Cover Story: Glenbrook Valley's Historic Preservation Fight

Robert Searcy and Joe Ablaza have something in common: They each think they're doing good things for their neighborhood.

And that's about it.

Real estate agent Searcy and working professional Ablaza live in Glenbrook Valley, the southeast Houston subdivision that's striving to become Texas's first post-World War II historic district. The area, which was once known as "The Little River Oaks," saw its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s when many of the local Italians set up shop in the subdivision that's located near Hobby Airport.

Today's visitor to Glenbrook Valley will witness Houston's largest collection of mid-century modern homes. Searcy, a die-hard fanatic of the architectural style, moved to the neighborhood after discovering its "time capsule" feel. He thinks that a pending historic district honor will help further preserve the area's throwback essence.

Joe Ablaza and his wife Leticia, however, feel that a majority of Glenbrook Valley dwellers don't want the historic preservation designation to go through. In their minds, petition signatures were gathered under false -- and racist -- circumstances. That's why the Ablazas have gone out of their way to gather retraction signatures, speak out in City Council and stage protest rallies in front of City Hall.

Due to the differing opinions, the neighborhood has, according to a number of residents, flipped from a quiet and friendly place to a "war zone." Longtime neighbors aren't speaking anymore, people are scared to answer their doors and some are trying to move. One side has even accused the other side of dumping trash and decomposing cats into people's front yards.

After a long wait, a resolution looks to be in the works. As of the time this post was published, City Council had planned on placing the Glenbrook Valley historic district item on its June 29 agenda.

No word on if the dead cats will be in attendance.

Read this week's cover story, "War Zoned," here.

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