A population boom near the Summerwood and Fall Creek areas is sparking what could become a central business district for the Lake Houston area, said Mark Mitchell, president of the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership.
In addition to becoming a retail and restaurant hub, this corridor along Beltway 8 could continue to attract corporate campuses and health care entities, Mitchell said.
Those businesses would follow large corporations, such as TechnipFMC, which relocated more than 1,000 employees and its corporate headquarters to 4,000-acre mixed-use development Generation Park in 2014. Meanwhile, Apache Industrial Services will open its 35,350-square-foot Houston headquarters in August.
Mitchell said he has seen the development of the Beltway 8 corridor firsthand.
“I lived in Summerwood for six years,” Mitchell said. “There was no H-E-B, there was no Home Depot, there was no Kroger [and]there were no restaurants to speak of. For us, it was either making a trip all the way downtown or making a trip to the Deerbrook Mall area.”
Retail follows rooftops
The Lake Houston area’s population is projected to increase by more than 30,000 people between 2015 and 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The population growth is fueled by the construction of at least 12,000 new homes projected within Humble ISD boundaries between 2015 and 2025, according to a study in 2015 by demographics firm Population and Survey Analysts.
Three developments that feature retail stores and restaurants are under construction near Summerwood and Fall Creek along Beltway 8 as developers chase a growing population that is underserved by the retail industry, SLS Properties Manager Danny Sheena said.
SLS Properties is finishing up construction on a 24,000-square-foot shopping center in August. The development’s only announced tenant is a Smoothie King shop that is projected to open by the end of the year, Sheena said.
However, Phase II of the development will feature an unnamed 30,000-square-foot big-box store, he said.
“The area is filled with homes and apartments, and there’s just not a lot of retail to support the community,” Sheena said.
Fidelis Realty Partners is also developing Westlake Marketplace, a 65-acre retail center that will have 600,000 square feet of retail space at build-out, according to the development’s site plan.
The walkable retail development will have at least 40 pad sites for retail outlet stores and restaurants.
National grocer Kroger and discount clothing stores Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less opened in 2016. In 2017, the development will add Dick’s Sporting Goods, Chick-fil-A, Salata and Olive Garden, according to the developer.
Westlake Marketplace will feature a pedestrian bridge that connects it to Redemption Square, a mixed-use town center in McCord Development’s master-planned commercial development Generation Park, McCord Development’s Marketing Director Ian Adler said.
More elements of Redemption Square will begin construction in 2017, including a hotel, an apartment complex and four restaurants. Construction in Redemption Square will be completed in two years, McCord Development President Ryan McCord said.
Three residential developments along Beltway 8—Sunset Ridge, Fall Creek and Balmoral—will build more than 3,100 homes from 2015-25, according to PASA data and developer updates.
Balmoral, which will open its first model homes by the end of the year, will feature up to 2,400 houses on the 580-acre site, said Tim Johnson, director of community sales and marketing for Land Tejas Development Company, the developer for Balmoral. The development will have a 2-acre lake, free Wi-Fi throughout the community and a system of trails.
Meanwhile, by 2025, Sunset Ridge and Fall Creek are expected to produce 716 and 374 more homes, respectively, according to PASA data.
“It’s one of the last few places where you can be that close to downtown but still have the safety and security of being in the suburbs,” Johnson said.
As development picks up near Summerwood and Fall Creek, Harris County plans to expand two north-south thoroughfares that will connect to Beltway 8 and alleviate gridlock in the area.
While Harris County Precinct 4 designs the expansion of Wilson Road, Harris County precincts 2 and 4 are working together on the expansion and extension of Woodland Hills Drive.
Wilson Road will be expanded to a four-lane roadway between Beltway 8 and Atascocita Road, said Pamela Rocchi, director of Harris County Precinct 4’s Capital Improvement Projects Division.
Meanwhile, Woodland Hills Drive was widened from two lanes to four between Beltway 8 and Ridge Creek Elementary School when Phase I was completed this year, said Amerie Reid, Harris County Precinct 2 communications coordinator.
Phase II will create a new four-lane road between Ridge Creek Elementary and Woodland Path Drive and be completed by the second quarter of 2018, Reid said.
She said the project will prepare the area for the anticipated growth.
“We did an analysis, and Woodland Hills turned out to be the single best improvement that we could make right now to relieve traffic in that area,” Reid said.