The city of Shenandoah approved a zoning measure to move forward on three major developments that could potentially add 3,000 new residents to the city. At a March 25 City Council meeting, the proposal was approved in preliminary stages to add more than 75 acres of retail, residential and office buildings on the east side of I-45, and a new community of homes on the west side of I-45.

Palmetto Homes will build an 8.75-acre, 99-unit development called The Village at East End, a live and work community. Sam Moon Group will build a 69-acre metropark, which will include an entertainment venue, hotels, high-rise office buildings, apartments, restaurants and retail. Both of these projects are located east of I-45.

"This is probably a three-to five-year [process]," Shenandoah Mayor Garry Watts said. "There are some wetland issues that will take work with the [Army] Corps of Engineering. We have city drainage, water and sewer projects that we've allocated money for."

Watts said the city is working with the developers and the city engineers to make sure that the infrastructure is adequate for the size of the project.

"It's a massive project. I think that it's between $500 [million] and $700 million between the two projects," Watts said.

The city will be affected financially as well as operationally, City Administrator Greg Smith said.

"The most critical thing is the infrastructure," Smith said. "The developers will [install] the majority of the infrastructure. We have enough water. We have enough capacity in the sewer plant. So [from] the water and sewer standpoint, it's basically installing the lines to serve the water and wastewater."

Smith said that other than water and sewer, mobility issues remain a concern for development of the project. He said construction on Hwy. 242 has exacerbated traffic congestion but only temporarily.

"We feel that once that construction [on Hwy. 242] is completed, there will be a positive improvement on traffic," Smith said. "Those improvements were built to help alleviate the traffic congestion. We'll [eventually] have the relief of the construction ending and then we'll have the benefit of the new infrastructure at Hwy. 242."

The extension will begin at David Memorial Drive—now referred to as the north-south extension— parallel Main Street in Conroe and end at Hwy. 242. Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital is building a new hospital northwest of the proposed extension.

The extension of David Memorial Drive is inevitable, Watts said. If the proposed $350 million Montgomery County road bond does not meet voter approval in May, the city of Shenandoah will pay to build the road up to its city limits, which is just short of reaching Hwy. 242.

"We'll use taxpayers' money, and then we'll put an impact fee on developers," Watts said. "So we get the money back. If we want to get this through to the [Houston Methodist] hospital before they get their project done, then we'll take it to our city limits, and we'll have to work in conjunction with Conroe and [the] Methodist Hospital to get the extension done because they want it also."

If the road bond passes, Watts said Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark has money allocated for the David Memorial Drive extension.

"[The development is] going to happen," Watts said. "It's about who pays for it and how it's paid for."

Watts said the David Memorial Drive extension should include five lanes, with two lanes for traffic and one lane in the middle dedicated to turns.

"We need to plan for the future," he said. "I don't want to build it today based on today's [population]. There will be an engineering study that will dictate whether it's four lanes [or] five lanes."

During the council meeting, a measure was also approved to allow David Weekley Homes to begin building a 32-home subdivision across from Tuscany Woods off of Wellman Road. The subdivision, which will be called Wellman Manor, will be a gated community. Home prices will range from $600,000-$650,000.

The population of Shenandoah could reach 5,000 residents with these new developments. As of the last census, Shenandoah had 2,315 residents.

"I hope to get to 5,000 people so we can go from a general law city to a home rule city in the next three to five years," Watts said. "A general law city is mandated by the state of Texas. A home rule city can rewrite the charter and do anything they want."