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Sugar Land Performance Venue Tops Out

Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land's highly anticipated performance venue, topped out yesterday. Construction has flown quickly—it broke ground last December—but it's been a long process for the team.

ACE SL President Gary Becker (general manager of the new $84M venue and son of Houston mega-promoter Allen Becker from Pace Entertainment) says Sugar Land voters approved the funding in December 2008. Seven years into the project, he says the team (ACE, Linbeck and Martinez + Johnson Architecture) has started to feel like a family. (You had enough family time after one quarter of the Cowboys' Thanksgiving game; imagine seven straight years together.) We snapped Linbeck project manager Tommy Cole with Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson at yesterday's Smart Financial Centre topping out ceremony. Mayor Thompson isn't fazed by the large "family" involved in the project. "We have a unique team, and we gathered everyone early on. The project will be the same model used at the ballpark [Constellation Field]." 

Like the ballpark, Smart Financial Centre will also be a public/private partnership; ACE is a $10M equity partner. Smart Financial Credit Union paid a substantial fee for the naming rights. The development is just one piece in a huge urbanization happening in Sugar Land. Work has been proceeding on development across the city as part of its comprehensive plan and Vision 2025, adopted in 2009. The performance venue is in the heart of prime Sugar Land real estate, on the southeast corner of Highway 59 and University Boulevard. It will be the crown jewel among a series of massive new developments, including the offices for Fluor and Texas Instruments, as well as the contested mixed-use development from Newland Communities.

The Smart Financial Centre is projected to attract 260,000 paid attendees annually, with an estimated return of $572M over the next 30 years. The venue will host musical and comedy acts, theater productions and cultural/performing arts. Completion is scheduled for fall 2016. Rendered here is the main entry plaza.