West University Place, often called West University or West U for short, is a city located in the U.S. state of Texas within the metropolitan area and Harris County. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the population of the city was 14,211.
West University Place is completely surrounded by the cities of Houston, Bellaire, and Southside Place. The city is nicknamed "The Neighborhood City" as the city is mainly a bedroom community for upper-middle class families.
As of 2000, West University Place is the 8th wealthiest location in Texas by per capita income. West University continues to develop as one of the most desirable and affluent parts of the Houston area.
The United States Postal Service uses "Houston" as a city designation for all West University Place addresses; "West University Place" is also acceptable for any West University Place address
Almost all streets in West University Place are allusions to universities, colleges, and poets throughout the United States and the world.
John Nova Lomax, a journalist, stated in a 2008 Houston Press article that, due to the growth and dominance of Houston, municipal enclaves with their own services, including West University Place, "are little more than glorified neighborhoods.
On December 17, 1998, a pediatric geneticist and neurology researcher, Claudia Benton, was murdered in her West University Place home by Ángel Maturino Reséndiz, who would eventually be known as a serial killer.
The city's boundaries are: Kirby Drive to the East, Union Pacific St. Louis Southwestern Railway railroad track to the West, Bellaire Boulevard/West Holcombe Boulevard to the South, and Bissonnet and Law Streets to the North. Viewed on a map, the city shape resembles a little house, with a "chimney" to the West side, and since it surrounds the even small city of Southside Place, a "door" is formed on the map surrounding Southside Place.
There were 5,286 households out of which 43.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.0% were married couples living together, 6.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.2% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the city the population was spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 2.9% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 29.9% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $130,721, and the median income for a family was $157,312. Males had a median income of $100,000 versus $65,739 for females. The per capita income for the city was $69,674. About 0.9% of families and 1.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 2.0% of those age 65 or over.
West University Place is dominated by upper-middle class families living in single-family housing. Originally West University Place had small cottages. Many of these cottages were torn down and replaced with large two story houses.
The city council runs the city of West University Place. The council contains the mayor and four city council members. The city council, elected on a non-partisan basis, is elected during the first Saturday in the May of every odd-numbered year. Each member serves a term of two years. Members may serve for not more than two successive terms in each office. The council enacts legislation, adopts budgets, establishes policies and appoints the city manager, city secretary, city municipal court judges, prosecutors, and clerks.
The city manager carries out the operation of city activities. The city secretary manages the city council and maintains ordinances, resolutions, meeting minutes, and legally required publications. The city attorney gives the city council general counsel, litigation, contract review, and ordinance review.
West University Place's sewage treatment plant and animal pound are located on a lot in the Braeswood Place neighborhood of Houston across from The Rice School . West University Place has one water towers. The image to the right is a West University Place water tower within the neighboring City of Southside Place.
The city permits smoking within the single bar in the city limits, the Marquis II; in contrast, the City of Houston banned cigarette smoking within its bars.
West University Place is located in District 134 of the Texas House of Representatives. As of 2008 Ellen Cohen represents the district. West University Place is within District 17 of the Texas Senate.
There are about 26 subdivisions in West University Place.
One is called "Rice Court", which is located north of University and east of Buffalo Speedway. Rice Court once was distinguished by blue tile markers; the markers began to disappear around the 1990s.
"Pemberton" is an area south of University and east of Wakeforest. People living in the area were fond of restoration of older houses, and is home to some of West U's most expensive homes.
There is another section called "Colonial Terrace" that is west of Weslayan and is near the railroad tracks. Originally it was the least developed part of West University Place. By 2000 this area was as built up and popular as other areas within West University Place.
Subdivisions inside West University Place include Rice Court, Pemberton, Colonial Terrace, Sunset Terrace, Cunningham Terrace, Evanston, Matthews Place, Kent Place, Monticello, Virginia Court, Belle Court, College Court Place, Collegeview, Preston Place, Pershing Place, Academy, Quenby Court, Bissonnet Place, Fairhaven, College Park, and Krenzler Courts. Some sections are simply known as West University Place.
Average 2007 assessed tax values in the subdivisions of West University Place range from around $500,000 to nearly $1,000,000. For the community as a whole, average per-square-foot sales prices have risen over 50 percent since 2003, from less than $200 per square foot to nearly $300 per square foot. Statistics like these are skewed by the demographics of the homes in West University; very large custom homes less than 15 years old, which sell for $2,000,000 or more often stand next to small bungalows (1920s, 1930s, 1940s) which may sell for little more than land value ($50-$100+/square foot).
Pupils who live in West University Place are zoned to West University Elementary, Pershing Middle School in the Braeswood Place neighborhood of Houston, and Lamar High School , in the Upper Kirby district of Houston. All pupils zoned to Pershing may attend Pin Oak Middle School (in the city of Bellaire) instead.
Gabriela Mistral Early Childhood Center is the closest public early childhood center to the city of West University Place. Since only economically-disadvantaged students, homeless students, students who are not proficient in English, or children of active-duty members of the U.S. military or whose parent has been killed, injured, or missing in action while on active duty may enroll in early childhood centers, most West University Place residents rely on private preschools. Beehive, a preschool located on the grounds of West University Elementary, serves many pupils from West University Place, Southside Place, and other communities. Students who are eligible for HISD's preschools may attend any Early Childhood Center in Houston ISD.
St. Mark's Episcopal School (K-8) is the sole private school located within West University Place. Other nearby parochial schools and private schools include the School of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church in Braeswood Place in Houston, St. John's School in Houston, Episcopal High School in Bellaire, and Post Oak Montessori School in Bellaire.
The Harris County Public Library system operates a branch in West University Place, and the Houston Public Library system operates the McGovern-Stella Link Branch south of West University Place in a nearby area in Houston.
The West University Examiner is a local newspaper distributed in the community.
The Village News is a local newspaper distributed in the community.
The West University Buzz is a monthly magazine mailed free of charge to all residents.
The closest YMCA is the Weekley Family YMCA in Houston's Braeswood Place neighborhood. The Weekley Family YMCA used to be in a complex owned by West University Place. The complex is now the West University Place Recreation Center.
West University Place has a little league team called the "West University Little League" West University Little League was established in 1949, and is the largest Little League Baseball group in the United States, with more than 1,200 players, after merging with Braes Bayou Little League in 2005. Former first lady Barbara Bush threw out the first pitch on opening day 2005, in honor of the establishment of West University Little League's Challenger Division, which promotes opportunities for mentally and/or physically-challenged children to participate in baseball games, many with the help of "buddies" who guide these players through the game. The West University Little League Challenger division will send one team to Williamsport, PA for an exhibition game during the 2008 Little League World Series festivities.