Several new shopping and grocery options are coming to the Lake Houston area as commercial developers venture farther north and south of Deerbrook Mall on FM 1960.
Four large-scale retail-anchored developments are under construction as developers target the area’s rapid population growth, relatively uncongested traffic arteries and a high availability of undeveloped land, said Charlie Dromgoole, senior vice president of economic development for the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Retail follows rooftops,” Dromgoole said. “It’s almost a chain reaction. You’ve got good schools, you’ve got lots of land and you’ve got transportation. It all starts flowing when the housing starts flowing, and the retail follows.”
Facilitated by more than 12,000 rooftops under construction between 2015-25, according to a demographic study by Population and Survey Analysts, the Lake Houston-area population is projected to increase by more than 30,000 people between 2015-20, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Two of the developments—Valley Ranch Town Center and Main Street Kingwood—are under construction in or around the Kingwood area and will open their first stores this fall. The expanded options will keep Lake Houston-area residents from traveling to other communities to shop, said Danny Signorelli, CEO of The Signorelli Company, which develops the Valley Ranch Town Center.
“So many in that northeast quadrant [of the Greater Houston area] were traveling up FM 1314 to Hwy. 242 back south down I-45 to shop in The Woodlands because the alternate choice was a really old, kind of tired development at FM 1960 around the old mall and those retail areas,” Signorelli said.
Lovett Commercial is developing Main Street Kingwood, a 33-acre mixed-use development that features retail, restaurants and a medical facility, at the northeast corner of West Lake Houston Parkway and Kingwood Drive. The development is projected to open in October, said Liz Jacob, Lovett Commercial executive vice president.
Main Street Kingwood is anchored by Houston-based grocer H-E-B and features VERTS, Orangetheory Fitness and Raising Cane’s.
The Signorelli Company has inked agreements with four big-box stores to populate the 1.8 million square feet of retail space in Valley Ranch Town Center. The first 600,000 square feet of retail includes Academy Sports+Outdoor, Sam’s Club and Kroger and opens this fall. Hobby Lobby was announced as a fourth retail anchor in May. Another 400,000 square feet of retail space is projected to open early in 2017, Signorelli said.
South of FM 1960
In the Summerwood area two retail-anchored developments are under construction in adjacent properties.
Fidelis Realty Partners is developing Westlake Marketplace, a 65-acre retail center that will feature 600,000 square feet of retail space at build-out, according to the development’s site plan. National grocer Kroger as well as discount clothing stores Marshall’s, Ross Dress for Less and Burlington Coat Factory are projected to be open by the end of the year.
Westlake Marketplace will feature a pedestrian bridge that connects it to Redemption Square, a mixed-use town center within McCord Development’s master-planned commercial development Generation Park.
Demand for new retail options is high in the Lake Houston area due to the fast-growing West Lake Houston Parkway corridor, said McCord Development’s Marketing Director Ian Adler.
The new large scale retail-anchored developments—Main Street Kingwood, Westlake Marketplace, Redemption Square and the Valley Ranch Town Center—have allowed the area to attract new homeowners and retain current residents, said Michael Prats LHACC economic development coordinator.
“I’ve had several emails and phone calls from homeowners or prospective homebuyers … to say ‘Give me a reason not to leave this area or give me a reason why I should buy this house in this area,”’ Prats said. “And the No. 1 issue or underlying reason why that question was asked is because they say, ‘We have nowhere to shop so why would we want to live in a community where there’s nowhere to shop?’”
The relatively high population of young families within Humble ISD, lax regulations in the area and lack of zoning laws could be a catalyst for more retail and entertainment options as the population continues to increase, Prats said.
“All those things facilitate single-family housing growth as the rest of Houston is getting more and more built-out,” Prats said.
However, some of what drives retail development is popularity and perception, Signorelli said.
“So much of the real estate business is a herd mentality, and retail is probably the [same],” he said. “A retail camp wants to know who else is going there. No one is going to jump into the water by themselves, but if they see that there are 12 other stores opening they’ll jump in, too.”