Victor Alvarez is a longtime Spring Branch resident, and member of the board of directors of the Spring Branch Management District.
You were born in Mexico. How did you end up in Spring Branch?
I’m an industrial engineer by training, and I owned a number of factories in Mexico City. Then in 1995, I sold the factories and moved to Houston with my family. I had this money that I got from selling the factories, so I decided to put it into real estate.
Why did you choose to live in Spring Branch?
My father was a muralist, and Houston was his hub. He would drive up with the family to Houston to sell his art, and we would stay with his friends in the Spring Branch area. So when I was in Houston for a few weeks, I would go to Spring Branch Elementary School. This was the early 1960s, and there was nothing else to do in Spring Branch. We would chase dogs, kick balls around, play catch. There were dirt roads and swamps. I was here when they inaugurated the Katy Freeway. So when I decided to move to Houston, that’s why I chose Spring Branch.
And then you got into the real estate market.
I thought, if I’m going to brag about Spring Branch, I should put my money behind my tongue, so I decided to invest in Spring Branch real estate. We built a nice house for ourselves. Actually, our house transformed our neighborhood, because we were the first 8,000-square-foot home north of I-10. Now it’s small compared to the monsters they’re building.
How did you first get involved volunteering in the community?
I got involved in Mayor Brown’s super neighborhoods project. This was the East Super Neighborhood back then. That got me interested in politics. Everyone was talking about how to bring Spring Branch together—the schools and the churches, and the Hispanic community. So I said, it’s simple, let’s throw a party. I noticed we didn’t have a parade, so I said, “Let’s do a parade.” We called it the Multicultural Parade, and it went along Long Point from Wirt to Campbell. We did it from 2002 to 2007, and it was very successful.
How did you get involved with the Spring Branch Management District?
When I first heard that people were trying to start it, back in 2005, I didn’t know what a management district was. I asked people, and they said, “It’s a super neighborhood with money.” I said, in that case I’m interested. Because now we can actually do something. Now we can do projects.
What is your proudest accomplishments as a member of the Spring Branch Management District’s board of directors?
First, I’m proud of being a catalyst for helping create the district. Second, I’m really proud of the branding of Spring Branch. When I first moved here in 1995, the perception of Spring Branch was that it was so run down, with lots of crime. I was disappointed, because that’s not the way I saw it. So part of the management district’s service plan was to invest in safety and beautification, and another part was to promote the district. We came up with the tagline, “The Heart of Houston,” which I love. Everything in real estate is location, location, location, right? Well, Spring Branch has a great location. So we helped open Houston’s eyes to our area.