“How is the city so successful?” City Administrator Byron Hebert said. “You’ve got to have great leadership; you’ve got to have experience, [and] you’ve got to have some longevity.”
Hebert along with Mayor Bill Hastings and Kayce Reina, the city of Katy's director of tourism, marketing and public relations, explained how many people over the past two decades have helped Katy become what it is today and laid the plans for the city's future.
One of these plans includes the Katy Boardwalk District, a 169-acre, mixed-use development on Kingsland Boulevard across from Katy Mills. Reina said the first phase of the multifamily buildings is under construction and the city has put in the roads and infrastructure.
“The hotel conference center is going to be under construction this year,” she added. “We’re working on completing the road so we can activate that site.”
This 304-room hotel and 43,000-square-foot conference center is expected to open mid-2021. Plans for the development also include office and retail spaces, a 90-acre lake and trails.
“We’re really excited about where we’re at and what it’s going to be,” Reina said. “We know these types of projects are going to be huge financial interests for the city to [spur] commercial development that [can] offset some of the tax burden for our residents.”
The future of development
However, Hebert pointed out that there is only so much room in the city of Katy left for future commercial and residential development.
He explained that the city of Katy cannot expand its city limits because the city of Houston’s extraterritorial jurisdiction—which is a band of unincorporated land surrounding a city’s limits that the city can eventually annex—surrounds Katy’s city limits.
The city of Houston regulates development in its ETJ and can collect sales taxes through strategic partnership agreements, but it is not required to provide services, per state law.
Hebert said developers want to build within the city of Katy and not Houston’s ETJ.
“We’re working with developers to try to get them to get out of Houston’s ETJ and come into the city of Katy to help development. .... But right now, we’re limited. We cannot move [city limits] much further than [they] are.”
These developers must first work with the city of Houston to get their property removed from the ETJ before the site can be annexed into the city of Katy, Hebert said.
“Eventually, we’re going to get to a point where we’ve got to be able to grow [but can’t],” he said. So we’re going to be challenged with that in the future.”