5 things in Richmond to look for in 2017

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1. Large-scale commercial developments set to launch across Richmond area

 

2. Road improvements to ease congestion


What we reported
Traffic volumes are expected to rise as much as 42 percent in parts of the Richmond area by 2025. The Texas Department of Transportation began work on I-69 and Hwy. 90A to ease traffic congestion.TxDoT is adding lanes to I-69 in four segments, including two HOV lanes between the Grand Parkway and FM 762. Road improvements will also continue along Hwy. 90A and the Grand Parkway.

The latest An overpass is underway at Hwy. 90A and FM 359. Comcast is currently working to relocate utilities, TxDOT Public Information Officer Deidrea George said.“[We] are making great progress with the aerial and underground work and should be complete with relocations by the end of January,” she said. A Crabb River Road project from I-69 to Sansbury Boulevard is also almost complete and will help alleviate north-south traffic from I-69, said Mike Stone, CEO of the Fort Bend County Toll Authority.

What’s next Traffic problems at I-69 and the Grand Parkway could also be alleviated soon, as Stone said the FBCTA is looking at an expansion. “We’re looking at adding an additional lane when you come off of the Grand Parkway and get off going to [I-69],” Stone said.

3. Richmond nonprofits launch capital campaigns

Richmond nonprofits launch capital campaigns

Nonprofit organizations like OakBend Medical Center have launched capital campaigns for improved facilities. (via Courtesy oakbend medical center)

What we reported OakBend Medical Center launched Vision 2020—a $10 million fundraising campaign to improve the Jackson Street facility. Another Richmond-based nonprofit, Texana, is launching a $12 million capital campaign. Texana serves individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism and is raising funds for a new campus.

The latest OakBend Development Director Alicen Swift said the campaign will remodel the facility to make spaces more like its Acute Care for the Elderly unit, which she said is a warmer environment that encourages healing. “We’re seeing great response and great outcomes for our patients there,” she said, adding that on average hospital stays are two days shorter than in other hospitalization situations. Texana is planning a new campus on 14.65 acres in Fulshear on FM 359. Tracy Shaw, director of development and community relations, said the campaign would fund the campus in three phases. Phase I, at a cost of $1.5 million, entails building a retail training center and coffee shop. Phase II, at around $5 million, would build a center for children with autism to accommodate children waiting for services at Texana’s other Fort Bend County locations. Phase III involves building a learning center for adults with disabilities or autism in a college-like setting where individuals learn working skills. The cost of Phase III is expected to be $5.5 million.

What’s next Swift said OakBend has raised $2.25 million since May of 2015. A portion of the funds have been used for landscaping and painting the facility. Texana’s campaign started in September and has so far raised $80,000, Shaw said. Shaw said once the money is raised, Phase I would take about seven to nine months to complete. Texana selected Fretz Construction to do the work on the project, Shaw said. She estimated if fundraising goes well in 2017, the project could be complete in three to five years.

4. New communities adding hundreds of homes

What we reported The number of houses built in the Richmond area grew between 13 percent and 31 percent from 2011 to 2014, depending on the zip code. The build-out is occurring despite a 25 percent downturn for new home starts in the overall Greater Houston area.

The latest The Veranda and Telavera communities are expected to open in 2017, according to developers. Those two developments alone will add more than a thousand homes to the area when build out is complete. Fort Bend Economic Development Council CEO Jeff Wiley said master-planned communities are good for the economy because the people who live in them are typically dual earners with disposable income.

What’s next Wiley said the Richmond area is one of the few places in the Greater Houston area that has room for large-scale new development. “By the end of 2018, we’ll have east to west development of an interstate corridor that certainly is going to benefit Richmond and Rosenberg,” he said.

5. School districts amend boundaries

school districts amend boundaries

Fort Bend ISD and Lamar CISD are redistricting some areas to accommodate new schools opening in 2017. (via courtesy fort bend isd)

What we reported Fort Bend and Lamar ISDs are rezoning attendance boundaries as new schools come online in 2017. Lamar ISD Communications Coordinator Phillip Sulak said the district has to rezone students in the new Kathleen Joerger Lindsey Elementary, which will have capacity for 750 students. Fort Bend ISD also has three elementary schools opening next fall, Donald Leonetti Elementary in Sienna Plantation, James C. Neill Elementary in Harvest Green and James Patterson Elementary in Grand Vista. It’s newest middle school, Ronald Thornton Middle School, will open in 2018 adjacent to Leonetti Elementary in Sienna Plantation.

The latest Sulak said Lamar CISD has to rezone one area to put students in the newly constructed Lindsey Elementary. At a Dec. 12 meeting, FBISD trustees outlined language for exemptions for students regarding school transfers.

What’s next FBISD will vote on attendance boundaries at a Jan. 23 meeting. Sulak said starting in January, Lamar CISD will hold meetings and select representatives to give input about Lindsey Elementary’s attendance boundaries. “We get representatives from the schools that are involved, and this case, we’re talking Huggins [Elementary School], and Fulshear High School and Layman Junior High [School],” he said. “Those are the only schools that would be involved in this redistricting.” He said the process in 2017 should be fairly simple. “I expect [redistricting]to be done before spring break,” Sulak said.

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