As the Greater Houston area experiences stabilization in growth and development, The Woodlands Township officials predicted different trends locally in 2024 during the annual Economic Outlook Conference held by The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 16.

Two-minute impact

Patrick Jankowski, chief economist for the Greater Houston Partnership, said the construction of office space across the Houston region experienced a decline in 2023, dropping to 1.5 million square feet under construction in 2024 after reaching a high of 4.1 million in 2021.

However, The Woodlands area has the lowest office vacancy rate in the region, according to a report presented by Gil Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership.
Township officials are also looking to the growth of local amenities and increases in tourism to continue funding development and marketing initiatives.

According to board members in a community update panel during the conference, the township is currently focusing on some larger amenity developments, including the development of the South Gosling Park and potentially moving forward on exploring a Performing Arts Center in The Woodlands. The driver for these developments includes new tax collections such as a mixed-beverage tax approved in September 2023 as part of House Bill 5311.

What they’re saying

Panel members who spoke at the event included members of The Woodlands Township board of directors and officials with Howard Hughes, The Woodlands' developer, as well as one of founder George Mitchell and Cynthia Woods Mitchell's 10 children.

“[The township is] a very unique form of governmental entity, [in] which we get to take those funds that we don't have a lot of restrictions that other municipalities can’t have, and they help to keep our property taxes low,” said Brad Bailey, a director on the township board. “They allow us to build into special arrangements and economic development zones and other tools in our toolbox to help businesses come here.”

"We're in a very unique position as a developer here of The Woodlands," said Jim Carman, president of Howard Hughes Houston Region. "We have a very great fortune as a company to look at generation in our developments and see that develop."

“This was a truly visionary project that broke ground in community planning,” Robert Heineman, retired vice president of planning and design with Howard Hughes, said of the development of The Woodlands.

Meredith Mitchell Dreiss, daughter of the Mitchells, spoke about her parents and their impact on the region.

"It was a synergy between the two of them, and they support[ed] each other," she said. "[They were] extremely highly intelligent, very creative, very funny at times. And she ... was an influence on all of us."