University of Houston looking to grow in Katy

The University of Houston has taken preliminary measures to file a tuition revenue bond worth $60 million to fund the construction of a new campus in Katy.

Jason Smith, UH's vice president for governmental and community affairs, said the preliminary revenue bond request was filed with the state Jan. 22, and the university has asked District 18 Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and District 132 Rep. Mike Schofield to file separate bills for the tuition revenue bond. Those bills are expected to be filed in February, Smith said.

If passed by state legislators, the bond would fund the purchase of land for and the construction of a 60,000-square-foot facility at an as-of yet-undetermined site in the Katy area. Specific designs for the proposed facility have not been made, Smith said.

The college already has a presence in Katy with the University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch, which provides junior, senior- and graduate-level courses.

The westward expansion of the university is a key part of the school's future plans, Smith said.

"Our expansion to the Katy area is a big part of what the University of Houston is trying to do, to become the energy university for the United States," he said. "Locating a campus [in Katy] would serve the oil and gas interests there, the companies and their campuses there, and would be a key part of the economy of Houston and the future of Texas."

Katy was identified as a potential site for a university satellite campus after it was found that the school's existing

facilities in Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch were unable to meet the needs of the growing Katy area, said Richard Phillips, associate vice chancellor for the University of Houston System at Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch.

According to Lance LaCour, Katy Area Economic Development Council president, Katy city officials have lobbied for the proposed campus.

"The Katy Area EDC, Katy Area Chamber of Commerce and our legislative delegation have been working to get the tuition revenue bond brought up for a vote," LaCour said. "We feel pretty good about its chance of passing."