With single-family homes in The Woodlands nearly built out, developers are turning their attention to multifamily developments.

However, while the Houston region has seen an explosion in multifamily development since mid-2022, according to MRI ApartmentData, only two developments are underway or planned within The Woodlands, and both will be high rises located in the Town Center area. Both projects are described by developers as aimed toward luxury living.

A 13-story building with 268 units is planned at 1 Riva Row, which developer Howard Hughes has characterized as the first to offer penthouses in a multifamily community. Construction is slated to be complete in 2025.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences were announced in October for Lake Woodlands, with 15 stories and 111 condominium homes available for purchase, rather than as rental units. Groundbreaking is set for later this year, developers said.

Other multifamily dwellings under construction, proposed or completed in The Woodlands area since 2023 are all located outside of the boundaries of The Woodlands Township, according to MRI ApartmentData. These include Neuhaus Woodlands, a 225-unit complex built at 509 Nursery Road in Spring, which is now open, and Metropark One, a 307-unit building under construction in Shenandoah.

The overview

With 19,000 apartment units under construction in the Greater Houston area and another 33,000 planned for the region as of June 1, supply greatly exceeds demand for multifamily housing, said Patrick Jankowski, chief economist and senior vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership.

As a result, the glut of apartments across the Greater Houston region has meant falling rents in many areas, said Bruce McClenny, president of Apartment Data Services. However, the projects planned in The Woodlands—which as of press time had not publicly disclosed rents or sale prices—are aimed toward luxury living, reflecting trends in The Woodlands area for higher rents overall. Developer Howard Hughes does not have other multifamily projects planned in The Woodlands as of press time.

Although rental rates at 1 Riva Row are not yet available, more information is expected to be released as the construction comes to completion, said Travis Guinn, vice president of development and construction with The Woodlands’ developer Howard Hughes.

The Ritz-Carlton, which offers apartments for purchase, has also not disclosed costs, but half of its 111 units had sold in the first week of sales, officials said, representing $250 million in sales.

Despite higher overall costs of living, multifamily rents for existing units in The Woodlands have seen a downward trend since 2022, reflecting regional trends.

According to MRI ApartmentData, The Woodlands/Conroe South area has seen Class A property rents decrease from $1,794 monthly in June 2022 to $1,729 monthly in May 2024 on average, while the number of units has increased from 8,625 to 9,878. The surrounding area of Tomball and Spring, meanwhile, has seen lower rents overall, falling from $1,585 to $1,537 among Class A properties with an increase from 7,744 to 10,795 units available.

Adam Perdue, director at residential market data company Zonda, said even as the housing market stabilizes, apartments will continue to be a more popular form of housing regardless of where they fall on the scale of affordability.

“We've added this additional housing, and so then prices are falling, and then that's inducing more people to ... rent more apartments than they would have otherwise if prices had stayed higher or were continuing to go up,” Perdue said.
The specifics

Overlooking the Woodlands Waterway, 1 Riva Row, a multifamily community, will be completed in 2025 by developer Howard Hughes.

The community will offer a total of 268 units in a 13-story building along with amenities including a sky lounge, a gym, and storage facilities for bikes and kayaks. Guinn said the homes will have about the same square footage range of existing homes in The Woodlands, offering housing comparable to what buyers might expect from a single-family home.

“The demographic that we target here in The Woodlands is that of luxury renters, typically an empty nester, someone that's downsizing from their home,” Guinn said. “So they're still looking for additional space, and so we tend to be on the slightly larger side with some of our units and our luxury products.”

Guinn said Howard Hughes looks at what competitors are doing as well as demand in the area when planning new projects, and the company has found that despite the higher costs, there was “increased desire to live in places like The Woodlands that are rural, masterful [and] highly desired communities.”

The population in The Woodlands and Montgomery County is also growing, which Guinn said is a factor when it comes to the demand.

“It's an incredibly beautiful community, with great schools, great job offerings and a thriving business community," Guinn said. "So just the character of The Woodlands that drives people to this community and makes them want to be here—we have a very, very captive demand of an audience of people wanting to be here that we can supply housing products to meet their needs.”

The takeaway

The push for more luxury multifamily dwellings can also be influenced by a lack of availability and affordability within the single-family housing markets, said Chip Nash, senior managing director of multifamily investment properties at commercial real estate company Colliers. He said higher costs have not prevented areas like The Woodlands from seeing consistent demand.

Although occupancy has decreased slightly in The Woodlands/South Conroe since mid-2022 among Class A multifamily dwellings, from 88.5% to 86.5%, the areas of Tomball and Spring saw a steeper drop from 90.5% to 76.4%.

“Occupancy is high primarily due to the fact that a lot of people that want houses are unable to at this point due to high interest rates and somewhat of a lack of new home sites,” Nash said. “It's limited just because the cost of land is so high. The Woodlands being the No. 3 submarket in the metro, it commands higher rents just because of the availability of land.”