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Two Different Blueprints: The Woodlands, Conroe Developers Target Office, Industrial Tenants

The rush of residents moving into Montgomery County is creating a tale of two cities with different but complementary approaches.

Anchored by its residential communities, The Woodlands officials and developers are focused on the construction of more office property while Conroe officials want to attract industrial users.  

"Large development can really have an impact on the character of the city moving forward," Conroe Economic Development Council Executive Director Danielle Scheiner said. 


Industrial Focus In Conroe

The CEDC focuses primarily on appealing to employers in manufacturing, distribution and professional and technical services, Scheiner said.

Within those target industries, the particular areas of focus include engineering design, logistics, back-office design, back-office operations, medical device manufacturing, clean energy, warehouse, distribution and oil and gas service equipment manufacturing.

Scheiner, who is speaking at Bisnow’Future of The Woodlands and Conroe event Nov. 13, said Conroe is well-suited for those industries because of its regional workforce, their skills and the types of land and buildings that are available for development.  

To attract those businesses, the council has invested in Conroe Park North, a 1,045-acre industrial park with shovel-ready land, and the Deison Technology Park, a 248-acre industrial park close to the Conroe North Houston Regional Airport, which recently opened a U.S. Customs federal inspection station.

The CEDC has an additional 610 acres under development and expected to deliver in the next 12 to 18 months, she said. It also markets available property and existing buildings on behalf of developers and landlords. 

As a 4B corporation, the council collects a sales tax and allocates the revenues to fund the department, pay for infrastructure projects and fund incentive programs for qualified projects based on job creation and capital investment in the community. The council views developers and investors as partners and allies and must find common ground to accomplish their goals, Scheiner said.

The council's primary concern is to create quality jobs and capital investment that will create a stronger tax base for the community to invest in the infrastructure improvement and support growth.  

Valley Ranch at The Grand Parkway

The interest to develop in Conroe is driven by the area's proximity to Houston, the massive mobility investment, the Conroe airport expansion, the smart regulations and the entertainment benefits from Lake Conroe, Signorelli Co. founder and principal Danny Signorelli said.

People are moving to Texas for jobs, Signorelli said. Companies like Texas because of fair tax treatment and better regulations that promote efficient progress instead of "expensive red tape." 

Signorelli Co. has made significant development strides with six commercial and mixed-use projects in Conroe and its surrounding areas. The company's largest development is Valley Ranch, a 1,400-acre mixed-use development on the Grand Parkway

With an eye on population growth in the Conroe area, which is expected to double from 600,000 to 1.2 million people over the next 15 years, most of Signorelli's efforts have been to address residential demand through mixed-use environments. 

Investments into mobility, such as the construction of the Grand Parkway, creates access to large tracts of land and provides attractive solutions for future development for residential development and for companies that need to grow and relocate to the Greater Houston market, Signorelli said. 

"The two go hand in hand," he said. "Companies relocate where there is a quality of population of an educated and trained workforce. The housing growth provides the population numbers need to satisfy the job creators. So it's a win-win when it comes down to the type of growth Conroe is experiencing."

Going forward, the company noted demand growth in multifamily, retail and technology, medical and life science office tenants. 

"Our local economy is not oil dependent like it was in the '80s, instead it is quite diverse," Signorelli said. 

Hughes Landing in The Woodlands

More Office For The Woodlands

In The Woodlands, The Howard Hughes Corp. is concentrating on soliciting new office tenants to fill up its latest office acquisition, the company's Central Region president, Paul Layne, said.

In September, the company purchased two vacant Class-A office buildings adjacent its Hughes Landing development in The Woodlands.

The former CB&I headquarters, a 257K SF portfolio with four- and six-story buildings, will serve as a multi-tenant space for a broad sector of industries and tenants, Layne said.

Dubbed Lake Front North, the site is the location of Bisnow's Future of The Woodlands and Conroe event on Nov. 13

Prior to the acquisition of the site, Layne revealed the company had little office space availability but increasing demand from tenants — sparked in part by the resurgence of the energy sector

Howard Hughes' Paul Layne

"We are seeing an increase in job growth in The Woodlands and more companies want to office in a master-planned community, where they can live, work and play. And their employees will have a short commute," Layne said. 

The Dallas-based company and wholly owned subsidiary The Woodlands Development Co. have identified several sites that would be ideal for more office product.

Two of the prime sites are Four Hughes Landing, an undeveloped tract within the Hughes Landing campus, and Ten Waterway, an undeveloped lot in the Waterway District that could accommodate up to a 25-story office building. Both sites are in walking distance of amenities such as restaurants, fitness concepts, hotels and retail. 

Howard Hughes is also tiptoeing into the Conroe area with its latest master-planned community, The Woodlands Hills, which broke ground last year. Situated on more than 2,000 acres in Conroe and Willis, the development is at FM 830 west of Interstate 45. 

At build-out, the community will feature more than 4,500 homes with a lot of open space and amenities and will be geared toward energy and medical professionals, millennials and empty nesters. 

"We believe that it provides attractive housing within a 15-mile drive of The Woodlands office buildings," Layne said. 

Join us at the Future of The Woodlands and Conroe event Nov. 13 to learn more.