Despite the pandemic, the city of Friendswood has still continued to grow residentially and commercially.

The city has always had a large residential population, but officials are trying to grow the number of commercial permits in the city. Friendswood has had a goal for several years that 80% of the city’s revenue comes from residential properties and 20% of the city’s revenue comes from businesses.

The city’s plan to reach 80/20 is going well, Assistant City Manager Steven Rhea said. Roughly 85% of the city’s revenue comes from residential properties now, he said.

“We are constantly looking at a way to bring in new business,” Rhea said.

Friendswood welcomed Jersey Mike’s, MOD Pizza and Chick-fil-A to the city in early 2020. Having successful chain businesses in the city has helped bolster the city over the pandemic, Council Member Brent Erenwert said when he spoke to Community Impact Newspaper in November.

“Fast-food places are just kind of booming right now,” he said.

Because of the success of the businesses in the city, Friendswood exceeded its sales tax projections for the year.

“Even with the overall inability to know what comes next, our sales tax figures were above what we projected,” Rhea said. “When people are looking to relocate their business, this is something they look at.”

Making sure there is a balance between bringing in chain businesses and maintaining the small-town feeling the Friendswood community prides itself on is a balance the city works to strike, Rhea said. The developers the city brings in try to appeal to locals, as many of them are locals themselves, Rhea said.

“They have tapped into what the city wants,” he said. “It is everyone’s business to put something in the ground or fill a retail space with something people want to visit.”

Having more residents flock to the city will attract more businesses to Friendswood, Mayor Mike Foreman said.

In the midst of COVID-19, the city has seen a demand for more housing. Friendswood issued 87 residential permits in 2019. In 2020, it issued 133.

The residential building in larger subdivisions is continuing throughout this year, Foreman said. West Ranch finished build-out this year, newer sections of Sterling Creek are starting this year, and work on the brand-new subdivision Avalon will be starting soon. The city also has new apartments coming in.

“I think home-building is going pretty fast and furious,” Foreman said.

As more people continue to move to Texas and to the Houston area, Friendswood is going to stick out as a great place to live, Foreman said.

“They are looking for a safe city, good schools, attractive parks. We still have that small-town feel, and we will strive to maintain that,” he said. “If they are coming to this area and looking for a new home, then Friendswood just jumps out at you.”