More than a year after Missouri City promised to revitalize one of its oldest and most important areas through a series of economic programs, business is strong along Cartwright Road and Texas Parkway, city officials said.

Herman Rodriguez, Missouri City economic development director, said in an email that Missouri City stands, as it has many times before, is “on the cusp of many innovative projects.”

With $1.5 million set aside for improvement projects, the city has targeted beautification projects, such as median improvements and a facade improvement partial reimbursement program, as well as direct economic incentives, such as the restaurant incentive program to attract and maintain businesses.

These programs have been rolled out since the facade program was approved in November 2021.

The corridors

Missouri City City Council Member Jeffrey Boney said Cartwright Road and Texas Parkway made up a foundational part of Missouri City’s economic infrastructure atpart of Missouri City’s economic infrastructure at one time. Boney sits as chair of the Texas Parkway/Cartwright Corridor Development Advisory Committee, which was formed in 2021. Although interest has waned in recent years, Boney stressed the corridor’s importance.

“In Missouri City’s history, the corridor has always been a major thoroughfare—and still is,” he said. “As Missouri City matured, a lot of people moved from Houston to Missouri City, and the corridor was important for that.”

Boney said the corridor has historically provided a strong entry into the city, with destination venues and daily drivers such as restaurants.

However, Boney said interest in the corridor faded over time as lack of direction resulted in businesses becoming more luck of the draw, rather than intentional, focused economic drivers.

“[Cartwright Road and Texas Parkway] were vibrant at one point in time, but there was no direct plan among previous administration,” he said.

In a bid to find solutions, the city launched the Texas Parkway/Cartwright Corridor Development Advisory Committee in 2021, Boney said. The committee exists to review proposals and provide advice related to the “development and redevelopment” of Texas Parkway and Cartwright Road, according to the committee’s website.

Now, the city finds itself in a commercial upswing.

From January 2019 to December 2020, 43 commercial permits were filed with the city along Cartwright Road from the intersection of Texas Parkway and Cartwright Road to Dulles Avenue. Almost triple that number was filed over the following two-year period, Development Services Director Jennifer Gomez said.

From January 2021 to December 2022, businesses along Cartwright Road filed roughly 110 applications for commercial development and business occupancies. Of those applications, 52 were for commercial changes in occupancy and new occupants, and one was for the demolition and reconstruction of a McDonalds at 1605 Cartwright Road, Gomez said.

In addition, 71 of the 110 permits are all located at one location, a new office suite at the intersection of Brightwater Drive and Cartwright Road.

The plan

Missouri City remains focused on attracting retail and other businesses to both roads, Rodriguez said.

“With all the talk of online shopping, what is actually happening is there is a demand for retail space that is not being met due to higher construction costs,” he said. “We have plenty of incentive programs. ... We also have plenty of already built out space; we just need to market it correctly.”

The Facade Improvement Incentive Program and the Restaurant Incentive Program were launched in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The Restaurant Incentive Program offers a temporary incentive for local or national concepts that are projected to be strong enough to draw visitors to the city. The criteria for approval includes a minimum of $20,000 in projected annual sales tax generation, dine-in capacity and no other locations of the business within five miles of its Cartwright location.The Facade Improvement Incentive Program offers businesses the opportunity to receive a partial rebate on the cost of improving their storefront, according to the city’s website. The rebate acts as an incentive to encourage business owners to reinvest in their property.

Meanwhile, the city also invested in median landscaping projects along Cartwright Road between FM 1092 and Texas Parkway as well as along portions of Texas Parkway in 2021 and 2022, Public Works Director Shashi Kumar said via email.

Future mobility changes to the corridor include a $5.5 million project to reconstruct the Cartwright Road and enhance drainage from Oyster Creek to FM 1092. The project is set to begin in spring 2024, Kumar said.

Program participants

Missouri City has spent only $66,260 of the $1.5 million allocation—all on beautification projects, Missouri City Director of Communications Andre Humphrey said Feb. 23. Several Missouri City businesses have taken advantage of the city’s facade program, including Italian restaurant Alex’s Kitchen, gelato and ice-cream treatery Carey’s Frozen Delights, the McDonalds at 1605 Cartwright Road and Mystros Barber Academy, Rodriguez said.

Renovations are ongoing at Missouri City Central Shopping Center at 2303 Texas Parkway. Southbound Ventures is redeveloping the center, which also is set to receive funding from the city’s facade program after renovations are complete, said Jared Jackson, architect for Context3 Design, the company redesigning the center.

Jackson said renovations began at the retail center in early 2022; upgrades include replacing the roof, installing fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and renovating suites.

“That center was kind of derelict, and several spaces were empty,” he said.

Scaffolding covers the center’s exterior with ongoing facade improvements, which Jackson said will finish in early summer.

After the facade work, tenants will receive new signage, and the parking lot will be repaved, he said. Now, the center is about 75% leased, and several new tenants are set to join the center, Jackson said.

Additionally, attorney Ramond Howard was also approved for the improvement program in December for his office that has been located at 1303 Turtle Creek Drive for 30 years.

Howard said the program shows Missouri City recognizes “the value of making investments to support the businesses along this corridor.”

“We’re very pleased to have been approved for the Facade Improvement Program,” he said. “It has always been our goal to offer a first-class business operation to the Missouri City community, and this funding will definitely help our efforts.”