Developers Take Notice Of Bryan/College Station In A Big Way
When it was founded, College Station was little more than a tiny train stop in the middle of nowhere. These days, the Bryan-College Station area has become a mecca for college football fans around the world, drawing in tens of thousands every weekend to fill Texas A&M's new 110,000-person-capacity Kyle Field. Developers are racing to cater to the masses.
It's not just seasonal football that's driving developers crazy in College Station. The area is also benefiting from two distinct sectors: life science and retirees. The area is slated for three new boutique hotels, two new mixed-use developments, a new retirement community and dozens of new homes.
Valencia Group's Cavalry Court (pictured), a new vintage-inspired 141-room hotel, will open in November. The Stella, a 176-key, four-star property is slated to open in 2017. The George, opening in spring 2017, will offer 162 luxury rooms.
The hotels will be the centerpieces of their own developments. Cavalry Court (designed by one of the country’s most innovative designers, Rottet Studio) is the cornerstone to Century Square, a 60-acre destination under development by Midway offering retail, restaurant and entertainment venues; office space; and apartment homes at 100 Park.
The Stella is the centerpiece of Lake Walk, a 180k SF town center under development that will complemented by a five-acre lake and over two miles of hiking trails. The property will feature a seasonally driven, farm-to-table restaurant; craft cocktail bar and artisan coffee shop; as well as an outdoor pool, poolside cabanas, and over 10k SF of meeting and event space. Designed by Dallas-based FAB Studios and Design DMU, The Stella will be operated by Trust Hospitality, which runs award-winning hotels and resorts around the world.
USA Today recently named College Station the fourth-best "unknown" retirement destination in the US. The publication ranked cities not typically considered retirement destinations based on tax and crime rates, an active downtown and good medical facilities. College Station Senior Services coordinator Marci Rodgers has seen the active senior population boom since she started with the city in 1998. She said in 2002, an average of 3,000 seniors participated in city programs each month. In 2012, that monthly average had ballooned to 14,000. Many of the retirees are attracted by the proximity to the university and major metros like Houston and Austin.
Tapping into the demand, Methodist Retirement Communities broke ground last week on The Langford, offering 72 condo-style flats in a maintenance-free, amenity-filled lifestyle community for seniors.
College Station has over 100,000 annual residents. Combined with the roughly 78,000 residents in Bryan, the two cities form a sizable market.
Like the university itself, managing growth is the area's biggest challenge. The two local governments are doing their best to keep up with the pace of development. Last week, the College Station City Council approved several zoning and land uses changes for more than 100 acres in various parts of the city, most of which will allow for multifamily and commercial development.
Economic development manager Jennifer Prochazka says the changes are intended to preserve some areas specifically for commercial development, and there are a number of other properties in College Station she thinks would warrant a city-initiated zoning change to preserve that land use.
As the local saying goes: keep Austin weird, keep College Station normal.