With a new board of directors in place since the November meeting, Brookfield Properties outlined more detailed plans for a massive mall expansion that would bring two new hotels, as well as retail and restaurant space, to the southwest corner of the mall.
Jim Varsamis, senior vice president of development for Brookfield, described the current time frame for the project, which he said could break ground in 2025.
“It is going to be a long process; developments don’t happen quickly, unfortunately, in our world," Varsamis said. "But we are in the process where we’ve kicked off with an architect, and we are starting to work on plans that are going to take it from a concept plan to true design and then ultimately plans that we can submit to the township for approval.”
Brookfield Properties is looking at roughly 80,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant opportunities where the current parking garage and Macy’s surface parking lot sits at the southwest corner of the mall.
Brian Whaley, manager of development and retail for Brookfield, explained the reasoning behind the development is to create a space similar to Market Street for tenants who want outdoor visibility. The southwest corner of the mall was selected to be in proximity to Market Street, which is located at 9595 Six Pines Drive, while providing the same outdoor storefront walkability which he said a number of businesses want.
“Our leasing folk back in Chicago and up in Dallas think there is a ton of demand down here that currently can’t be accommodated on Market Street because they are very well leased up and are going for more of a luxury tenant,” said Whaley. “These same types of tenants are kind of the newer, exciting guys that just don’t want to go inside of an interior mall and want something more of an outdoor, walkable environment similar to Market Street.”
Two additional hotels are being sought as well for the area, with one of the hotels potentially connecting directly to the mall. According to Varsamis, they are partnering with a hotel group and putting together a package to go out early this year for a full-service hotel with conferencing space.
The additional conferencing space is also expected to open up more possibilities for conferences to be hosted in The Woodlands, meaning more hotel bookings. In conjunction with the Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion and Market Street nearby, the new hotels are expected to bring a new wave of tourism, officials said.
“This is hopefully something new and transformational that takes The Woodlands Mall into the next 15-20 years,” said Varsamis.
Actual construction on the project is not expected to begin until 2025, according to Brookfield; however, the process of creating agreements and getting approvals is underway now, officials said.
The board also voted 5-1 to re-establish its ad hoc Economic Development Committee, which focuses on looking at local development opportunities and ways The Woodlands Township can help spur growth in the area, according to township officials.
Director Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was in opposition to the committee being formed because she felt doing so was unnecessary, since The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership also works to attract development to the area. However, the remaining directors were in support of three board members working on ideas to promote local growth from the township side.
Ann Snyder, Brad Bailey and Kyle Watson were nominated and approved to serve on the committee.
Editor's note: This story was updated for clarification and to correct a name spelling, The name of the senior vice president for development for Brookfield Properties is Jim Varsamis.