Jersey Village seeks to start major city projects

Jersey Village is looking to build a new City Hall within Village Center, a development underway south of Hwy. 290 along Jones Road.

Jersey Village is looking to build a new City Hall within Village Center, a development underway south of Hwy. 290 along Jones Road.

Image description
Jersey Village seeks to start major city projects in 2020
Image description
Jersey Village seeks to start major city projects in 2020

The city of Jersey Village plans to embark on several major capital projects over the next few years that city officials said are intended to refresh the city’s look and boost its reputation.


Budget projects for the 2019-20 fiscal year a new City Hall facility. Officials also anticipate construction to begin at Village Center, a planned 43-acre, mixed-use center along Jones Road. Meanwhile, the start of construction on a new convention center at the Jersey Meadow Golf Course has been delayed as city officials revisit options for the project.


Ultimately, officials said they hope to start drawing in more outsiders to spend money at local businesses.


“We are trying to be much more aggressive in our approach to economic development,” City Manager Austin Bleess said.


At the same time, city officials are asking for less tax money from residents. An increase in homestead exemptions garnered unanimous approval from the Jersey Village City Council in June, which translates to a decrease in property tax revenue for the city of about $290,000 from the previous year.


The combined effects of the increase in spending and the drop in tax revenue led the city to adopt a $4 million deficit budget for fiscal year 2019-20 at a Sept. 16 meeting. At that meeting, Jersey Village Mayor Andrew Mitcham said the deficit is by design.


“We’ve drawn quite the surplus over the last few years, and now it’s time for the city to start spending that down,” Mitcham said.



Creating a destination


One of the driving forces behind several of the city’s capital projects—as well as the Village Center—is an effort to make Jersey Village more of a destination, Mitcham said.


Mitcham, who was elected mayor in May after serving two terms as a City Council member, said his initial involvement in city politics stemmed from a feeling that development had passed the city by.


“Arriving back in Jersey Village after growing up there, everything was very much the same, which is not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “But if my wife and I wanted to go on a date night, we’d essentially go farther out into Cypress or into CityCentre.”


Saul Valentin is the founder of Collaborate, the architecture and development firm brought on board by the city to build Village Center. He said he believes mobility improvements along Hwy. 290 have left the city primed for growth.


“When we started to really do to the market research, [Hwy.] 290 was the only highway in Houston to not have a big development. I-10 has CityCentre. I-45 has The Woodlands. Hwy. 59 has the Sugar Land Town Square,” he said. “The fact that the city had this land available was just like all the stars aligning.”


Upon completion, the 43-acre center is expected to feature a mix of retail, dining, multifamily, hotel and green space, Valentin said. Construction on City Hall could kick off in February at the site, Bleess said.


City officials are also planning a new convention center at the Jersey Meadow Golf Course, which Bleess said should serve as another source of outside revenue. However, original plans for a two-story project are being reanalyzed and a project timeline is unclear.


After bids came back in July, the lowest bid came in at $5.1 million, higher than the $3.6 million the city was hoping to spend. At an Oct. 14 Jersey Village City Council meeting, council members received several options from city staff to keep the project closer to its budget, including reimagining the building as a single-story facility.


After some discussion, council members opted to allow city staff to regroup with plans to schedule a future workshop. Council members were largely in agreement that the existing golf course facility needs to be torn down and replaced.


"We've got to remember the mission," Council Member Drew Wasson said. "It's to kind of set a new step ... to get a building the community can use, beyond just Jersey Village, to draw people in and be a signature place for Jersey Meadow."

At the Sept. 16 meeting, resident Randy Raimond told the Jersey Village City Council he thinks investing in the golf course is a good idea.


“The clubhouse will only enhance the community,” he said. “I think our property values will increase because of those decisions.”


Resident Simon Hughes said he appreciates the city's efforts to improve entertainment and leisure offerings in Jersey Village, but questioned the viability of bringing a hotel to the Village Center in addition to a new convention center to the golf course.

"No one has shown that this project is not going to eventually increase the burden on taxpayers," he said.

Other budget items include drainage and street improvements around Wall Street and hiring two new police officers and firefighters.



Sales tax hopes


With the Village Center moving forward, city officials are optimistic about seeing a boost to sales tax revenue in the future, a trend that could result in more property tax relief for residents, Bleess said.


The amount of sales tax revenue the city brought in during FY 2018-19 exceeded projections by about $900,000, according to budget data. Bleess attributed the gains to the city’s success in using economic incentives to draw companies into the city, including Argos USA, which officials speculate could eventually provide an additional $1 million in sales tax revenue for the city's general fund and $1 million for its Crime Control District.


The city’s FY 2019-20 budget includes a $4 million deficit—an amount that will be filled by city reserves.


Revenue is still expected to rise from FY 2018-19 with sales taxes making up a larger portion. Property taxes made up 42% of city revenue last year, and sales tax made up 28%. The remaining 29% is composed of fees, fines and transfers from other funds. For FY 2019-20, Bleess projected property tax to make up 37% and sales tax to make up 34%.


“Trying to get the percentages of the revenue budget to be a bit more equal was a goal for the city,” Bleess said. “It’s great to see that we have been able to do that.”


Editor's note: A version of this story that appeared in the Oct. 23 edition of Community Impact Newspaper featured plans for a convention center at the Jersey Meadow Golf Course that have since changed. This story has been updated to reflect the ongoing discussions surrounding the convention center.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


MOST RECENT

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

Texas Medical Center reports only 4% uptick in ICU bed use despite continued COVID-19 case increases

Compared to 1,350 total intensive care units in use June 30, Texas Medical Center has seen only a slight uptick in occupancies since then, with 1,394 reported July 9.

Lone Star College had almost 3,000 foreign students attend in the spring semester this year. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement rules could affect thousands of Lone Star College students

Lone Star College is currently unsure how a recent ICE rule will be affected its foreign student population.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Harris County. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 907 cases, 12 deaths confirmed July 9

The 12 deaths—the largest single day total in Harris County since the pandemic began—brings the total COVID-19 death count in the county to 423.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

Budget outlook improves for several Cy-Fair taxing entities as sales tax collections rebound

A once uncertain outlook for several Cy-Fair-area taxing entities is starting to improve after sales tax distributions in July—for taxes collected in May—came in higher than expected.

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced the following lane closures planned along Hwy. 290 this weekend. (Courtesy Fotolia)
8 Hwy. 290 lane closures affecting Cy-Fair drivers this weekend, July 10-12

Be sure to note these lane closures before heading out this weekend.

Cypress Creek Fire Department officials can notify residents of nearby emergencies, road closures and other safety alerts on a street-by-street level through the app. (Courtesy Cypress Creek Fire Department)
Cypress Creek Fire Department partners with Ring app

Cypress Creek Fire Department officials can notify residents of nearby emergencies, road closures and other safety alerts on a street-by-street level through the app.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

Craft Burger is one of 15 restaurants, catering companies and food trucks participating in this year's Black Restaurant Week. (Courtesy Craft Burger)
Houston's fifth annual Black Restaurant Week returns July 10-19

Participating patrons can play Black Restaurant Week Bingo and vote for their favorite participating eateries for a chance to win prizes such as restaurant gift cards, culinary treats and cash prizes.