Most Exciting Projects Underway Across Fort Bend
Fort Bend County is a national and regional leader in household income, wage growth, job growth and low crime, Greater Fort Bend EDC EVP Jack Belt said at Bisnow’s Future of Fort Bend County event yesterday morning. It’s also amazingly diverse and incredibly busy.
Officials from six of the biggest cities in Fort Bend County were represented at our event, so we rounded up some of the most impactful projects happening in each.
Stafford is expanding beyond its industrial roots, says City project administrator Cristin Emshoff (right, with Greater Fort Bend EDC’s Bob Graf and Cobb Fendley’s Mark Sappington). The City’s updating its comprehensive plan with a special focus on quality of life. That includes building up an arts and entertainment district around the Stafford Centre, and connecting it for pedestrians to HCC. Cristin, who played volleyball at A&M, expects the plan to be approved this fall. But Stafford’s not abandoning industrial; Tuesday night, it approved development of a 185k SF manufacturing building for Dishaka on Stafford Road.
City of Rosenberg assistant director Jeremy Heath (far left, with our EDC panel moderated by Barron & Adler partner Kim Loessin) is particularly excited about Texas State Technical College, which bought 80 acres at FM 2218 at FM 359 to build a 5,000-student campus. (That’s as large as its main campus in Waco, and the benefit to workforce development in the region should be a big draw for businesses.) Jeremy, whose wife let him name their kids after Tom Landry and Nolan Ryan, says one of Rosenberg’s biggest boons is its available land; 63% of its 100 square miles are undeveloped. Retail has been booming there (including the upcoming Paragon Outlets), so the team is working on building up light industrial to counterbalance it, especially in the Triple Fork industrial corridor, where Aldi’s putting in 650k SF.
Fuller Realty chairman Bill Smith shared details on Rosenberg Business Park. Fuller is developing those 184 acres on FM 2218. The infrastructure will be complete in four months, and Bill says the team has a couple of big companies under contract and a big one working now. They’re asking for $2.75/SF.
Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson said the city is working with the GLO to acquire the prison property, which it hopes to redevelop into a light industrial park. It also just broke ground on Brazos River Park, 100 acres of festival and park space. He also got some boasting in: Money Magazine called Sugar Land the best place in the US to find a job. City of Sugar Land director of economic development Jennifer May (here with assistant director Robert Lung) says Sugar Land has 25M SF of commercial development, the lowest tax rate in Texas, and one of the lowest crime rates in the US. Fun fact: Jennifer’s seen five US presidents in person and shaken hands with two.
Planned Community Developers principal Don Janssen (whose wife competed in the Miss America pageant) recently announced it’ll start building Lake Pointe One, a 150k SF office building. Why build in this weakened economy? Don (snapped with Fort Bend Real Estate Corp’s Kelly Ferguson and Bud Friedman) says there’s an incredibly limited supply of new product—only 151k SF is in the dirt now, and 133k SF of it is already spoken for—and PCD won’t break ground without some pre-leasing. Plus, he thinks the site is compelling enough to defy a slump.
Colliers Fort Bend managing director Kolbe Curtice and Rubicon Realty Group principal Peter Jacob both work on Telfair (Kolbe leasing, Peter developing), one of the most buzzed-about parts of Sugar Land today. Kolbe (chatting here with Gustafson Group’s Jim Gustafson) says it’s the most fun project he’s ever done, and believes University and 59 will be the next key intersection in Fort Bend. As the City winds down its work on the performing arts center, he thinks it'll start focusing aggressively on building some hotel/conference facilities. If you've noticed Kolbe's always on time, it's because of childhood trauma—he was in a bagpipe band at St. Thomas High School and one day was too late for his mom to drive him and had to take a city bus into school—while wearing his kilt.
Katy’s been a hotbed of office and industrial development lately. Katy Area EDC CEO Lance LaCour (here with PSI’s Rich Patrick and JLL’s Mark Dennis) says Ten West Crossing has completed its sixth industrial building, bringing it to 552k SF. Kobelco leased 100k SF there, and Katy is working with it to create a FTZ. Spec work is underway in Transwestern’s 419k SF at West Ten Business Park and Exeter/Archway’s 700k SF at Mason and Franz roads. As for office, Grandway West completed its first building and has filled it with engineering companies (only 10k SF is still available). It plans to build 780k SF on its 50-acre tract and is looking at second building now. Lance, who was an elite triathlete who once did a 5K in 16:45, is also excited about the Cane Island interchange completing this summer.
The City of Fulshear just did special purpose annexation of over 1,000 acres on the north part of its ETJ. Economic development director Cheryl Stalinsky (manning her booth with economic development assistant James Bjacek) says it’s an incredibly exciting opportunity for the city to build up its economic base, especially since the site includes Rooms to Go’s giant facility. Fulshear has come a long way since ’06, when it was the storage bin capital of Fort Bend. Now it’s a residential powerhouse—500 homes have sold there so far in 2015—and is No. 1 in the county for growth, education, household income and ad valorem tax. Cheryl has 18 grandkids and one great-grandkid.
Johnson Development has five active developments in Fort Bend, and two coming later. COO Doug Goff says Fulshear is a particularly great opportunity for quality master-planned communities; it recently bought a large tract there. (No surprise then that we found him chatting with Fulshear Mayor Tommy Kuykendall and LJA Engineering’s Gary Mensik during networking time.) Johnson is also targeting Richmond/Rosenberg. The firm is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and has 12 communities under construction now, totaling 70,000 residential units and 10M SF of commercial space. Although Doug keeps his accent under control, he's a pure Cajun from Lafayette.
Richmond was intentionally quiet for years, City economic development director Rob Tobias says. (We found him with PAGE’s Jeff Willis.) But now it’s picking up the pace, including looking for mixed-use development on 500 acres on 59, building up small businesses in the area, and increasing both commercial activity and tourism in its historic district. He’s particularly pleased with some transportation projects underway (including the expansion of Williams Way, which’ll connect 59 to the historic district) because they’ll open up new areas.