Development continues to push farther north and farther west into Cy-Fair in response to increasing population. Population in the western ZIP codes—77433 and 77429—has increased from 46,025 in 2000 to 122,639 in 2012, according to the U.S. Census. Population forecasts from the Houston–Galveston Area Council show that trend continuing through 2025, although at a slower pace.
H-GAC's analysis breaks down the Greater Houston area into nearly 200 regional analysis zones, forecasting population, job and housing trends through 2025. Population in the four zones that make up western Cy-Fair—including the 77433 and 77429 ZIP codes—is projected to more than triple from 2000 numbers to 181,664 in 2025.
Public institutions are planning new schools and fire stations, developers are building more houses and apartments and business owners are finding success by catering to large swaths of newly occupied residential areas.
Tamara Bonning, who works with Bonning Real Estate in the northwest Cy-Fair area, said even though there is still a lot of undeveloped land in Cypress, the rising cost per acre makes it more difficult to purchase large acreage property.
"Not only are the subdivisions around the Grand Parkway seeing strong sales, people are now starting to call in and ask about property in Hockley," she said. "It's a seller's market, and that's where the affordable land is."
New locally owned businesses opening along the Mueschke Road corridor are finding success almost immediately as residents are eager to take advantage of services closer to home. Karen Sharp with the Lone Star College Small Business Development Center said residential growth meant the arrival of new businesses was not far behind.
"Residents follow the mobility improvements, and businesses follow the residents," she said. "You can never guarantee that a business will succeed, but business owners who have done their research and have a marketing plan in place will be able to take advantage of the residential growth along this corridor."
Auto shops like Louetta Automotive and Mueschke Car Care have opened next door to each other within the past year, and both are seeing enough business to stay afloat. Similar stories can be found looking at businesses of all types in the same area. Residents are tired of having to travel into Houston for goods and services and are taking advantage of anything available to them closer to home.
"We peaked at about 100 students after just one year of being open," said Trey Willis, co-founder of The Talent House, a music school on Mueschke Road. "There are plenty of music schools around Houston, but there was nothing at all for the people up here. There was this whole community of people yet to be tapped into."
Of the 33,000 new housing units Cy-Fair ISD officials are projecting to be occupied by 2022, the bulk are expected in western Cy-Fair. Bridgeland, Fairfield and Towne Lake all have new sections under development, and several completed projects in the Fairfield area—including the Avenues at Fairfield and Fairfield Ranch Apartments—have added multifamily units as well.
Residential growth has led to demand for cornerstone institutions—schools, fire stations and a new constable substation.
In the $1.2 billion May 2014 bond election approved by 69 percent of voters, CFISD received funds to build Elementary 57 and 58 to service the Hegar and Bridgeland areas, as well as Middle School 19 to service the Hegar area. They are scheduled to open over the next few years. Elementary 56, which will also service Bridgeland, was funded through prior bonds and is on schedule to open in 2017. Superintendent Mark Henry said the growth estimates the district came up with are actually conservative.
Cy-Fair VFD is planning new stations to service the growing populations in the west. No specific locations have been chosen, but Chief Amy Ramon said the department has been approached by developers in Bridgeland who are hopeful the area will get a new station.
Striking a balance
When population growth occurs at such a rapid pace, coming up with an optimal development strategy involves finding the balance between giving residents the services they want and preserving the open space that drew them to the area in the first place, said Brian Roberts, president of the homeowners association in Fairfield.
"People want the shorter commute times, but they also might not want that development coming too close to their homes," he said.
Roberts said he understands concerns about overdevelopment, but the commercial development taking place, including the Fairfield Towne Center, is inevitable.
"Friendswood has been very conscientious as far as homeowners are concerned about the kinds of organizations and companies that go in there," he said.