Noble Energy moves in to LSC–University Park

Noble Energy is set to open in Northwest Houston this summer, bringing hundreds of job opportunities and establishing new partnerships with Lone Star College–University Park. The global energy company has already begun relocating to an existing facility renamed Noble Center One and has plans to break ground on the 20-story Noble Center Two this summer.

"This expansion is part of a long-term plan designed to enhance Noble Energy's performance," said Charles Davidson, chairman and CEO of Noble Energy. "Our new global headquarters will bring our [workforce] closer together, helping to provide the type of working environment that will fuel Noble Energy's continued growth."

Noble Energy is a Fortune 1000 company that works to explore and develop hydrocarbon resources around the world. Once completed in 2015, the new campus will bring between 750–800 employees to the area by the summer and will be looking to employ up to 1,600 individuals by 2015. Noble will be looking to hire individuals in various fields ranging from administration to information technology to geoscience and engineering management. By selecting University Park as a partner, the company will be able to recruit students for positions in finance, engineering, legal and environment health and safety fields.

Education partnerships

Noble Energy announced in January the relocation of its headquarters from the Greenspoint area to the 10-story former Hewlett-Packard headquarters adjacent to LSC–University Park. The building—renamed Noble Energy Center One—is undergoing renovations to include improvements to the structure's lobbies and other common areas, outdoor landscaping and parking garage features.

The energy company plans to move in several phases beginning this summer when it breaks ground on an adjacent 20-story building, which will bring the total square footage of the campus to nearly 1 million. The two structures will be connected by a skybridge.

In addition to several cutting-edge features, the new Noble Energy campus will operate an on-site child care center both for its employees and those affiliated with LSC–University Park as part of the partnership formed between the two entities, said Shah Ardalan, president of University Park.

"We could not have asked for a better neighbor," he said. "It is interesting to see that our visions align very closely. [Noble] is giving us the initial funding to change the visitor's center into a childcare center. So we're going to have affordable child care for our students, for them and for the community."

Since beginning its relocation earlier this year, Noble has been using several University Park facilities, specifically the conference center, on a weekly basis.

"Great things grow here," Ardalan said. "Like any other company, [Noble Energy] sees where the growth is, they see where there is a workforce they can hire—they look at a lot of things. The community is pulling together, businesses are growing, and for them to find a partner in us I think was a positive thing for them. This is just the beginning."

According to Ardalan, one of the most valuable benefits of the Noble Energy relocation will be the exposure of the corporate world to University Park students.

"We want our students to come out and be ready to jump in and get started," Ardalan said. "All of these people will be eating in the same cafeteria. You will see a university student and a professor and a vice president of a multi-national company sitting and talking, and relationships are built. People see this and get used to living and working in such an environment."

Sustaining the growth

Nobles Energy's new headquarters is being constructed in an area that has seen a large amount of new developments in recent months.

"A community like Cy-Fair is a great place for Noble Energy to land," said Leslie Martone, president of the Cy–Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce. "[Cy–Fair] has so many amenities that employees can take advantage of and many mobility options for commuters."

With Hwy. 249—the future Tomball Tollway—scheduled for expansion, accessibility to the area by motorists is expected to increase. This is expected to bring a variety of new businesses and residential developments to the area, according to the Northwest Houston Chamber of Commerce.

"The Hwy. 249 corridor has several great features," said Barbara Thomason, president of the Northwest Houston Chamber of Commerce. "A lot of people certainly gravitate toward excellent school districts, and we have that. People often want to live in an established neighborhood, and we have a lot of established neighborhoods as well as new construction. We have great access to major roads and an increasing abundance of green space. When you look at that, it gives residents and business owners plenty of options."

The adjacent Vintage Park is part of a mixed-use community that provides more than 500,000 square feet of retail and office space, more than 1,500 restaurants, two apartment complexes, two hospitals and a luxury hotel. In addition to these amenities, San Antonio-based real estate firm Embrey Partners has announced its plans to build a 336-unit luxury apartment complex off Hwy. 249 and Cypresswood Drive beginning in May 2013.

"Our intention for this development is to create a product that is attractive and hip, similar to what you see in an urban atmosphere," said John Kirk, vice president of Embrey Partners. "We call it urbanizing the suburbs."

In order to sustain area growth along the Hwy. 249 corridor, several factors such as improving transportation, expanding emergency services, maintaining property values and increasing amenities have to be considered by residents, business owners and elected officials, Thomason said.


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