A number of new retail centers are being developed in the Katy area to accommodate an influx of new homes and residents. More than 20,000 homes are in the construction process throughout the Katy area’s five ZIP codes—77094, 77449, 77450, 77493, 77494—according to Houston Metrostudy. The population of the Katy ISD area is estimated at around 310,000, according to the Katy Area Economic Development Council.
When it comes to housing and retail, the progression is not a chicken-or-the-egg paradox, said Patrick Jankowski, regional economist and senior vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership.
“There’s an expression in the real estate community that says ‘retail follows rooftops,’” Jankowski said. “And, once you get housing development in the area, eventually the retail will follow because the retailers want to serve the new residents.”
Lance LaCour, president and CEO of the KAEDC, said development companies and retail providers have identified the Katy area as a prime location for retail opportunities due to the area’s stable and rapid growth.
“When you compare us to other communities around the country, there’s a lot of communities that don’t have the kind of growth that we have,” LaCour said. “We’ve been anywhere from 3 to 6 percent [yearly growth rate], but 3 percent is a good steady rate. I think some of these retail providers are looking at that, saying, ‘You know, this is a fairly stable market; it’s going to continue to grow.’”
NewQuest Properties and The Retail Connection are two such entities that have honed in on the western half of the Katy area—primarily southwestern Katy—for current and future retail projects. With new housing developments and a wealthy demographic, the area south of I-10 and west of the Grand Parkway is a natural candidate for construction and expansion, officials said.
NewQuest has several projects, including the Shops at Katy Reserve, Stableside at Falcon Landing and Cross Creek Commons in southwestern Katy. The company is also developing Grand Morton Town Center in the northeastern part of the Katy area, while The Retail Connection is developing the Shoppes at Parkwest in the northwestern portion.
“The fact that the residential growth has been so explosive in [the southwestern Katy] market is the whole reason we’re building the projects we are,” NewQuest Vice President Bob Conwell said.
Three shopping centers in southwestern Katy are under construction with several stores in all three locations set to open by the end of 2017. Each center will feature a mix of grocery shopping, retail, restaurants and entertainment, officials said.
The Shops at Katy Reserve is a Kroger Marketplace-anchored project. Stableside at Falcon Landing is anchored by a Kroger Signature. A 24 Hour Fitness—expected to open in early 2017—is one of the featured businesses at the Shops at Katy Reserve. An entertainment space with a movie theater is one of the featured retail tenants at Stableside at Falcon Landing.
Cross Creek Commons will be anchored by an Aldi store. Station Car Wash & Lube is the only other tenant in the center to have signed a lease.
The Kroger Signature at Stableside at Falcon Landing and the Aldi store at Cross Creek Commons are set to open in early 2017, NewQuest officials said.
“We have the bull’s eye of the west Katy growth corridor, which is surrounded by hugely dense and high-income families,” said Austin Alvis, a NewQuest broker associate who is heading up the Stableside at Falcon Landing project.
Leaders in several master-planned communities in southwestern Katy reiterated developers’ “retail follows rooftops” mantra. Retail is essential to serving the needs of residents, they said.
However, some community officials said they are concerned about retail centers bringing excess traffic to an area already struggling with traffic congestion.
“I think everybody’s excited about the different retail establishments,” said Louis James, vice president of the Firethorne homeowners association board of directors. “Everybody loves the area. Their biggest complaint is the issue of traffic.”
Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers said the retail centers might experience congestion. However, a variety of mobility projects—namely the FM 1093 construction and the Spring Green Boulevard and Cane Island Boulevard connections—will greatly benefit retail developments and traffic patterns in the future. Housing and population growth, not retail, are responsible for mobility issues in that portion of the Katy area, he said.
“The biggest issue is, we are a very fast-growing area, and it’s very difficult to keep up with the growth with our roads,” Meyers said. “It’s not so much the shopping centers that are creating the congestion as it is the subdivisions that are developed and the homes that are sold and people moving in without the improvements to the road. Without building new roads or expanding the roads I got, I’m putting more and more people on existing roads, and—after awhile—that doesn’t work very well.”
In addition to NewQuest’s efforts in the western half of Katy, The Retail Connection is in the process of constructing the multiple-anchor Shoppes at Parkwest.
Stephen Tou, the company’s senior vice president of brokerage, said the project broke ground last summer, and Phase 1 has been split into two parts. The first portion opened this summer, while surrounding stores will open within the next two months, he said.
Phase 2 is set to open in October. Phase 3 has yet to be built but is expected to be open next summer, he said.
NewQuest’s Grand Morton Town Center is a Kroger Marketplace-anchored retail spot. A Wal-mart Supercenter-anchored area is on the north side of Morton Ranch Road.
Josh Friedlander, a NewQuest broker associate, said the Kroger Marketplace will open Nov. 1.
Friedlander said the Wal-mart Supercenter is set to be open by next summer along with additional businesses. Different phases of the center are expected to be ongoing throughout the next several years, he said.
“Within a 3-mile radius of [the Grand Parkway and Morton Ranch Road], there will be over 1,100 new homes closing in the next year,” he said.
Jankowski said all of Katy seems prepared to handle even more retail growth in the future.
“Katy is beyond critical mass,” Jankowski said. “It’s gotten such a strong population base now that it can support just about any sort of retail operation that wants to move out there.”