Newland Communities resubmits Telfair development plan

The city of Sugar Land suspended a Newland Communities application Oct. 15.

The city of Sugar Land suspended a Newland Communities application Oct. 15.

Houston-based developer Newland Communities resubmitted an application to the city of Sugar Land that leaves out a plan for 900 apartment units in Telfair after receiving community backlash in the fall.

The new proposal to develop 87 acres near Hwy. 59 and University Boulevard was submitted for consideration May 16.

The plans include office buildings, a hotel, retail, restaurants, banks, and medical facilities with a potential hospital, said Ted Nelson, president of Central Region Newland Communities.

“I think we have more or less a minimum of [between] 700,000 [and] 800,000 square feet of office space,” Nelson said.

Newland Communities originally submitted an application Aug. 31 with plans for 900 apartments, but some community members protested the plan. About 3,000 people signed a petition to change a city ordinance regarding zoning and building regulations.

The city ultimately determined the petition was invalid because of a state law prohibiting such regulations to be changed by a petition.

The city also suspended Newland Communities’ application Oct. 15 because of several concerns, according to a notification letter from City Manager Allen Bogard to Nelson. Among the concerns was the fact that the site had no rights for multifamily development.

Doing so would have required an amendment to a development agreement, a school impact study and public support.

“We were asked to reconsider and we did,” Nelson said. “We’re just a developer. We respect what the people in Sugar Land want.”

However, he said the community may not be as vibrant without multifamily housing. Instead of apartments, the development contains plans for age-restricted dwellings in a senior independent living facility, which Nelson said were also a part of the original plan.

“I personally feel very strongly that we ought to have a place for our moms and dads to live when they get to the point where they can’t live in their home anymore, but yet they still want to live in the community,” Nelson said. “We want them to live in the community that we live in so we did keep that in.”

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council must approve the revised plan. Proceedings are expected to start this summer.

If approved, Nelson said a total build out of the property would take at least five to seven years.

“We have a lot of conversations going on with potential purchasers,” he said. “But until we get a little bit further along in this planning process and approval process, we’re not engaging in any actual contracts.”