HCC buys $12.5 million land in Katy for new campus
The Houston Community College System on Thursday signed a contract to purchase a $12.5 million 24-acre plot of land in West Houston intended for a new Katy campus.
In a split vote on Wednesday, board of trustees approved the purchase of approximately 24 acres of land and a three-year purchase option on an adjacent 30 acres of land at 228 Colonial Parkway near the intersection of Interstate 10 and the Grand Parkway.
The plot, designated for a new 140,000-square foot, multi-floor HCC-Katy facility, is located near Katy Asian Town and adjacent to the University of Houston-Katy’s facility, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.
HCC Chancellor Dr. Cesar Maldonado said Thursday the current timeline has HCC-Katy scheduled to open in summer of 2021 and will tap into the growing demands of the West Houston population and the Katy Independent School District, which this year reached its goal of 80,000 students.
Chairwoman Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz and Trustees Dr. Adriana Tamez, Zeph Capo, Eva Loredo and Dr. John Hansen on Wednesday voted for the acquisition, trustees Dave Wilson and Robert Glaser voted against it; and Neeta Sane and Dr. Pretta VanDible Stallworth abstained.
The Colonial Parkway plot was just one of five potential locations reviewed by the board. Others included a 159-acre plot of land on Clay Road at Interstate 10, 78-acres on Morton Road at Katy Fort Bend Parkway and 15 acres on University Park immediately northeast of I-10 and the Grand Parkway, according to HCC documents.
The Colonial Parkway plot was the least expensive to develop at $62.1 million, while the University Park plot was the most expensive at $78.1 million and required a parking garage, according to HCC documents.
Augustus “Auggie” Campbell, president and CEO of the West Houston Association, was in favor of the land acquisition and said the move would bring in affordable and accessible higher education to an area that has a need for it.
“(HCC-Katy) is going to be across the street from the UH-Katy campus and that means we’ll have essentially a four-year program in Katy,” Campbell said. “They don’t really have adequate higher educational facilities, so this will solve that problem.”
Wilson has been a vocal opponent of the Katy land acquisition, which is outside the college’s nine taxing districts, since the item went up for a vote in 2017 and failed.
He called it “a bad real estate deal” in which HCC taxpayer dollars were being used to build a campus outside the district and subsidizing “people who don’t pay taxes” instead of using the taxes for facilities that already exist.
“The state of Texas doesn’t collect our taxes for gasoline and go to Arkansas and start building highways,” he said.
Maldonado said HCC campuses at Spring Branch and the current Katy campus have provided the college with revenue streams, are in robust growth areas and have proven to be a model for future success.
“The Foxlake campus has provided revenue in excess of debt service and has proven to contribute money to the operation within the taxing district,” Maldonado said. “Revenue from outside the taxing district has paid for those facilities and so taxpayers own land and buildings have significant value.”
HCC plans to sell its current Katy property at Foxlake Drive, which is estimated to be worth $14 million, he added.
The college plans to fund the new campus with an initial short-term three-year loan and then by selling revenue bonds, Maldonado said. The plan is to relocate students at the HCC-Foxlake campus to the new Colonial Parkway campus to be nearer to the UH-Katy campus, which opens in 2019, Maldonando said.
In the next 90 days, the college will complete its due diligence of the plot by conducting various surveys, including a topographic, wetland and an environmental study before it closes early next year, a college spokeswoman said.