Developers flock to West Lake Houston Parkway

Atascocita-area subdivision Bridges on Lake Houston is one of several home developments under construction along West Lake Houston Parkway.

Atascocita-area subdivision Bridges on Lake Houston is one of several home developments under construction along West Lake Houston Parkway.

More than 12,000 single-family homes are projected to be built in the Lake Houston area by 2025 as developers chase the area’s undeveloped land as well as its rapid job and population growth.


Much of the development is situated along the West Lake Houston Parkway corridor where several housing projects are under construction between Kingwood and Beltway 8, according to a study by demographics firm Population and Survey Analysts.


Raymond Besa, an agent for Coldwell Banker United Realtors, has been selling real estate in the area for the past 11 years and said demand for homes in the Lake Houston area continues to grow as amenities and retail options improve.


“People are willing to drive the distance because of the wooded area and fresh air, and you don’t have to drive all the way to downtown Houston for shopping because we have a lot of great new stores,” Besa said.



Developers flock to West Lake Houston ParkwayRapid single-family growth


There are 50 single-family subdivisions under development in the Lake Houston area, according to the Lake Houston Area Economic Development Partnership. The PASA study estimates 12,093 homes will be constructed in the area by 2025.


Friendswood Development Co.—the original Kingwood developer—is constructing 1,300 homes in new Kingwood development Royal Brook. The community sits on 510 acres north of the intersection of Mills Branch Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway with prices ranging from $300,000 to more than $600,000. It is the last piece of land slated for single-family homes in Kingwood, FDC officials said.


FDC decided to develop Royal Brook because of the demand for new homes in the area as well as the desirability of Humble ISD, said Kayla Steward, land analyst and marketing coordinator for the developer.


“It’s been about 10 years since we opened a new section in Kingwood,” FDC Senior Acquisitions Manger Michael Johnson said. “There’s some pent-up demand for a new home product in Kingwood.”


Farther south in Atascocita, several large housing developments are under construction on West Lake Houston Parkway, with neighborhoods, such as The Groves, Lakewood Pines and Bridges on Lake Houston, under development. More than 2,500 rooftops are planned in these three communities, according to the PASA study.


Just northwest of the intersection of West Lake Houston Parkway and Beltway 8, Land Tejas Companies is planning Phase 2 of master-planned community Park Lakes. The development is a subdivision named Balmoral and is projected to include more than 1,600 homes, according to PASA. The 900-acre development is projected to begin producing homes by 2017.



Driving demand


Many factors, such as a desirable school district, retail development and job growth, are driving demand, said Michael Prats, vice president of LHAEDP.


Between 2010 and 2015, the Lake Houston area’s total population grew to 257,759 by an estimated 33,000 new residents. The population is predicted to rise by 12 percent to 288,599 by 2020, according to the LHAEDP.


The population growth spurred by single-family development is also attracting large-scale retail developments near West Lake Houston Parkway, such as Westlake Marketplace and Main Street Kingwood, LHAEDP CEO Charlie Dromgoole said.


“It’s an area that hasn’t had as much retail and community development as other areas of Houston, and people are finally discovering the area,” Dromgoole said. “Land availability and development have developers creating housing, and retail and other projects are following.”


Two major east-west transportation projects—the Beltway 8 extension in 2011 and Segment G of the Grand Parkway—have also ignited growth in the area, Dromgoole said. Combined with Hwy. 59, the relatively unclogged traffic arteries provide easy access to the Greater Houston area, he said.


“You’ve got good access to downtown Houston, The Woodlands, the ship channel and all major employment centers,” said Nicole Zimmerman, project manager for Crescent Communities, The Groves’ developer. “Beyond that, there’s just the natural beauty of the landscape.”



HISD effects


The rapid single-family growth puts more students within HISD’s boundaries. The district is planning six new schools, including a seventh high school in Atascocita, by 2022. Five of the planned schools are located in the southeast quadrant of the district, four of which will be located on or near West Lake Houston Parkway.


HISD has $155 million in authorized bond funds from a 2008 election to purchase property for the six new campuses, build three of the schools and provide some funding toward the construction of a fourth school, Superintendent Guy Sconzo said. The district is planning a 2018 bond referendum to fund the remaining schools, he said.


The district added about 4,600 students to its enrollment between 2009-14, a trend that is projected to continue to increase over the next decade, according to the PASA demographics study.


“For next school year, and maybe the following, growth is going to slow a little bit,” Sconzo said. “And that has everything to do with the price of oil, but that slower growth for us is in the 1,000-to-1,100-student range. After that, it starts escalating.”

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