Grand Parkway extension fuels spike in East Montgomery County development

Texas Department of Transportation employees work on Segment H of the Grand Parkway in Montgomery County, which is set to be completed in the spring of 2022. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
Texas Department of Transportation employees work on Segment H of the Grand Parkway in Montgomery County, which is set to be completed in the spring of 2022. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)

Texas Department of Transportation employees work on Segment H of the Grand Parkway in Montgomery County, which is set to be completed in the spring of 2022. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)

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A number of developments are underway in East Montgomery County near the Grand Parkway, bringing new retail shops, restaurants and jobs to the area. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Construction is underway on the Grand Parkway segments H and I-1, which will run east and west through Montgomery County and intersect with Hwy. 59 in Porter. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
In the last five years, East Montgomery County has seen an explosion of growth as commercial and residential sites have popped up along the region’s landscape. Fueled largely by the extension of the Grand Parkway, local leaders said the growth will benefit both existing and future residents.

Growth has been a staple of the portion of Montgomery County that stretches about 10 miles east of Hwy. 59, especially after Segment G of the Grand Parkway opened in March 2016, said Kelley Mattlage, chief communications officer for the East Montgomery County Improvement District. Since then, new development has crowded the 13.7-mile portion of the toll road from I-45 to Hwy. 59.

“The Grand Parkway is a game changer for East Montgomery County,” she said. “It opens up all kinds of options. Never before could you get from New Caney to The Woodlands or vice versa in 13 minutes.”

Expanding the Grand Parkway across East Montgomery County, the Texas Department of Transportation began construction on segments H and I-1 in summer 2017. The road segments stretch 37.5 miles with Segment H running through Montgomery County east from Hwy. 59 to Hwy. 90 and Segment I-1 running southeast through Liberty and Chambers counties to Segment I-2A near Mont Belvieu. The $855 million project is expected to be completed in spring 2022.

Incoming development along the Grand Parkway is expected to provide thousands of new homes and hundreds of jobs to the area. Signorelli Co. already owns the 1,400-acre Valley Ranch master-planned community at Grand Parkway and Hwy. 59 that will include 1,500 single-family homes, more than 1,000 multifamily residences and a town center with restaurants and retailers upon completion. The developer announced a 700-acre expansion in February.

Meanwhile, The Highlands, a 2,310-acre master-planned community at the Grand Parkway west of FM 1314 that began selling in September. In addition, Lowe’s and Amazon are opening distribution and delivery centers, respectively, this year that will bring hundreds of jobs.

A growing area

In terms of single-family homes, seven parcels of land directly touching Grand Parkway Segment G are expected to bring a total of 1,526 new homes from 2019-23, according to a 2019 study for New Caney ISD by the Population and Survey Analysts demographics firm. Eight land parcels are predicted to bring another 2,855 homes to the area from 2023-28.

The Signorelli Co. is in the process of further developing Valley Ranch with construction underway on 1,500 single-family homes and several multifamily complexes, Signorelli Co. President Danny Signorelli said.

“As the highway continues to expand, commutes will only get quicker with more families and individuals expected to relocate to the region, allowing for Montgomery County to double in size by 2035,” Signorelli said.

In February, Signorelli announced it would be investing $25 million to build upon 700 acres to create additional retail and residential properties over the “next several years.” The development will consist of six connected districts, including a marketplace, which is currently under construction; a medical district, which broke ground in October 2020; and an entertainment district.

About 6 miles west in Porter, Caldwell Cos. and David Weekley Homes are developing a 2,310-acre master-planned community dubbed The Highlands. The community will consist of single-family homes, of which 18 will be exclusively available to homeowners age 55 and older.

Construction on the 4,000-home development began in August and will likely continue for several years as the community expands, said Peter Barnhart, Caldwell VP of Land Development. Construction on model homes for the community has already been completed, however, and houses can be purchased starting at $290,000, according to a June 21 news release.

“What drew us to that location was the accessibility provided by the Grand Parkway,” Barnhart said. “Historically, that area was hard to get to, but the Grand Parkway opened up a whole new world.”

While the Grand Parkway continues to fuel growth, Mattlage said developers have also been drawn to East Montgomery County because of the region’s unique features.

"East Montgomery County offers a low cost of living, increased opportunities for jobs, brand-new amenities and a great quality of life,” Mattlage said. “People recognize that and are anxious to move to our area.”

The per capita annual income for Montgomery County was $41,211 as of 2019, compared to the statewide figure of $31,277, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Amazon began construction on a new 140,000-square-foot delivery station located at Hwy. 59 and Kingwood Drive in Porter in early 2021. The project is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2022.

Daniel Martin, Amazon operations public relations manager, said when determining where to expand, the company considers specific criteria he believes the Porter area fits.

“We’re seeing increased demand; we think there’s .... a great talented local workforce; we’ve got strong support from local and state leaders, and the [location is] kind of primed for us,” Martin said.

At the EMCID’s industrial park in New Caney, a new 1.5 million-square-foot Lowe’s distribution center is slated to open in late September. Upon completion, the center will be the largest industrial building in Montgomery County, Mattlage said.

Pedro Chen, Lowe’s senior public relations analyst, said the EMCID industrial park was selected for the location, in part, because it will enable the company to provide next-day delivery to customers in both Texas and Louisiana.

“The 1.5 million-square-foot facility will enable Lowe’s to provide faster and more predictable deliveries to customers in Texas and Louisiana as we continue to grow our distribution network,” Chen said.

Industrial, construction jobs

The new companies coming to the area are bringing hundreds of new jobs. Once Amazon’s Porter-area facility opens, at least 200 full- and part-time jobs will be created, Martin said.

“From the local jobs that we bring, to the local people that we employ, train or upskill, our business is really made up of people from the communities like Spring and Porter,” Martin said.

The Lowe’s New Caney center will also employ about 200 people. Chen said he believes the center will benefit both the residents of the region as well as its economy.

“This new bulk distribution center will bring quality jobs that will have a strong residual economic impact on this area, and we anticipate [it] will also spur additional development in the region,” Chen said.

The Grand Parkway has been a catalyst for much of East Montgomery County’s growth, and as the road expands, additional construction jobs were created. At the peak of the segment H and I projects, 800 individuals were employed, according to Chris Neil, Grand Parkway infrastructure public relations manager.

•“This project has created hundreds of jobs for individuals in the local communities that run along the project corridor,” Neil said.
By Emily Lincke

Reporter, Spring/Klein & Lake Houston/Humble/Kingwood

Emily joined Community Impact Newspaper in August 2021 after working for a small town newspaper in El Campo, TX for two years. Before that, she interned and freelanced for the Houston Chronicle and worked as a freelance photographer and writer in the Houston area. A controversial fact about Emily is that she prefers sugar cookies over chocolate chip cookies. She graduated with a print journalism degree from the University of Houston in 2018.


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