New office, industrial space under construction tops 700,000 square feet

Three major commercial projects are under development in the Katy area. These projects, when complete, will bring nearly 700,000 square feet of office and industrial space to the Katy area. Future construction phases of these developments will push that number to over 1 million square feet. The developers cited Katy's overall growth and easy access to the Energy Corridor as a major reason for their investment in the area.



"I think the area is maturing as an office market rapidly," said Mark Saviers principal with Myers, Crow and Saviers.



Transwestern Development has announced its purchase of 74 acres in West Ten Business Park, located at the future I-10/Cane Island interchange. Construction will take place in two phases, with the groundbreaking for Phase I set for July. Transwestern plans to develop the site primarily into industrial space, with some offices. Phase I will consist of two buildings, totaling 415,296 square feet. Transwestern expects delivery of Phase I in the second quarter of 2015.



West Ten's location was a major factor in Transwestern's decision to purchase the site, said Pete Johnson, senior vice president of Transwestern.



"The new interchange is a major strategic benefit for the project. The interchange gives the project direct four-way access to Interstate 10 and US 90 with the pending completion of the Cane Island Parkway," Johnson said.



In May, Freeway Properties began work on Katy Ranch Office I, in the Katy Ranch mixed-use development. Katy Ranch Offices will be the first mid-rise office building west of Grand Parkway in Katy. The 151,000 square-foot building will stand at six stories and include a parking garage and connector linking the garage and offices. Freeway Properties is applying to secure LEED Gold certification for the project from the US Green Building Council.



From its inception, Katy Ranch Crossing was designed as a mixed-use development to consist of office, retail and residential space. The construction of Katy Ranch Offices helps complete the vision and overall plan for the development, Freeway Properties owner Mike Baker.



"It's part of a much larger project, and the entire project was a mixed-use development. The retail is there and the residential is there," Baker said.



Like West Ten, Katy Ranch Crossing is seen by developers as a convenient, accessible place to do business.



"The building is going to have great access to entertainment and to shopping and to restaurants, as well as it's right next to Katy Freeway," Baker said. "It's got great exposure and great access."



Meanwhile, Myers, Crow and Saviers broke ground in June on Phase II of Mason Creek Office. Phase I was leased out by GEICO in 2013.



"We had always hoped to do multiple buildings in Mason Creek. But the early success of the first project accelerated the next," Saviers said.



At 127,955 square feet, it will be slightly smaller than Phase I. Phase II should be complete in the first quarter of 2015. Further construction on the interior will be built around tenant needs, once the offices are leased. No tenants are committed yet, Saviers said. However, they expect one large tenant to kick off leasing, with one to three tenants eventually occupying the building.



The completion and further planned expansion of Grand Parkway has made Katy attractive to developers, Saviers said.



"We see Katy as being more and more attractive over time, because of those great commuting arteries for the workers," Saviers said.



In addition to accessibility, developers said, another factor that makes Katy prime for office development is the strong workforce it provides.



"GEICO has found the labor force to be very good out in Katy and the surrounding area," Saviers said. "It's all about labor; the companies are going to come where they can get the labor."



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