Corporate, residential and retail developments on the horizon
The changing landscape brought on by the continued development of University Boulevard has made the corridor an attractive site for residential, business and educational growth. Large companies plan to relocate to the corridor and are expected to bring more jobs and supporting industries to the area over the next few years.
With plans to extend University Boulevard from Hwy. 6 at Murphy Road in Missouri City through Hwy. 90 in Sugar Land by the end of the year, the corridor is expected to link several developments in the county.
"From a mobility standpoint, [University Boulevard] essentially provides an alternate route [to Hwy. 6] and the traffic that has built up over time, and it interconnects multiple master-planned communities," said Jeff Wiley, president and CEO of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council. "It is a unique and accessible high-amenity location that will only get better over time."
Contributing to the growth of the corridor, Texas Instruments and Fluor Enterprises have plans to move to the area as a result of incentive packages provided by the city of Sugar Land. The approved packages require a certain number of permanent jobs be maintained at each facility and calls for significant capital investments. In return, the corporations receive net benefits from the city.
"This does not include the indirect benefits provided to our smaller service businesses providing supplies, dining and other services to the companies," said Regina Morales, director of economic development for the city.
Fluor Enterprises, a subsidiary of the global Fluor Corporation, is in the process of purchasing a 50-acre tract for a facility within the Telfair commercial district.
"[Fluor's] facility was built prior to 1985," Wiley said. "It is a signature location for the community, but the technology has changed since it was built. Their need for space is now defined differently."
According to Fluor's director of real estate, Stu Essery, the company is looking to build several buildings in a campus setting with a capacity of 2,000–4,000 employees. The process of building a new facility will likely begin in the next five years, he said.
Dallas-based Texas Instruments is working on a new three-story, 165,000-square-foot structure situated within the Telfair commercial development adjacent to Fluor's proposed site. Construction is slated for completion in early 2014, and the facility is expected to bring nearly 400 jobs to the area.
With its continued enrollment growth, the University of Houston–Sugar Land campus is expected to run into a space issue in the fall of 2014 and is looking to add more facilities and programs, associate vice chancellor Richard Phillips said. Since opening its doors, the campus has grown to offer more than 30 academic programs that coincide with new industry in the area.
"The programs drive the facility," Phillips said. "There has always been a certain degree of partnership, but I see there being more visibility of that in the future."
The city of Sugar Land plans to build a performing arts venue across from UH–Sugar Land and a possible festival site nearby, which could lead to the addition of an event planning degree option, Phillips said. Other additions could include science and technology as a response to major corporations coming to the area.
"[Fluor] is exploring what their academic program needs are, and we are exploring ways that we can work together to give student's real-life experience," Phillips said.
Along with business and education growth, residential developments continue to expand along the corridor.
As the master-planned community of Riverstone continues to develop, it is expected to provide more than 6,000 homes and an estimated 18,000 new residents once it reaches build-out.
Industries typically look at areas that have an adequate supply of corporate housing and effective infrastructure, said Todd LaRue, principal with national real estate advisory firm, Robert Charles Lesser and Co.
"This area has opened up the door for continued master-planned community development," he said. "The reason this area has been so successful is that it is well-located with [nearby] employment centers."
With about 2,800 homes, the master-planned community of Telfair has nearly reached capacity, but more retail, dining and entertainment options are on the horizon as several developments, such as the planned commercial and business districts and the museum square, progress.
Arts and entertainment
The city of Sugar Land's proposed performing arts center south of Hwy. 59 is slated to break ground in early 2014 and is expected to attract business and provide significant revenues to the city.
"[The center] will be an iconic facility that will expand the city's tourism efforts and impact the economy as a revenue generator," said Doug Adolph, assistant communications director for Sugar Land.