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How One Developer Plans To Use Opportunity Zones For His Northeast Houston Megaproject

Valley Ranch, a multiphase, master-planned community, is completely in a qualified opportunity zone in Northeast Houston.

The Signorelli Co. President and CEO Danny Signorelli

Developer Danny Signorelli said the opportunity zone program gives the mixed-use environment an extra gear to be substantially more competitive against projects in Springwoods Village, The Woodlands, Katy and Sugar Land. Signorelli spoke during Bisnow’s Future of Springwoods Village and the Grand Parkway event in Spring last week. 

Signorelli, the president and CEO of The Signorelli Co., plans to leverage the federal tax program to finance the development of medical office buildings in the Commerce District, the 57-acre site on the southwest corner of Grand Parkway and Interstate 69. He is in talks with several brokers to launch the first phase of the district.  

"With Valley Ranch being the Main and Main intersection for the [Interstate] 69 corridor and the high degree of visibility and mobility, it lends itself to be and [has] proven to be a regional draw for the corridor, east and west," Signorelli said. "We are excited about what the next 15 years hold for us."  

The 1,400-acre community will be 60% commercial development and 40% single-family housing totaling about 2,000 homes, Bisnow previously reported. Currently, Valley Ranch has 1.7M SF of retail, multifamily and mixed-use planned, underway or completed with more than 750 acres left to develop. 

Opportunity zones have been a hot and controversial topic for the real estate business. More than 150 opportunity zones have been designated in Houston, including in inner-city neighborhoods like Third Ward, Near Northside, Second Ward, Acres Homes, Gulfton, Greenspoint and Sunnyside. 

While city officials and management districts have outlined their desired projects for the program, development activity has been relatively quiet so far. 

Downtown is considered one of the more primed areas that can deploy funds under the tax credit program. A joint venture between Hines and Cresset-Diversified QOZ Fund created a qualified opportunity zone fund to build The Preston, a 373-unit luxury tower in Downtown Houston. It will be the tallest residential development in the submarket when it is completed in 2020.