Generation Park—a 4,000-acre project by McCord Development that could host more than 150,000 employees at build-out—brings an employment center to the Lake Houston area.
Phase 1 of development, which includes McCord’s land west of Beltway 8, will include a corporate anchor, retail town center and two community colleges. The first retail and office elements within the development will be complete by mid-2017, while a build-out date will be determined by market demand, said Ian Adler, McCord Development’s director of marketing.
The commercial development is slated to include a variety of uses, such as Class A office space, retail, industrial, hospitality, higher education and health science.
Introducing Generation Park into an area often considered as a bedroom community could attract more development, said Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston.
“The location mostly strikes me as a great opportunity to bring a lot of white-collar professionals into that area,” said Gilmer, who lives in Kingwood. “It looks to me like much more of a corporate development and a work site. And that tends to recruit a lot of development around it. It brings good white-collar professional jobs into that area, and it [creates an]area where residents can work and live in the suburbs at the same time.”
McCord is constructing retail, infrastructure and office projects within Redemption Square, Generation Park’s retail town center, which are expected to be complete by mid-2017.
The developer is also in the process of completing $59 million in roadway and infrastructure projects in preparation for the next round of construction, said Bryan Ruth, senior director of development-infrastructure for McCord.
Office, retail components
The development is designed to capitalize on the underdeveloped retail and office space markets needed after rapid population growth in the Lake Houston area, Adler said. Generation Park will have 40 million square feet of office space at build-out.
McCord plans to break ground on retail and office developments in Redemption Square in June. The development will have 1.5 million square feet of Class A office space, an apartment complexes, at least two hotels, an auditorium and 265,000 square feet of retail space.
The 85,000-square-foot Redemption Square One—a five-story mixed-use building—will have three or four restaurants on the first floor and Class A office space on the next four floors. The building is 70 percent leased and is slated to open by the second quarter of 2017, Adler said.
“Ever since [the Beltway 8 expansion in 2011]the area has been booming, but [commercial and retail development]has yet to catch up,” Adler said. “Class A office in the area doesn’t really exist. The same [goes]for retail—the retail out here is booming.”
McCord has also inked contracts with Courtyard Marriott to create a full-service hotel and international goods, logistics, transportation company Stolt-Nielson LTD, which will construct a 6-acre campus, Adler said. He said Redemption Square will include a fitness center and a pedestrian bridge to nearby retail developments, and it could house a radio station.
Generation Park will feature five access points from Beltway 8—Lockwood Drive, West Lake Houston Parkway, Generation Parkway, Garrett Road and North Lake Houston Parkway—when build-out is completed.
McCord and Harris County are working on infrastructure projects that will alleviate traffic caused by introducing 150,000 employees and more retail options.
The $32 million Phase 1 of infrastructure improvements included construction of a wastewater treatment facility, utility lines and a partnership with Harris County on the $10 million expansion of Lockwood Drive to four lanes between North Lake Houston Parkway and the railroad tracks, Ruth said. The expansion of Lockwood Drive will be complete by the end of June while the other projects are already completed, he said.
Once Phase 1 is completed, the developer will shift toward a $27 million second round of improvements.
The roads within Redemption Square and the expansion of Lockwood and Woodland Hills drives will be open by the second quarter of 2017, Ruth said.
“Transportation is an absolutely critical part of any development, ensuring that people have access to and from places of work, restaurants and retail,” Ruth said.
Two community colleges have invested in Generation Park. San Jacinto College purchased 57 acres to build a campus servicing Sheldon ISD, while Lone Star College—Kingwood is constructing an 8.5-acre campus that specializes in process technology.
LSC plans to break ground this summer on the LSC—Kingwood Advanced Technology Center and is projected to open in August 2017, said Maribeth Stitt, dean of business, technology, communications and languages. The campus will train attendees to run process operations in a chemical plant, Stitt said.
“The college system, before the bond election in 2014, decided to extend its offerings to [include more fields]in demand,” Stitt said. “There’s a huge percent of the population that works in this field, but we didn’t offer this program.”
San Jac’s new campus will focus on academic transfers and workforce needs of the surrounding community, said Amanda Fenwick, vice president for marketing and public relations. The campus is projected to include one building that services 2,600 students. However, the campus has the ability to grow depending on the needs of the area, Fenwick said. Construction is slated to begin in 2019, she said.
“We want this to be a go-to resource for that community,” Fenwick said. “We’re seeing tremendous growth out there, and we want to respond.”
The completion of the final 13-mile segment of Beltway 8 in 2011 kick-started development on Generation Park, Adler said. The increased east-west connectivity between Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 90 allowed McCord Development to attract an “elephant,” such as FMC Technologies, to anchor the 4,000-acre mixed-use project, he said.
Phase 1 of FMC’s 173-acre campus was completed in April. FMC’s campus includes 2 million square feet of office and industrial space, a health clinic and a full-service cafe.
About 1,000 employees have migrated to the new headquarters, but FMC plans to consolidate all 10 of its Houston facilities to Generation Park over the next 10 years, according to Lisa Adams, FMC Technologies public relations and digital communications manager.
“We just knew when the Beltway came in, it was time,” Adler said. “That’s when we started chasing FMC. [FMC is] a Fortune 500 company—and there are only 25 in Houston—and we got one of them as our first deal.”