Commercial development booms in Spring

Both the 385-acre ExxonMobil campus in Springwoods Village and segments F-1, F-2 and G of the Grand Parkway are scheduled for completion by the end of 2015. The community around them, however, continues to evolve as several commercial and mixed-use projects are breaking ground nearby.

Not only will the projects bring new jobs and new employees to the region to spend money in the community, but new retail development will provide more retail opportunities to Spring and Klein residents than ever before.

"I've been living here on [FM] 2920 for 18 years, and I'm excited; I talk to other residents [and] they're excited," said Myeshi Briley, president of the Spring-Klein Chamber of Commerce. "Just to be able to spend money in my own community, that's what I'm excited about."

Second energy corridor

With thousands of employees already working in the new ExxonMobil and Southwestern Energy campuses in Springwoods Village and other oil and gas expansions in the region, Spring and Klein seem to be at the heart of another energy corridor in the northern Greater Houston area.

"It's starting to develop," said Ron Smith, director of support services for Southwestern Energy. "The west side [of Houston] used to have one, and now it looks like we're going to have one on the north side."

Smith said construction is now complete on Southwestern Energy's 580,000-square-foot campus in Springwoods Village. About 1,100 employees had moved into the campus by late December and the building expected to reach capacity of 1,500 employees soon, he said.

David Eglinton, upstream media relations manager for ExxonMobil, said construction of ExxonMobil's Springwoods Village campus is also on track for completion by the end of 2015. About 3,600 employees of the campus' estimated 10,000 employees are already working there, he said.

In addition to the growth within Spring, other oil and gas companies in the region continue to develop their respective headquarters in the area.

Construction continues on Noble Energy's second 20-story tower at Hwy. 249 and Louetta Road, while the Baker Hughes Western Hemisphere Education Center in Tomball and Anadarko Petroluem's second tower in The Woodlands both opened in 2014.

Mixed-use and retail

Estimated to house 1 million square feet of retail upon completion, the Springwoods Village community saw construction begin on the 60-acre CityPlace project in 2014. CityPlace will feature as many as 13 office buildings with retail on the first floor as well as two hotels. The first hotel—a Residence Inn on the western edge of CityPlace—is slated to open in mid-2015.
"Until out-of-town investors and users get on an airplane and drive the site, they [can't] understand the magnitude of what's going on with the Grand Parkway, the Hardy Toll Road and the ExxonMobil effect."
- Trey Halberdier, founder of Halberdier Real Estate

Even the ExxonMobil campus itself houses retail and support services.

"There are a variety of retailers on-site," Eglinton said. "They provide a range of services, including banking and dry cleaning services, a pharmacy, an optical store, hair and nail salons, gourmet food and gift shops."

Just east of I-45 out of Springwoods Village, Halberdier Real Estate has more than 60 acres of projects planned, Halberdier Founder Trey Halberdier said.

The largest parcel—the 40-acre Hardy North Business Park—is at the southwest corner of the Hardy Toll and Riley Fuzzel roads. The mixed-use project contains plans for about 450 apartments and 40,000-plus square feet of office condos. Construction on the project could begin in June.

"There's a major push to clean up the Spring area east of Hardy," Halberdier said. "There's nice developments back there, [and] we want to service those users."

Proximity to ExxonMobil and access to the Hardy Toll Road are major draws to the location, Halberdier said. The site also allows tenants to avoid the traffic and high prices of The Woodlands.

"Until out-of-town investors and users get on an airplane and drive the site, they [can't] understand the magnitude of what's going on with the Grand Parkway, the Hardy Toll Road and the ExxonMobil effect," he said. "I do believe there's a pocket of tremendous activity in south Montgomery County and north Harris County."

Just southeast of Springwoods Village at I-45 and FM 1960, commercial real estate company Colliers International continues work on Cypress Preserve Park, a high-end office warehouse development that could house 1.5 million square feet of industrial building space and 500,000 square feet of retail space upon completion, Colliers Principal Todd Edmonds said.

Much of the interest in the office and warehouse space has come from the technology sector, Edmonds said. Additionally, he expects to see interest from ancillary oil and gas businesses that hope to be close to nearby energy companies.

"It's the largest business park site in north Houston," he said. "It [offers] an alternative to groups that want to be close to The Woodlands or close to Exxon[Mobil], but they don't have land available for it."

The Grand Parkway is also a major draw for the Grand Parkway Town Center, a 60-acre mixed-use development at Hwy. 249 and the Grand Parkway that could bring more than 370,000 square feet of retail space and at least 200,000 square feet of office space to the region.

David Meyers, director of leasing for the development's owner, Newquest Properties, said Newquest is already negotiating with as many as six or seven businesses for the 17 pad sites planned within the development. Meyers said the grocery anchor could open by early 2016, although any office development will likely take longer.

Meyers said retail has not grown at quite the pace of residential and other commercial projects, but he believes the Greater Houston area will see more retail projects in 2015 and 2016.

"Retail always lags," Meyers said. "It's single-family, then office, then industrial and then retail. Collectively as an industry, we haven't seen an inordinate amount of retail built in the last five or six years. Clearly anything new that gets built today that's well anchored, there's a high demand for it."

Development effects

Briley said growth within the region makes it easier to take advantage of retail and entertainment options nearby.

"When I moved here, I used to drive to different areas far out just to go to a movie theater that I would like to go to," she said.

The chamber president said the influx of large corporate campuses and an educated workforce has also created a dynamic business community in the Spring/Klein area with small and large businesses coexisting among several different industries.

"You have so many different individuals in so many lines of business here," she said. "They're all working on the same playing field. That creates a dynamic, thriving area."

However, growth has also brought congestion on the roadways, said Jack Searcy, chairman of the government affairs and transportation committee for the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce. Searcy, a Spring resident since 1976, said transportation has not kept up with the rapid development in recent years in Spring.

"We're seeing [growth] as a result of the development rather than the transportation causing the development," Searcy said.

Searcy said he believes the state and county are doing as much as they can with the resources they have, but he is concerned about congestion in the community, especially where state roads meet county roads.

Searcy said traffic is already a concern at FM 1960 intersections at Stuebner Airline Road and Champion Forest Drive—which could see increased northbound and southbound traffic once the Grand Parkway opens next year—as well as the Hwy. 249 intersections with Cypresswood Drive and Louetta and Spring Cypress roads.

"We better get our transportation going or we're going to choke on the growth," Searcy said.

He said the benefits of the growth ultimately outweigh the negative effects.

"Prosperity is prosperity, which beats the daylights out of the alternative," he said.
By Matt Stephens
Matt Stephens joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2012. A Tomball native and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Matt joined as a reporter for The Woodlands team before being promoted to help launch the Spring | Klein edition in spring of 2014 and later to North Houston managing editor in late 2015. He has served as managing editor to the Phoenix and Nashville papers since August 2020.


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