On the Move Relocation Spotlight: The Woodlands Development Co.
As one of the country’s first master-planned communities, The Woodlands continues to be a huge draw for new residents and businesses alike, and has seen a steady incline in population and job growth year-after-year.
Since its launch in 1974, the vision for the community remains true to its origins. As Tim Welbes, co-president of The Woodlands Development Company put it, “You have a plan and you execute that plan.”
During a recent interview, he shared his thoughts about why many Houston area newcomers choose The Woodlands for their home, as well the latest master-planned community for his company that serves the vast employment center in the area.
Following are excerpts from our conversation:
MS: What types of housing options can newcomers expect to find when visiting The Woodlands?
TW: The majority of The Woodlands has single-family housing, but we also have thousands of apartments, and probably over a thousand townhomes. We also have some condominiums, and there’s a duplex townhouse design, which is also a niche we serve.
MS: What makes The Woodlands so successful as a master-planned community?
TW: An original design plan element that has always been a point of distinction for The Woodlands is the dedication of the land for our Town Center, which is our downtown employment area with retail shopping and restaurants. The original plan called for much on-site employment, which is now a reality. We have charts going back to 1974 that show steady growth year-after-year. Having that plan in place, and then executing the plan over time has made The Woodlands a unique member of the master-planned community group for the Greater Houston area.
So, we look at how we can create a lifestyle that makes people want to live here. That has to do with having enough land, and then doing it in a way that helps to synergize the community to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
MS: What factors continue to attract businesses to The Woodlands area?
TW: There’s a relative ease with which we can now offer employers a place to locate their offices. A couple of factors drive that, such as education. That includes the parental involvement in children’s education in a K through 12 environment, where the test scores are impressive. Like most master-planned communities in the Houston area, this has become a component of the success.
Our private schools and community college are also magnets for decision-makers when choosing a location for their businesses. The community college has been very aggressive in reaching out to businesses in the region for training purposes, hosting meetings and providing courses.
There are some other building blocks that were put into place over the years, such as the legacy of the country clubs we have here with The Woodlands Country Club and Carlton Woods. That attracts certain C-Suite employees who will consider having an office near where they recreate.
MS: What can you tell me about The Woodlands lifestyle?
TW: The Creekside Park Village retail center is becoming a very cool environment for the residents. We have movies and entertainment there.
I recently visited a couple of the model homes, and the salespeople relayed some of the comments from buyers, who said that they love this area because it’s so walkable. That’s not by accident, that’s what the plan was.
Of the 116,000 people who live here, everybody has their own story. So, I would love to be able to get prospects to come here and find somebody in their peer group to get a sense of how they’re living.
MS: What can you tell me about your newest master-planned community, The Woodlands Hills?
TW: Affordability is one of the big drivers for our latest community, which is located between Conroe and Willis. It will serve the job growth of ExxonMobil, Anadarko and the employment base in North Harris and South Montgomery counties.
We have single-family homes there that are available today from $231,000 to just over $500,000.
MS: What do you think 2019 might look like in The Woodlands area?
TW: Industry experts have been talking about more home sales year-after-year, and this year is going to have a greater number of sales than last year. I think we’ve looked at that price of oil as the temperature gauge for how home sales will do, but the reality is that we don’t need oil to be at $100 a barrel for us to enjoy robust pace of new home sales. Houston’s economy is very healthy and vibrant. I think that’s an applause line for the Greater Houston area, because we are fortunate to have such a diversified economic engine.
Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit “On the Move” at blog.chron.com/onthemove.