A blueprint of the development at 20903 Highland Knolls Drive. Contributed Photo
A new Walmart Neighborhood Market location is slated to open at the apartment and retail development under construction at 20903 Highland Knolls Drive. Walmart director of communications William Wertz confirmed the store’s location in a July 1 email.
Construction is already underway at the site and there is no official opening date yet, but the store will be approximately 40,000-square-feet, Wertz said.
Houston-based Warwick Construction is managing construction. The company is also building two retail buildings, each 10,000-square-feet, adjacent to the future Walmart Neighborhood Market, said Bill Chenel, senior project manager for Warwick Construction.
The retail sites are not fully designed yet and the company is still waiting on final renderings of the project, Chenel said. No construction timeline has been released, but Chenel said the store could open as early as November.
Texas State Technical College officials joined state legislators and local officials June 25 to break ground on the new TSTC Fort Bend County campus in Rosenberg.
The groundbreaking marks the construction of the first of six to eight buildings on the 80-acre campus, located north of Hwy. 59 between FM 2218 and Hwy. 36. Construction of the first 110,000-square-foot building is expected to be complete and ready for classes August 2016.
“Although we have been in Fort Bend County teaching technical education for 15 years, this feels like a new beginning,” said Randy Wooten, TSTC Vice Chancellor and Executive-in-Charge for Fort Bend County. “[It is] new because the opportunity is great to grow and to significantly contribute to the economic development of Fort Bend County.”
The new facility will house various technical programs, including cyber security, industrial maintenance technology, telecommunications convergence technology and welding technology. Once complete, projections estimate the campus will serve more than 5,000 students, Wooten said.
The campus is projected to total more than $40 million, and the project will be funded by money raised by local organizations, the cities of Sugar Land, Richmond and Rosenberg and Fort Bend County. During the groundbreaking ceremony, the Rosenberg Development Corporation donated $2.5 million, followed by a $1 million donation from the Development Corporation of Richmond, to the Texas State Technical College Foundation.
Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert said the new TSTC campus will address the needs of the growing workforce in Richmond and Rosenberg and will help stimulate the local economy.
“We have lacked the depth, volume and variety of programs that a dedicated campus can offer for those who want higher education of a non-academic standard,” Hebert said. “With this groundbreaking today, we take a major step to being able to offer our youth training and high level workforce skills.”
The 84th Texas Legislature approved two bills leading to the creation and future funding of the new Rosenberg campus.
House Bill 658, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott May 23, establishes the new campus and was co-authored by state representatives John Zerwas, R-Richmond; Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City; Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land; and Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton. State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, sponsored the bill.
“HB 658 was the legislative vehicle for us to create what I think is going to be a groundbreaking event for many, many years to come for [Fort Bend County], for surrounding counties and ultimately the state of Texas,” Zerwas said. “This [bill] is such a clear testimony to the need out there.”
HB 100, signed by Abbott June 18, dedicates $14.9 million to the construction of a second building on the Rosenberg campus. The bill became the first tuition revenue bond to pass since 2006.
During its June 12 monthly meeting, the board of directors for the Energy Corridor Management District agreed to extend the district’s mission for another 10 years. The renewal follows petitions of support by property owners that were accepted during a May 22 public hearing on the issue.
Proposed Energy Corridor District transit improvements Design by Mary-Ann Zykin
The Texas Legislature founded the district as Harris County Improvement District No. 4 in 2001. The district was formed in large part to manage the I-10 lane expansion that began that year.
“Our current plan expired at the end of next year, but there’s so much planning that had to be done [residents petitioned to renew early],” district spokesperson Mark Klein said.“We originally had a five-year plan. That was renewed for 10 years, and now we’ve renewed another 10 years.”
Among the district’s top priorities is managing transportation mobility projects such as a new Energy Corridor Circular rush hour mass transit line that will run from the Addicks Park and Ride to destinations along Park Row, North Dairy Ashford Road, Eldridge Parkway, Memorial Drive and Hwy. 6.
Another long-range project is the Park Row Drive extension that will build a bridge over Langham Creek to connect the road from Eldridge Parkway to the forthcoming MD Anderson and Worthing Companies development that is collectively known as Central Park.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District issued a permit to complete the Park Row Drive project last September, said Isidro Reyna, USACE deputy chief of public affairs, in an emailed statement.
“The Corps’ Real Estate and Operations divisions are in the process of completing a report of availability which will allow the Energy Corridor Management District to complete construction of Park Row Drive. The final step to this process is finalizing a memorandum of agreement,” Reyna said in the statement.
Both Reyna and Klein said there is no timetable for completing that memorandum. An earlier phase of construction, which extended Park Row Drive from Addicks Park and Ride to Central Park West Boulevard, also went through the Corps approval process and was completed last year, Klein said.
Now that the district’s mission has been extended, the Harris County Appraisal District will set an appraisal rate for the district in October, Klein said.
He said the new rate is expected to bring in approximately $49.8 million in assessment revenue and will be divided between transportation projects, ongoing maintenance and security and public safety efforts.
“That’s the real advantage [to having a management district]—making sure projects are done,” Klein said.
At a June 11 special meeting called by the board of commissioners of Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48, the board voted to assemble a five-person committee to address grievances posed to the board by the West I-10 Volunteer Fire Department. At the meeting commissioners said the committee will include two members of the ESD board and three external members with no ties to either entity.
The committee is expected to review the grievances and arrive at a decision for further action within two to three weeks, the board said.
The two entities have been embroiled in a legal battle since Harris County ESD No. 48 announced in 2014 it sought to move paid staff of West I-10 VFD onto the county ESD No. 48 payroll and use a dual-model of emergency service that incorporates both paid and volunteer staff.
According to an official statement from Harris County ESD No. 48 president Marshall Kramer, the dual model required having a fire chief at West I-10 who is employed by the county. Fire Chief Jeffrey Hevey, an ESD No. 48 employee, served as West I-10 VFD chief until June 5, when the West I-10 VFD board voted to relieve him from duty.
At that time West I-10 board president Jose Ramirez filed a list of seven grievances against Hevey, these are the grievances to be addressed by the newly formed ESD No. 48 committee.
At the June 11 meeting, ESD No. 48 Vice President Frank Freeman resigned from his position, effective immediately, in order to help ease the transition to the new model of emergency service. He stated his belief that the new model is best for the community.
The official statement from Kramer said Hevey remains an employee of ESD No. 48 and the delivery of emergency services in the district will continue uninterrupted during the service transition.