Multiple mixed-use centers planned for Cypress

The residential landscape of Cypress is poised for change throughout the next few years, as several livable centers are planned for Fairfield, Bridgeland, Towne Lake and Cypress Creek Lakes, giving residents access to shopping, dining and office space without having to leave their neighborhoods.

"Having spent some time in that area fighting traffic not just on Hwy. 290, but on the frontage road trying to get to retail destinations, I think some people want a place that even if they have to drive to it, they could make [multiple trips] instead of getting into a car and dealing with traffic every time," said Jeff Taebel, director of community and environmental planning for the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Livable centers

Defined as a place where people can go between destinations such as where they live, work and play without having to use a car, a livable or mixed-use center generally includes a mixture of jobs, shopping and housing options.

While the city of Houston's lack of zoning has made it easier to develop mixed-use centers such as CityCentre and Rice Village, in the suburban areas the answer has been seen in the popularity of mixed-use centers in master-planned communities.

"We spend a lot of time in our cars, and people like places they can get out and stretch their legs and see other people," Taebel said. "We don't have a great number of places like that in Houston, so I think there's been a pent-up demand."

When master-planned communities first began to appear on the horizon, one of the popular amenities was the golf course, said Peter Houghton, vice president of Bridgeland. But as the area has transitioned from ground to surface water, it makes it more expensive to water the courses, influencing master-planned developers to move in a different direction.

"Most consumers today expect and demand some sort of town center, mixed-use area in the community," Houghton said. "They used to build private golf courses, and now we build town centers."

Upcoming projects

In Cy-Fair, there are several existing mixed-use spaces, such as Cypress Village Station and Vintage Park, and three upcoming town center mixed-use projects in the works.

The Boardwalk at Towne Lake project will encompass roughly 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 35,000 square feet of entertainment retail space and about 35,000 square feet of professional office space. The development will be located off Barker Cypress Road at the gateway of the Towne Lake community, which is developed by Caldwell Companies.

"We decided to include office in the boardwalk project because it brings services that every community needs directly to the community," said Peter Barnhart, development partner with Caldwell Companies. "Suburban offices help improve the quality of life for residents, as they are able to work closer to home spending more time with their families instead of commuting."

In the master-planned community of Bridgeland, there are four village centers planned and a larger town center, all of which will have retail, dining and office space. When the community is built-out, it will have about 21,000 homes, and one goal is to have one job per home site inside the community. Since the future Grand Parkway will run through the community—which is equidistant from the Energy Corridor and the future ExxonMobil campus near The Woodlands—Houghton said he is hopeful that it will have a positive effect on the community.

"I think the Grand Parkway is the real game changer for this project and that area," he said.

In addition to connecting Cypress to other job centers, mixed-use centers can help take some of the burden off Houston's congested roadways, Taebel said.

"In terms of benefits to the region, even if we're not really changing big commuting patterns, every little trip we take off the road helps somewhere," he said.