Several developers of master-planned communities are targeting the West Lake Houston Parkway corridor—which travels from Kingwood through Atascocita down to Beltway 8.

Metrostudy Regional Director Lawrence Dean said via email that master-planned communities make up the majority of communities that produced the most new homes under construction in the Greater Houston area from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

In fact, three Lake Houston-area communities ranked among the 30 communities with the most new homes under construction in that time period. Two of the communities—The Groves and Balmoral—are in the 77044 ZIP code, according to Metrostudy data. The third community, Tavola, is in southeast Montgomery County.

Mark Mitchell, the president of the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership, said he believes the Lake Houston area has become attractive to single-family home developers in recent years.

According to May 2019 data from data consulting company Esri, the 77044 ZIP code—which includes the Beltway 8 area—is anticipated to increase by 11,543 households from 94,099 in 2018 to 105,642 households in 2023.

“Our population is projected to be over 300,000 by 2023, and I think we’re on pace to hit those numbers in terms of the overall population growth,” Mitchell said. “I think that the single-family and the multifamily [developments] are tracking with that growth because 77044 is one of the fastest-growing ZIP codes in the Houston metro.”

A growing ZIP code

Dean said master-planned communities stand apart from other single-family developments in that they typically offer a wide variety of home types, styles, sizes and lot sizes as well as various amenities, educational opportunities and retail development.

The two master-planned communities in 77044 ranked among the most new homes under construction in Metrostudy’s report are Ashlar Development’s The Groves and Land Tejas Development Co.’s Balmoral community, which saw 234 and 229 new homes under construction, respectively, from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

The developments are estimated to bring thousands of new homes to the region in the next five years, officials said.

The Groves, a 993-acre community, opened in 2014 and will feature 2,200 single-family homes upon build-out in the next five to 10 years as well as retail and multiuse space. Ashlar Development Vice President Mike Miller said he believes the community is in the optimal spot due to its wooded landscape, access to the Beltway and its proximity to 4,000-acre mixed-use development Generation Park.

“Beltway 8 came and extended throughout this northeast corridor, and when that extension was made, a lot of developers saw an opportunity along the West Lake Houston [Parkway] corridor for these really nice developments,” Miller said.

Royce Brooks, the senior marketing manager for Ashlar Development, said the development caters to a mix of demographics, but Ashlar recently premiered 40- and 45-foot lot options from three homebuilders to attract millennials and younger families.

“Initially, you couldn’t live in The Groves for under the $240,000s, so that impacts the community in itself because it’s more affordable and attainable homes but still with quality builders,” Brooks said.

The 750-acre, master-planned Balmoral is also bringing new homes to the region. Tim Johnson, the director of community sales and marketing at Land Tejas Development Co., said the community will feature single-family homes and commercial and retail space when complete.

Johnson said the community’s first homes opened in early 2017, and there are now 400 completed homesites. Upon build-out, which is estimated to be in the next five years, the Balmoral community will feature approximately 2,200 single-family homes.

Balmoral’s demographics also vary, Johnson said, with homebuyers ranging from young and working-class families to empty nesters. He said the community attracts residents with its range of lot sizes, home prices and amenities.

“Homebuyers are savvy, and they like communities that have high-end amenity packages,” Johnson said.

Humble ISD growth plans

To prepare for the future influx of single-family homes, Humble ISD has set aside various land parcels across the Lake Houston area for proposed campuses as well as opened new campuses to meet the population demands.

The district opened two schools near The Groves community in the last two years: Groves Elementary in August 2017 and West Lake Middle School in August 2018. Additionally, the district’s $575 million bond referendum from May 2018 will fund Elementary School No. 30, which will open August 2021 in the Fall Creek community located southwest of Balmoral and The Groves.

Meanwhile, Elementary School No. 29, which will be funded from the district’s 2008 bond, is set to open in August 2020 in the Lakewood Pines neighborhood off West Lake Houston Parkway, said Nolan Correa, the associate superintendent for operational support services at HISD.

Balmoral will also include at least one future HISD school within the community’s boundaries, as Middle School No. 10 is set to open in August 2020, Correa said. This district has also purchased roughly 100 acres near The Groves for the proposed future High School No. 7 and a middle school, projects which Correa said do not have timelines.

Correa said the district will continue to monitor enrollment trends at Summer Creek and Atascocita high schools to determine when the district will need to move forward on building more schools in the area.

“We monitor [the growth] right now to make sure that we have property [ready], and we try and forecast over the years using our [Population and Survey Analysts] studies to find out where we see growth in our school enrollment in various schools,” Correa said.

This appeared in print as one of our 4 Real Estate Trends. View our other Real Estate Edition coverage.