Residential, road projects cover landscape
In the fall of 2012, Katy ISD released a demographic study which noted housing project starts accelerated 22 percent from 2011 within the district, and the number of available lots decreased 26 percent.
By 2017, there will be nearly 12,000 new single-family homes in the district, and southwest Katy accounts for more than half of that total, according to the study.
The increase is evident in the area surrounding Obra D. Tompkins High School, which is set to open this fall. Cinco Ranch Northwest, Marshall Oaks and Westlake are among several new residential developments. Cinco Ranch Northwest alone will provide more than 1,100 home sites.
"Home sales in all of Cinco Ranch are very robust," said Jennifer Taylor, vice president of marketing for Newland Communities.
Cinco Ranch Northwest opened last year with four sections with more than 300 lots, she said, and an additional section opened earlier this year. Another two sections are set to open in the fall.
Cinco Ranch Northwest currently offers homes in six sections, about one third of the entire development.
The newest players to the southwest sector's residential scene line Greenbusch Road in between Gaston Road and Westheimer Parkway. Westlake is owned by Meritage Homes, which builds in six other Katy area neighborhoods. Marshall Oaks is across Greenbusch Road from Westlake, and it is owned by D.R. Horton.
Representatives with Meritage Homes and D.R. Horton said homesites in Westlake should become available by the end of the year, and Marshall Oaks construction is scheduled for fall, with homes for sale in early 2014.
Phil Huffman, a real estate agent with Keller Williams, said home sales in general in the southwest area are "red hot."
"Builders just can't build houses fast enough," he said.
The addition of Tompkins High School is appealing to buyers, Huffman said. And as KISD considers adding two elementary schools to the southwest area of the district, the area is likely to fill even faster.
At its Dec. 10 meeting, the KISD Board of Trustees approved an architect to draw construction plans for schools in Pine Mill Ranch and Cross Creek Ranch. In April, the board will review construction bids for possible approval and the schools could be open by August 2014.
"Many homeowners look for schools in the area [they are buying] and how far away they are," Huffman said. "[Schools] always add value to a community, and Katy's schools are top notch."
Fort Bend County is using funds from the 2007 Mobility Bond Program, approved at $156 million, to expand and extend multiple roads. More than $4 million is being used for improvements on Falcon Landing Boulevard and a small section of Gaston Road in front of Tompkins High School.
"This whole area has been immobile for more than 20 years, and now we are getting those 90-degree turns out of the way and straightening skewed roads," said Nathan Hatcher, assistant to the Fort Bend County engineer. "Hopefully it will make everybody happy."
Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers said projects, such as the completed Roesner Road extension and pending expansion, will help mobility through Silver Ranch and Pine Mill Ranch.
The road is currently extended to Corbitt Road, a project that completed earlier this year but will open into four lanes by the end of 2014, Hatcher said.
Gaston Road, which borders Tompkins, is being expanded at its southern edge and extended to Cinco Ranch Boulevard, but that is where the money stops. The project is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2013–14 school year.
"Gaston Road from the high school north to Katy Flewellen Road does not have any funding, so we are going to have to wait," Meyers said.
Although the funding has yet to materialize, the county is in the design phase for the remaining stretch of Gaston Road. Crews are working to expand Falcon Landing Boulevard to four lanes with a curb-and-gutter system from Spring Green Boulevard to Westheimer Parkway, and should open by summer, Hatcher said.
Sections of Katy Flewellen Road, Gaston Road and Falcon Landing Boulevard saw more than 4,000 drivers daily in 2011, according to the county, and will see more as development ensues.
"I drive through there all the time, and the dangerous curves that are being straightened out will help," said Dana Dennis, operator for Fort Bend County MUD 58.