my store manager and my department manager. What I understood would be temporary would actually be permanent. The store was across town in the burgeoning Memorial Heights area. Getting there would be a slight challenge, but my boss was willing to work with the bus schedule. Grand opening weekend at the new store arrived and I had my apprehensions. New store, new managers, new co-workers, and of course a different clientele. I put my fears aside and went into it like I would any other assignment. The first night was not so bad and I realized that the routine would be about the same as at my old store. After a busy opening weekend, I had finally adjusted. As much as I would miss my regular customers, business is business. My reasons for leaving my old post were many, but what it boiled down to was a new opportunity. The new store would be on the front lines of the battle for grocery customers. We were sandwiched between a Target which was already well established, and a new Walmart, the first ever inside the Loop. While many in the area were opposed to the new Walmart, it was built anyway. I went to both my store and the new Walmart for their opening and my store was better received. The opening of two new retailers in the area was a testament to the renewal that had occurred in the last decade. The Washington Avenue Corridor was in 2003 a place no one wanted to be after dark. Today the street is lined with bars, clubs, and restaurants. Swaths of rent houses were cleared to make way for apartment buildings, town houses, and strip malls. As Houston grows, the city will continue to change rapidly. Along Richmond Avenue, where I moved to, excavators scrape the land with extreme prejudice to make way for new developments. Where apartment complexes sprawled across entire city blocks will soon be replaced with mid-rise buildings. I'm a bit nervous because of how quickly they've moved, but I know for now my complex is safe. All I can do is roll with the changes both in my job and in my personal life.

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