FM 2978 corridor on verge of more commercial growth, lane expansion

More than 650 acres of land are for sale along FM 2978 between Spring Creek and Woodlands Parkway. However, developers and Realtors believe widespread development could still be two to three years away as much-needed infrastructure improvements catch up with land sales.

The delayed expansion of FM 2978 is hindering development. Meanwhile a lack of utilities such as water and sewer lines at some parcels, is also problematic, developers said.

"The road widening is a huge part of it," said Rob Banzhaf, managing principal of Newcor Commercial Real Estate. "It's like when construction was complete on the Kuykendahl [expansion], the market exploded."

Commercial development

There are more than 30 parcels of land for sale on FM 2978 between Spring Creek and Woodlands Parkway. Many of the parcels range between two and 20 acres and are targeted for commercial development. Among the properties that have recently been developed are The Estates Woodland apartment home development at 30685 FM 2978 and the JJ Business Park at 26232 FM 2978.

Greg Holcombe of Holcombe Properties has eight parcels of land on the market ranging from a half acre to about 14 acres. Most, if not all, will be developed as commercial property.

"This is one of our major areas," he said. "We're getting calls daily."

Ray Allison, director of commercial real estate services for Gary Greene Commercial Properties, said the FM 2978 corridor could provide needed space for independent businesses.

"In The Woodlands there is really no place for the mom-and-pop-type shops," Allison said. "If 2978 is widened, several of those places will turn into shopping centers."

Banzhaf said with so many small parcels of land for sale, it would be unlikely that large-scale development would occur in the area. If it were to happen, it would require a developer buying several smaller parcels to create a large one.

J. Beard Real Estate Company used that strategy to accumulate more than 600 acres to sell to Toll Brothers just east of FM 2978, a deal announced in September.

Susan Vreeland-Wendt, director of marketing for The Woodlands Development Company, said the Development Company owns several parcels of land along FM 2978 totaling about 45 acres.

"Those with direct frontage will most likely be retail," she said. "The parcels that do not have direct frontage could be commercial/retail, multifamily or medical/professional."

Vreeland-Wendt said two parcels at the intersection of FM 2978 and Greenmoor Drive, at the entrance of the May Valley subdivision, are being marketed as commercial and retail parcels.

"There is interest [in the land parcels], but no definite plans as of yet," she said. "[The] most likely time frame for development is three to four years."

2978 expansion

The Texas Department of Transportation has planned since 2011 to widen FM 2978 from two lanes to four lanes from just north of Spring Creek to FM 1488. The $15.2 million project is being funded by TxDOT, but it is still more than a year from construction, TxDOT spokeswoman Deidrea Samuels said.

Samuels said TxDOT is awaiting environmental clearance before putting the project out to bid.

According to TxDOT documents pertaining to the FM 2978 expansion, environmental clearance was supposed to have been completed by July 2013, but Samuels said it likely would not be complete until June 2015.

Samuels said construction could begin about four to six weeks after bid approval and take about 18 months.

"But at the moment there isn't a construction schedule for this project," she said.

Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Craig Doyal has been an advocate for the FM 2978 for several years.

"Obviously that's a critical project for us," he said. "With the growth in Montgomery County, and in particular the FM 2978 and FM 1488 area, that has become one of the major congestion areas in that region."

Holcombe said the FM 2978 expansion is key to continued development in the area.

"[The expansion of FM 2978] is very important," Holcombe said. "It should have been done already."

Samuels said the expansion would include construction of an additional outside lane in each direction with a 5-foot shoulder. She said there would not be installation of a center turn lane in areas that do not already have a turn lane.

"No new center turn lanes will be added, so no additional right of way will be acquired," she said.

In addition to the proposed FM 2978 expansion, Doyal said the county is exploring options to extend Woodlands Parkway to Hwy. 249. The county has already purchased several land tracts for the possible extension.

"We're always looking at not only major thoroughfares but all arterial roads with continued expansion," Doyal said.

Toll Brothers Houston Division President Karl Mistry said he believed the expansion of FM 2978 was important, but that he was confident the expansion would be completed in time for the opening of his company's coming development.

In addition, Mistry said the development would feature a large entry to ease congestion.

Infrastructure problems

Banzhaf said one of the challenges preventing widespread and large-scale development along FM 2978 is the lack of infrastructure in the area. The area is not incorporated, and it does not have many public or municipal utility districts willing to serve new developments.

"The infrastructure isn't there, it's all

very hodgepodge," he said.

Banzhaf said any new developments would most likely need to construct their own water and sewer systems, contract with private utility providers or, if the project were large enough, create their own municipal utility districts. Private companies, such as Quadvest on FM 2978, provide utility services to businesses in the FM 2978 corridor.

Mistry said Toll Brothers would create its own MUD to provide services to its residents once homes start being constructed, which he said would happen later this year.

"We legislatively created our own district, so we have our own MUD," Mistry said. "We are building our infrastructure to [provide]

both water and sewage."

Mistry said Toll Brothers has typically

created its own MUDs in developing most of their other large-scale developments.

"We knew going into this one we were

going to be developing our own infrastructure,"

Mistry said.

Once the infrastructure in the area improves, development could come at a rapid pace.

"As soon as they figure out the infrastructure problem, it will grow explosively," Allison said.


The Firework Extravaganza will begin at 9:30 p.m. July 4 (Courtesy The Woodlands Township)
Celebrate dad, see Fourth of July fireworks: 12 things to do in The Woodlands area this June and July

Events in The Woodlands area in June and July include celebrations for Father's Day and the Fourth of July.

The Woodlands Township board of directors will meet June 17. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Woodlands to resume incorporation planning sessions June 17

After a break of more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Woodlands Township will resume its incorporation planning meetings June 17.

ShareTea opened in Metropark Square in early June. (Courtesy ShareTea)
ShareTea now open in Metropark Square

ShareTea opened June 7 at the Metropark Square in The Woodlands.

Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar opened a second location. (Courtesy Avanti Italian Kitchen)
Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar opens second location in The Woodlands

The new location comes after the original location receive positive reception from the Creekside community.

The Shenandoah City Council approved a resolution regarding an updated thoroughfare plan June 9. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Shenandoah City Council weighs in on Montgomery County's 2021 thoroughfare plan

Among the projects opposed by the council is an I-45 overpass from Vision Park Drive.

Taco Bueno sells tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and more unique items, including the Muchaco, a taco made with a soft pita-like shell. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Taco Bueno coming to Katy and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Sen. Brandon Creighton announced his re-election campaign for Texas Senate District 4 on June 10. (Courtesy Brandon Creighton)
'Unfinished business remains': Brandon Creighton aims at re-election for Texas Senate District 4

Creighton announced his plans to run for re-election to serve his third term for the 88th Texas Legislature.

Q&A: Dirk Lange, president and CEO of KBI Biopharma, talks about biotech growth in The Woodlands

KBI Biopharma began operating at its site in The Woodlands in 2017 and has more than doubled in size to 60 employees in the last several years.

Economist Elliot Eisenberg spoke about the economic recovery post-pandemic, saying this year's GDP growth will be the best since the 1950s. (Brooke Ontiveros/Community Impact Newspaper)
Economist explains housing demand, price booms in Texas, Greater Houston area

Eisenberg explained why home prices are rising at a June 9 Greater Houston Builders Association luncheon.

Officials with the Harris County Justice Administration Department said they identified racial disparities in citations and use of force by law enforcement, among other areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County identifies racial disparities in use of force, citations from law enforcement agencies

Analysis in the report included racial demographics in instances of consent search, contraband discovery, traffic stops that led to arrests, types of citations or warnings, and use of force.

Hughes Landing is one of two locations where new office leases were signed by The Howard Hughes Corp. in The Woodlands in early June. (Courtesy The Howard Hughes Corp.)
Howard Hughes Corp. names 6 new tenants for Hughes Landing, The Woodlands Waterway

The Howard Hughes Corp. announced June 9 six companies in fields including commercial real estate, cyber intelligence, energy and bioscience have signed leases at The Woodlands office buildings.