Three developments planned in Shenandoah

Shenandoah is on the brink of a development boom that could bring $700 million in value to the city. Three projects are in the works for the city, including a live-work community, a neighborhood of single-family homes and a large-scale development that will feature a movie theater, hotels, restaurants and retail, according to Mayor Garry Watts.

City Administrator Greg Smith said the developments are a game changer for the city.

Two developers, Sam Moon Group and Palmetto Homes, are proposing the major development projects east of I-45, just south of the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital that is under construction. In addition, David Weekley Homes is planning a 32-home gated community on Wellman Road west of I-45.

“With all the people that will be [in the new developments] working, visiting and living, it’s going to be a major development for us,” Smith said. “To have 100 single-family homes in that live-work environment, that is going to be really neat for the city. Because now we’re going to have a major number of residents on both sides of I-45.”

In March the city approved zoning changes for the new projects. Although the city suggested the projects would be completed in three to five years, the developers will determine the actual completion dates, Smith said.

Proposed developments

Palmetto Homes plans to build an 8.75-acre, 99-unit residential development called The Village at East End, which will include office space, retail, small shops, start-up businesses and small showrooms, Palmetto Group owner Tim Crawford said. The architecture of The Village of East End will resemble the urban look of residential properties found in Houston’s inner loop, he said.

“There’s a lot of demand for housing projects near The Woodlands area,” Crawford said. “There are also two hospitals that are expanding and two additional brand new hospitals less than three-quarters of a mile [from the planned development], so that’s a major impetus. The ExxonMobil campus [in Spring] is a couple miles down the road with easy access to [I-45]. Shopping and restaurants—everything’s a stone’s throw away from the project. It’s a hot little spot.”

By July or August work will begin on the development’s infrastructure, Crawford said. Presales could begin in the fall with models opening in April or May 2016. Home prices will be about $300,000, he said.

Sam Moon Group, which developed Sam Moon Center south of Hwy. 242, is planning to build Metro Park Village. The goal of the project is to add a mixed-use development to the existing Sam Moon Center, said Daniel Moon, Sam Moon Group vice president.

“We’ve been in the market,” Moon said. “Our retail stores do well there. We’re watching all the growth, and now is the time to add additional development.”

Metro Park Village is a 69-acre mixed-use development with 900 units of multifamily apartments. The development will include retail, office space, restaurants and potentially a theater with an Imax screen and full-service hotel, Moon said.

“[The city of Shenandoah] has a real need for meeting convention space, so that is something we’re willing to look at—to add a full-service hotel,” Moon said.

The first phase of Metro Park Village could open by winter 2017, Moon said.

Phase 1 could include construction of 300 multifamily units, retail, restaurants, the theater and a limited-service hotel.  About 300 apartments could open with the first phase as well, he said.

“We’ll break ground by the end of 2015,” Moon said.

In addition to The Village at East End and Metro Park Village, Wellman Manor was approved for development in March. A previously announced project, WoodLofts Apartments, a 350-unit apartment complex at I-45 and David Vetter Boulevard, will be complete in 2016.

The city has 2,300 residents and will see 1,300 new home sites with all of the upcoming planned developments, Smith said.

“[The new home sites] equals that number of [homes] that we have on the west side of I-45,” he said. “We will have as many [homes] on the east side of I-45 as we have on the west side of I-45,” Smith said.

Infrastructure concerns

Although the city of Shenandoah could see a financial windfall from the sales and property tax revenue generated from the developments, it could face roadway infrastructure problems, Smith said.

Smith said all of the roads in the new developments will be built by the developers but future road congestion is a concern. The city plans to prepare ahead of construction of the developments to alleviate future congestion, Watts said.

Engineering solutions such as dedicated turn lanes on existing roads, for example, could ease traffic problems, he said.

“We’ve seen too many mistakes with mobility not meeting the capacity that is necessary,” Watts said. “We just need to plan well in advance for the capacity and the functionality.”

One of those solutions could be the extension of David Memorial Drive north to Hwy. 242, Smith said. An engineering contract for the extension will be presented to City Council in May.

The new developments will also bring added expenses to the city, Smith said. Increased operational expenses, such as additional police and public works employees, is one such example. Once the needs to accommodate the developments are determined, city authorities will be in a better position to anticipate what the costs are and how much expense will be added to the city.

“There is going to be a cost to the city for this development,” Smith said.

However, he said the additional property tax revenue will offset the costs.

“It will have an impact on our operating budget—there’s no question,” he said. “We know there’s going to be an increase in sales tax [revenue], but it’s hard to predict what that increase will be because the whole area is growing.”