Developers bringing thousands of homes to area north of Cypress

Construction crews work on a welcoming structure at the entrance to the new Amira community in June.

Construction crews work on a welcoming structure at the entrance to the new Amira community in June.

Developers along the borders of Cypress, Tomball and Hockley have spent the past few years staking claim to some of the few remaining large tracts of undeveloped land, and construction on several new communities is now underway.

Roughly 2,200 acres of land near the Grand Parkway and Mueschke and Cypress Rosehill roads are at various points of development across six different communities that will add thousands of new single-family homes when fully built out, a process that could take more than a decade.

“There is obvious growth in this area, and it’s something we’d like to be a part of,” said Houman Samanian, residential development manager with Ersa Grae Corp., which is in the early stages of a new 533-acre community north of Cypress. “There are great people there. There’s demand for single-family homes. The job growth is there.”

The new developments are launching as recently completed communities inside the Grand Parkway—including Falls at Dry Creek and Hidden Arbor, which broke ground in 2015 and 2016, respectively—continue to see strong sales as they near build-out.

With large tracts of land increasingly difficult to find in Cy-Fair, land sales professionals said they are seeing more land transferring out of the hands of investors and private owners.

For longtime property owners like Didi Carpenter—who has owned a 100-plus-acre tract of land for 32 years near the recently built Tealpointe Lake Estates—the rapidly changing area has come with multiple detriments, leading her to put her land up for sale. Many farming families that used to be in the area have already left, she said.

“The feeling of privacy is no longer there,” she said. “It’s just not the place it was when I moved here. You don’t see deer anymore. I used to see armadillos every night. Fox cubs were born here every year. Not anymore.”

Recently launched, coming soon

Homes began preselling in May at Amira, a 370-acre Johnson Development community east of Mueschke Road that will feature 1,120 homes at build-out. Meanwhile, home construction started in 2018 on Tealpointe, where another 51 homes will go in on 1.5-acre lots.

Additionally, McAlister Investment Real Estate has assembled more than 600 acres of largely undeveloped land off the Grand Parkway in Hockley over the past five years, said Paul Connor, the principal and owner of McAlister. He said the land is under contract with a developer that specializes in larger, master-planned communities, but said he could not reveal additional details at this point in time.

“Hopefully, we will be closed, and they will be developing as soon as the end of the calendar year,” he said.

Ersa Grae started preliminary work earlier this year on its currently unnamed 533-acre community. The project could feature as many as 1,800 homes at build-out, Samanian said.

“We’re probably looking at the first section of lots being in the ground by September or October of 2020,” he said.

Samanian said the location for the new community was chosen based on projected job growth and demand for single-family homes in the area. Homebuilders have also expressed interest in the community, which Samanian said is particularly foretelling about what kind of demand the community will see.

“[Builders] have roots connected to the community much deeper than we typically do,” he said. “They’re monitoring potential buyers, and they have a good feel about certain areas of town. This one in particular received dozens of calls from various different builders who are interested in partnering up with us.”

Farmers move out

As land values in the area continue to increase, more farming and horse-breeding families are choosing to sell their properties.

The land where the upcoming Amira community is underway was previously an Arabian horse ranch, according to records from the Harris County Appraisal District. The 40-acre Matt Family Orchard on Bauer Hockley Road was acquired by Bauer Hockley Road Investment LLC in 2018 following the death of founder Rick Matt, although the new owners said they plan to keep the orchard up and running.

Over the years, Carpenter said she built a farm, raised and bred horses and has fostered hundreds of Doberman dogs as a part of an animal rescue operation. She said she is regretful about parting ways with the land she has lived on for decades and is being mindful about who she sells to.

“I’ve turned down three or four offers because they said they want to bulldoze every tree here,” she said. “I’m not selling to them. I love these trees. When I sell, I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I sold to the right person.”

A batch of other land tracts in the area are up for sale, ranging from a 95-acre tract south of Tealpointe to several smaller tracts around Mueschke and Cypress Rosehill roads in Cypress.

Keith Edwards, a land broker with Caldwell Companies—a development and real estate firm with several land tracts in Cy-Fair—said the area around the Grand Parkway where Cypress, Tomball and Waller converge is the “bullseye” where growth is going. However, he said larger tracts are becoming increasingly hard to find, even that far out.

“That’s why people are assembling tracts,” he said. “All the 100- and 200-acre farms, they sold in 2017 and 2018. There’s not a whole lot of tracts left that are that large.”

An eye toward flooding

The new development is largely concentrated in the Little Cypress Creek watershed, where officials with the Harris County Flood Control District said they enforce unusually strict development standards and higher requirements for how much detention needs to be created.

Normally when a developer installs drainage infrastructure in Harris County, it is done in a way that only serves their individual site. Developers within the program boundaries are required to participate in a regional approach that involves paying a $4,000-per-acre fee, according to HCFCD information. Funds collected from the fees are used by the HCFCD to acquire right of way along the creek for stormwater detention.

Both Connor and Samanian said McAlister and Ersa Grae, respectively, are working closely with HCFCD officials on their respective projects.

“Flood control is extremely conscious of making sure that their requirements are met so that downstream existing developments are not affected,” Samanian said. “We are constantly meeting with flood control … and they are monitoring the drainage analysis by our engineers.”

In a study into the Cypress Creek watershed released in May, researchers with Rice University and the Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium found stormwater flow from Little Cypress Creek directly contributes to flooding on Cypress Creek during heavy rainfalls.

In a separate study released in April, researchers questioned how effective the county’s standards are when it comes to new development’s effects on existing development downstream. However, Phil Bedient, one of the study’s authors, said efforts to look at watersheds such as Little Cypress Creek as unique entities are a step in the right direction. He said standards in other parts of the county are not up to par.

“It’s not rocket science,” Bedient said. “When they don’t put in enough detention, you end up with these flows that are higher than they should be. They are not taking it back to the undeveloped condition.”

View our other Real Estate Edition coverage
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.


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.

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
Refinancing a home, police departments address protests: Popular news this week from Greater Houston

Read popular stories from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

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.