The sounds of hammers banging and saws buzzing have become a regular part of the sound landscape in South Overton. The neighborhood is in the midst of a transformation, with new construction and remodels of older housing taking place on many of its streets.
Longtime friends and business partners, Ian Harper and Jeremy Evans of Lubbock, are restoring their eighth residential property in South Overton.
“You’ve got all sorts of different investors in this neighborhood, from guys that are doing it like us and just fixing up places, to ones that are buying empty lots or places that need to be demolished and building new,” Harper said.
South Overton had to wait its turn for a facelift after the first wave of Lubbock’s urban renewal hit the North Overton neighborhood in 1999. This is when the McDougal Land Company announced a plan to redevelop 325 acres of housing near Texas Tech.
The transformation of the area has marched at a consistent pace since the first building was demolished in January 2002. As dilapidated houses disappeared, the neighborhood’s appearance changed along with its name: Overton Park.
The development was one of the most ambitious urban renewal projects, and was led by private developer Delbert McDougal, according to A-J Media archives.
North Overton was once one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lubbock, with the first house built in 1908. McDougal said the neighborhood was old and falling apart in the late 1990s. Despite housing only 2 percent of the city’s population, the area accounted for 28 percent of the city’s crime.
McDougal obtained all 325 acres with the help of loans from City Bank, American State Bank and Plains Capital Bank.
His mission was to reclaim the neighborhood from deterioration, complement the growth of Tech and contribute to the revitalization of Lubbock’s downtown area, he said.
The area targeted for redevelopment had 733 parcels of land, with 167 of them being owner-occupied, single-family residences, the A-J reported. The remaining properties were apartments, rental houses and vacant lots.
In 2002, three years after the development was announced, Marc McDougal told the A-J the Lubbock Independent School District collected $224,000 from the taxpayers in the North Overton area. In 2013, he said, the district collected almost $4.5 million.
The renewal is good for Lubbock’s economy. During the first eight months of 2015, residential home and garage remodels in Lubbock were valued at more than $4.8 million, according to the most recent Lubbock Building Inspection Statistical Report.
Steve McGaw, a longtime South Overton resident, hopes more people invest in the neighborhood and restore its older homes.
“The house across the street has been empty for almost 20 years,” he said. “It’s a shame.”
Harper advises prospective buyers to be aware of all the possible things that could be wrong with an older home.
“Unless you know how to do work on foundations or do the plumbing, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble,” he said. “You can walk through a house and think it seems pretty good, and it’s in absolutely horrendous shape.”
Evans’ and Harper’s current reclamation project was once occupied by squatters and known as a drug house before being condemned by the city. The two plan to have the building move-in-ready by summer.
“All of the properties that we renovate we plan on renting to college students and families,” Harper said.
Evans said South Overton is filled with good people who have witnessed the decline of their neighborhood and deserve to see its resurgence.
“I think eventually this neighborhood will end similar to Tech Terrace if the university keeps pushing its student enrollment up and up,” he said.
(A-J Media reporter Matt Dotray contributed to this story)
This article was produced by The Hub@College of Media & Communication, an online student media production at Texas Tech. www.ttuhub.net