1. Pearland, Friendswood ready for major commercial, residential developments

2. Renovation planned for Pearland City Hall

renovation planned for Pearland City Hall ZCA+HBL Architects submitted design plans for the Pearland City Hall complex. Above is a rendering of the proposed lobby.[/caption]

What we reported A $6.1 million contract with Pearland-based Construction Masters of Houston Inc. was approved in November. Although City Council members voiced concerns that costs were higher than anticipated, the contract was approved by a 4-2 vote. The council also approved $1.1 million in certificates of obligation, a form of municipal debt, to fund the project. The plans includes electrical, plumbing, mechanical engineering, a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, upgrades to the elevators and security systems, and build-out of the community center. The City Hall complex comprises the 30-year-old City Hall and the 34-year-old city annex buildings. The total cost for the project is estimated at $6.98 million. The city set aside $5.9 million for the project, about $4.7 million of which are previously issued certificates of obligation. The newly issued debt will close the funding shortfall.

The latest Renovations at the City Hall complex began in December. The project does not include the building envelope, which includes walls, doors, windows and roofing.

What’s next The contractor is slated to complete the project by late 2017. The newly issued debt to fund the renovations will not increase the city’s tax rate but would increase the city’s annual debt service by about $55,000, Deputy City Manager Jon Branson said.

3. Developer to build on Sunmeadow golf course

Developer to build on Sunmeadow golf course The proposed Friendswood Trails development will bring 424 homes to the former Sunmeadow golf course.[/caption]

What we reported Parke Patterson, owner of Sugar Land-based Parke Patterson Land Development, faced initial opposition from Friendswood City Council in July to a zoning change that would have advanced a residential development. The 276-acre development dubbed Friendswood Trails would place 424 home sites on the former Sunmeadow golf course, which folded about 15 years ago. Initial opposition to Friendswood Trails stemmed from resident concerns about the potential for increased flooding and decreased resale values. Patterson reached out to the home owners association to  make concessions to residents, like improving Sunmeadow’s drainage and keeping green space for residents with backyards facing what was once the golf course. Patterson began meeting with community stakeholders two years ago to move the development forward. Patterson formed Friendswood Trails LLC in early 2016 and serves as a co-partner. The new company will be responsible for the residential development.

The latest Friendswood City Council approved the zoning change in September to advance the residential development. Friendswood Trails LLC closed on the sale for the land in December. The development includes 80 acres of green space, two parks, trails and five detention ponds. Losing green space was of particular concern for Sunmeadow residents, who had come to enjoy the spacious outdoors but now abut the new development. Although some existing residents will have neighbors moving close to their backyard fences, those living along the horseshoe-shaped green space around Old Course and Gleneagles drives will keep their green space.

What’s next Patterson is working on an engineering design to outline water, sewer and drainage plans as well as street placement. He plans to begin development by spring. No homebuilders have been contracted yet. Build-out of Friendswood Trails is expected within six to seven years of its ground breaking. Homes are expected to be priced in the $300,000 to $600,000 range.

4. School districts plan new campuses, renovations

School districts plan new campuses, renovations Alvin ISD broke ground on Shirley Dill Brothers Elementary School in Shadow Creek Ranch, which will open in 2017.[/caption]

What we reported Pearland ISD passed a $220 million bond referendum in November, which included renovations to nine campuses and the stadium, security upgrades on each campus, technology upgrades on each campus and targeted expansions at seven campuses. Alvin ISD broke ground on two elementary schools, a junior high school and a career and technical education center in Pearland in 2016 with bond funds that were approved in 2015.

The latest PISD will begin design engineering at Dawson, Pearland and Turner high schools as well as Pearland Junior High East and Pearland Junior High West schools in 2017. PISD officials anticipate a December ground breaking at Dawson High School and Pearland Junior High West. AISD opened Meridiana Elementary School and Shadow Creek High School, which were bond-funded projects, in time for the 2016-17 school year.

What’s next AISD board of trustees ordered the sale of $52 million in bonds, the remaining balance from the $245 million bond referendum that voters approved in 2015. The two AISD elementary schools under construction, which are in Shadow Creek Ranch, are slated to open for the 2017-18 school year. PISD is expected to sell its first round of bonds in early 2017. PISD will also put together a 12-member Bond Oversight Committee to ensure transparency and that the district stays on budget.   

5. Higher education options expand in Pearland

Higher education options expand in Pearland Since opening in 2010, the University of Houston–Clear Lake Pearland is preparing for a second ground breaking.[/caption]

What we reported In June, the city of Pearland donated 21 acres to the University of Houston-Clear Lake Pearland Campus to pave the way for a new building and an expansion of higher education course offerings. The donated property is adjacent to the campus, which is located off Pearland Parkway. UHCL Pearland shared an office building with the Pearland Economic Development Corporation until August, when the PEDC moved to Shadow Creek Ranch.

The latest The university is in the design phase for a 52,000-square-foot health sciences building, which will sit on a portion of the donated property. The design architect is PBK Architects Inc. The university is also conducting site surveys and geotechnical work prior to construction.

What’s next UHCL Pearland will break ground on the building in April or May. The $20 million construction project was contracted out to Austin Commercial. The new building will house nursing and other health care programs.

6. Friendswood invests in its teachers, personnel

What we reported Residents living within Friendswood ISD’s boundaries voted in a September special election to approve a tax rate increase. School district taxes are separated into two buckets—operations and debt service. Residents voted to increase the district’s operations tax rate by 9 cents, going from $1.04 to $1.13 per $100 valuation. The rate increase was billed as a way to provide salary increase for teachers, improve personnel retention and staffing, and make up for tax dollars that were recaptured by the state each year through a tax recapture plan dubbed the “Robin Hood” tax.

The latest FISD has raised teacher salaries for two consecutive years, bringing the base teacher salary up to $50,250 for the 2016-17 school year from $47,000 in the 2014-15 school year.

What’s next The school district anticipates increased hiring for specialists, nurses, principals, administrators and teachers over the next year.

7. Fire departments Expand to meet popular demand

Fire departments Expand to meet popular demand

What we reported Fire fighters at the city of Pearland have seen their call volumes skyrocket, and they expect to see more than 1,000 additional calls each year for the next five years. To meet demand, investments in new fire stations, equipment and personnel are being made. Friendswood is also growing its firefighting capacity.

The latest The city of Pearland opened two new fire stations in 2016. Fire Station No. 3 held its grand opening in January off FM 518 and Yost Boulevard. Fire Station No. 2 opened in June off Harkey and Fite roads. The Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department will relocate its headquarters to the new Fire Station No. 1, which broke ground in April at 1610 Whitaker Drive. Fire Station No. 4, off Woodlawn Drive, is undergoing a partial remodel and an addition of about 1,100 square feet.

What’s next Tentatively, the city of Pearland is planning for two additional fire stations over the next five years. Friendswood Fire Station No. 1 is slated for completion in May, and Fire Station No. 4 is slated for completion in March.

8. Pearland sees millions in real estate developments

Pearland sees millions in real estate developments The $300 million Ivy District is slated to break ground in 2017 with residential, commercial and retail space.[/caption]

What we reported The Pearland Economic Development Corporation has attracted major employers and developers that are spending millions to expand their footprint in Pearland. FloWorks International, a specialty supplier of pipe, valves and fittings, broke ground on a 225,000-square-foot warehouse in September on the corner of Bailey Road and Hwy. 35. Additionally, pharmaceutical and biotech company Lonza Houston Inc. broke ground on a 150,000-square-foot facility in March and months later announced plans to add an additional 100,000 square feet to its Pearland footprint. Lonza will be housed in the 1,200-acre Lower Kirby Urban District, which has become a mixed-use and employment center for the city.

The latest A $300 million master-planned and mixed-use center called the Ivy District is expected to break ground this year in the Lower Kirby Urban District. The Ivy District is the project of American Modern Green LLC, the Houston-based subsidiary of Beijing-based Modern Land China Co. Ltd. The development will include townhomes, a retail and restaurant space, hotels, office buildings, a community center, a senior living community and green space.

What’s next Both FloWorks and Lonza expect their facilities to be completed in 2017. Build-out of the Ivy District may take up to three years. 

9. Friendswood residents sue city, contest May elections

What we reported A group of eight Friendswood residents filed suit in the Harris County District Court contesting the results of the May general and special elections. The contest attempts to overturn the results of a contested City Council race and two new sales and use taxes. A downtown improvement sales tax was adopted at a rate of one-eighth of one percent. A street maintenance sales tax was also adopted at a rate of three-eighths of 1 percent. Contestants stated in their original petition the election should be void because a voting precinct was not included in the election
ordinance, some required paperwork was not signed, the election was not ordered at least 78 days in advance in accordance with state law and a slew of other allegations, according to court documents. One of the contestants, former Council Member Michael Stacy, lost his bid for re-election by 215 votes to Council Member Carl Gustafson.

The latest In late November, the presiding judge handed down a summary judgment in favor of the city of Friendswood, which denied the election contest and dismissed the case.

What’s next Residents plan to fight the case on appeal, the notice of which was filed just days after a summary judgment was handed down.

10. Pearland to invest in, reshape Hwy. 35 corridor

Pearland to invest in, reshape Hwy. 35 corridor The Pearland Economic Development Corporation is investing in aesthetic improvements to the thoroughfare.[/caption]

What we reported In an effort to boost recruitment and Pearland’s aesthetic appeal, the PEDC unveiled its strategy in June to redevelop the Hwy. 35 corridor from Beltway 8 to FM 518. The strategy includes entryway monuments, streetscape improvements, business parks, restaurant and entertainment, and a new residential community.

The latest The city of Pearland approved a $654,900 contract with Clark Condon Associates Inc. for design development on the corridor improvements Nov. 14. Once design development is complete the city will put out construction bids for the $5.6 million project.

What’s next Improvements are slated for completion in 2019.