By comparison, Pearland, one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., only tripled in size in the past 20 years.
Manvel has roughly 10,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 estimates. The city projects it will have between 130,000 to 150,000 residents in the next 20-25 years.
“There is no projected time for any kind of slowdown,” Manvel Mayor Debra Davison said.
To meet the needs of present and future Manvel residents, the city is focusing on development.
The city plans to build a 150-acre City Center Complex, which will provide entertainment as well as opportunities for small-business owners, Council Member Lorraine Hehn said.
The City Council voted to raise the tax rate on Sept. 17 to pay for the upcoming needs of the city as well, Hehn said.
“It’s never a pleasant topic about taxes, but our taxes have remained the same ... in the last 15 years,” Davison said. “It’s time for us to have a significant tax increase... It’s a matter of creating a community.”
The city of Manvel would like to provide entertainment to residents as well as be a destination for those outside the city, Davison said.
“We don’t want to be a bedroom community, and we won’t be,” she said.
Weitzman owns over 200 acres of land for the Manvel Town Center at the intersection of Hwy. 6 and Hwy. 288. The city purchased land in July near the SouthPointe Crossing development, which will become the City Center Complex. While the town center is expected to include an H-E-B grocery store—the first for the city—and retail, the City Center Complex will house City Hall, small businesses, walking trails and sports facilities. The city is still in the planning stages for the project, City Manager Kyle Jung said.
Manvel City Council approved a tax rate of $0.69 per $100 valuation, a 12-cent increase, to fund development and infrastructure to accommodate the coming growth, Hehn said.
“It is a tax hike we all had to do together, but we did it together because we are all going to do this together,” Hehn said.
According to Hehn, had there been minimal tax increases in the past, the city could have started developing earlier and prepared for the future.
“We made the decision and we did it. We are jumping first. We aren’t waiting for a developer to come show us some pretty pictures and say, ‘This is what it could be.’ We already know what it could be,” Hehn said.
The city has identified at least 11 major roads to be upgraded or redesigned to become thoroughfares, Jung said. However, the city is waiting for developers to build roads around their properties before investing in streets.
In addition to roads running through the city, the completion of the Brazoria County Expressway will provide relief to citizens, officials said. The Brazoria County Expressway, a toll road running alongside north- and southbound Hwy. 288, is expected to be completed in 2019, which will bring more growth to both Pearland and Manvel, Pearland City Manager Clay Pearson said.
“A growing, healthy, vibrant city of Manvel and Alvin is good for them and for the Pearland community,” Pearson said in an email. “The next decade will see great opportunities for all Brazoria County.”
The toll road will provide a smoother morning commute for those who work in the Texas Medical Center and in downtown Houston, as many Manvel residents do, Jung said.
“It’s going to be huge. I think that one of the challenges for Brazoria County residents is trying to get to Houston early in the morning,” Precinct 2 County Commissioner Ryan Cade said. “It’s going to be a much-needed shot in the arm.”
The county could play a role in infrastructure as the city needs it, Cade said. However, it is too soon to tell what the need might be.
“I think the county has planned for years for that growth. We are in a strong position financially to make the investments that need to be made,” Cade said.
As the city prepares for the imminent growth, it needs to decide how to grow, Jung said. This includes thinking about the demographics the city wants to see as well as the attractions it wants to hold.
When deciding on plans for the City Center Complex, Manvel officials determined it should have large soccer, baseball, and softball fields and facilities, Jung said.
“There aren’t many tournament-level complexes in Houston, so we thought it would be an economic drive,” Jung said. “We are about 20 minutes from Houston Hobby [Airport]. Someone will be flying and can be here in a short period of time.”
While the city is still dreaming up amenities, the residential growth continues. There are 11 subdivisions under construction, with more to come.
Pomona is one of the subdivisions under development in Manvel. While residents enjoy the amenities in Pearland, the growth in Manvel will give them even more options, said Russ Bynum, general manager for Houston Hillwood Communities, which oversees the development. The development, located west of Hwy. 288, is also convenient for those commuting into downtown Houston and the TMC, as many Manvel residents do, Bynum said.
“From a location preference and placement, we really feel like we couldn’t be in a better place,” Bynum said.
These subdivisions determine the population, density and demographics of the city, which are all things the city has to look at as it builds, Jung said.
“You only get to build a development once. So, we have to make sure that the developers are building the city the way the citizens want, the way the City Council has approved,” Jung said.
For Manvel, this means being intentional about the subdivisions being built, as well as the services the city will provide. The city is considering a limit of 2.5 to 3.5 houses per acre, which would determine the density of the city. The city also will provide necessities, including transportation and emergency services, but is also planning for parks and trails when the time comes.
“People are moving from somewhere, and they have an idea of what they are coming to Manvel for,” Jung said. “We have to be able to provide what we can provide and what the citizens come to expect.”
Challenges to come
While the city wants to improve shopping opportunities for its citizens, one of the challenges the city faces is growing its small businesses. According to Davison, the city does not have much existing retail and office space for small-business owners to rent. Until developers build that space, options are limited.
Developers are starting to build around Hwy. 6. As roughly 6 miles of the highway run through Manvel, there will be space to increase retail in the city, Jung said.
“We have a lack of retail, office space, anything like that for smaller businesses. We just simply don’t have very much for rentable commercial space,” Jung said. “That is something that I think is going to happen in a relatively short amount of time.”
Another problem the city faces is providing water to future residents. Officials are considering the city of Pearland, the Gulf Coast Water Authority and the Brazos River Water Authority as possible sources of water.
“Pearland has water rights for multiple sources and sufficient quantities of raw water for our future needs and beyond,” Pearson said. “We have enough capacity to sell if there is interest and can help our neighbors for a win-win.”
According to Jung, the city would need around 18.5 million gallons of water per day to accommodate the projected 150,000 people, which includes people living in municipal utility districts that provide water today. As it stands, the city provides 200,000 gallons with the help of MUDs providing water to their subdivisions.
“We haven’t secured that yet, but that is one of the things we are going to have to deal with in the relatively near future. If there is available water, then obviously the city is going to have to pay for that, and obviously, it’s going to be expensive,” Jung said. “But, if you don’t have the water, you’re never going to have the people move here.”