Development signals population explosion in Shenandoah

Several recent and future residential developments in the city of Shenandoah, and the possibility of expansion within the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction, could more than double the city's population over the next five years.

"We're quite excited to see the new residential developments in Shenandoah," Mayor Wes Stephens said. "Shenandoah has always had the benefit of being in a great location, positioned on either side of the I-45 corridor. In addition, our property taxes and water rates are among the lowest in the region."

City Administrator Greg Smith estimates the city could grow to as many as 5,000 people over the next five years, more than doubling the 2,134 counted by the U.S. Census in 2010. Smith said the city's population has already grown significantly since the last census data was released, citing regional growth and the city's location for the high demand for residential development in the area.

"We don't know if we can get to [5,000]," he said. "We think that's probably our max. But that could all change with one or two subdivisions coming in. If some of the land over here on the east side of I-45 [is developed as] high rise, residential commercial-type apartments, it could change and possibly go even faster, or even slow down."

Residential development

With growth and expansion still on the horizon in Shenandoah, Smith said the city has already experienced a boom in residential development in the last three years.

There were 1,059 housing units in Shenandoah as of the 2010 census, of which 971 were occupied. Since 2010, Smith said, 58 homes were constructed in Parkgate Reserves, as many as 70 homes constructed in Tuscany Woods and another 30 completed in the Silverwood subdivision. Despite the 150 new homes built since 2010, Smith said he expects another 150-plus to be constructed over the next two to three years.

Construction has already begun at the Reserve at Grogan's Mill, a 44-home development at Grogan's Mill Road and Vision Park Boulevard, while construction is underway on another 44-home development, Marion, just across the street.

Tom Cox Jr., president of Gracepoint Homes, developer of Marion, said home construction in the gated community could begin by the end of this year with residents occupying homes in the first quarter of 2014. Cox said Gracepoint also purchased 12 acres of land along Wellman Road for a 55-home gated community, Lily, which also could see homes occupied early in 2014.

"I've lived in The Woodlands since the late '70s and I've been in home building for 22 years, and I've never seen a market like this where there is next to zero supply of inventory anywhere in the area, coupled with the job growth in The Woodlands area and Shenandoah," Cox said. "This is the perfect storm."

Smith said there is additional land along Wellman Road that has been zoned for residential development, while the city has also received inquiries about a possible apartment complex at the intersection of David Memorial Drive and Shenandoah Park Drive next to the Park at Woodmoor apartment complex.

"We've had several other companies contact us about other apartments or multi-family units on the east side of I-45," Smith said. "We've had feelers out for a while."

Possible expansion

Although much of the planned future growth in Shenandoah lies within its city limits, Smith said the potential for the city reaching a population of 5,000 is dependent on some annexation within the city's ETJ, or land outside the city's limits that the city can annex.

"There is some ETJ that we have that is currently undeveloped land, or developed with existing single family residential," he said. "We feel a portion of that could come into the city limits and be developed into more residential."

Smith said the city's ETJ contains land north of Vision Park to Hwy. 242, which he believes the city may consider annexing. The city's ETJ also stretches east of I-45 into the Tamina community. Although there are no plans to annex land in Tamina, Smith said Shenandoah has only annexed land at the request of landowners or developers during the past three years. He said any land annexed in Tamina would be voluntary.

"What Tamina looks like is unknown," he said. "You could potentially see some multi-family there. You could see some commercial area over there. You could even potentially see some single-family. I just don't know, because we haven't talked to any developers that have put any contracts on any of those larger tracts of land at this point."

Effects of growth

With the rapid population growth, Smith said the city could see an increase in property and sales tax revenue. However, Smith said there would be expenses that will come with the city's population growth.

"Any time you have growth, you have the revenue associated with the growth regardless of what tax base it is—sales tax, property tax, water and sewer rate," Smith said. "So you want to make sure you outweigh your growth and your expenses and that it makes sense what you're doing."

Those expenses may include new infrastructure improvements and maintenance. Smith said residences would require new utilities, as well as new public roadways, such as those in Tuscany Woods and Parkgate. The city will have to maintain the infrastructure and fix issues, such as cracks in roadways or leaks in water lines.

"A portion of those tax revenues, regardless of what type they are, will have to go to the maintenance and operation of those systems," Smith said.

He said the city has planned for growth in its infrastructure. Shenandoah recently made renovations to its municipal pool and is surveying residents to determine possible improvements to the city park. Smith said the city also has one of the strictest tree ordinances in Montgomery County to protect its open spaces, and its water system was designed to handle future growth.

"Water is something that we continue to monitor, and we have plans in place to handle our growth on our groundwater reduction plan," he said. "It's something that we're monitoring and making certain we make the proactive steps to addressing the issues that come up."

By Matt Stephens
Matt Stephens joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2012. A Tomball native and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Matt joined as a reporter for The Woodlands team before being promoted to help launch the Spring | Klein edition in spring of 2014 and later to North Houston managing editor in late 2015. He has served as managing editor to the Phoenix and Nashville papers since August 2020.