AP NEWS

Lake Houston area leaders optimistic about future, present economy

May 2, 2019

The future of the Lake Houston area is looking bright, according to local officials.

Population increase, market value increase and new businesses were the topics of discussion at the State of the Lake Houston Area Luncheon on Tuesday at the Walden Country Club in Atascocita.

Mark Mitchell, Lake Houston Area Economic Development Partnership president, began the presentation by highlighting the Lake Houston area’s population growth over the past few decades.

Mitchell informed the room full of Lake Houston area officials and community members that the population in northeast Houston has increased fivefold since the 1980’s.

In the 1980’s the population in the area was 59,661 — it has increased to over 282,000 since 2018, according to US Census data Mitchell presented.

One thing Mitchell did point out is that the Lake Houston area is in need of young families and individuals.

“Our population above 64 years old is growing at a faster rate than our other population groups,”Mitchell said. “So we have to make sure as we’re as we’re doing development we’re doing development that attracts millennials to our area so we can have that vibrancy (and) continued growth pushing forward.”

Mitchell also said there are over 217,000 unique vehicles per day that drive past Deerbrook Mall and over 85,000 unique vehicles per day that drive by Generation Park.

“The good thing for us is we have the infrastructure; we’ve got immediate access to I-10; we’ve got immediate access to I-45; we’ve got immediate access to Hwy 59/69, and we’ve got relatively quick access to the Port of Houston,” Mitchell said. “This is a very trafficked area from a development perspective.”

A panel comprised of Humble City Manager Jason Stuebe, McCord Development Sales and Leasing Director John Flournoy and McAlpine Interests Broker Adam McAlpine gave their thoughts on their respective areas in northeast Houston.

Promising things

Panelists were asked what are some promising things in their areas.

Stuebe started this conversation by mentioning all the new development that is going on along Hwy 59, such as Parc Air 59 and warehouse distribution centers nearby the corridor.

“It’s not typical that you get distribution warehousing, and it’s not typically something to get excited about. It’s not flashy, it’s not retail but that’s where I think the market largely is headed,” Stuebe said. “We’re strategically located between the (Port of Houston) and the (George Bush Intercontinental Airport) and easy access to the interstate system that it’s kind of a natural fit for us.”

Flournoy said the construction of education options, such as the new Sheldon ISD high school and the 57-acre San Jacinto College-Generation Park campus in addition to the incoming businesses coming to the area is something Generation Park is looking forward to.

Both the high school and community college campus are projected to open in 2020.

“We’ll be training the future workforce of our sub market benefiting Sheldon ISD, Lone Star College, San Jac and all the activity along West Lake Houston Parkway of Humble ISD,” Flournoy said. “From a development aspect, as you get a more highly educated workforce your asset classes can improve as well. As we angle Generation Park to attract more office users, our employee base is going to continue to improve.”

In the Kingwood area McAlpine said working together to get dredging projects started and the progress on the Northpark Drive expansion is what residents should look forward to.

“Making it aware and not forgetting a year and a half ago because that is instrumental in bringing back the Kingwood area, in my opinion,” McAlpine said. “The other promising thing is the expansion of roads and infrastructure … all of that alleviates traffic. It makes people want to be in the area.”

Worries

Panelists were then asked what keeps them up at night about their areas? McAlpine started this conversation by pointing out taxes a big concern for him.

“There was a ton of deals that I lost on land development because taxes were too high,” McAlpine said. “As other developments that occurred in the area started moving toward centralized Generation Park, moving north Humble, moving east. People are having to develop that area because it is now worth the time and the money, but for a long time people just avoided it.”

Flournoy followed by saying infrastructure and public money is a concern for him as well as learning about their new sub markets for their businesses and attractions such as Redemption Square, Wholesome Kitchen and 255 Assay.

“Being able to access public funds and making sure the Lake Houston sub market gets its fair share,”Flournoy said. “My guess is we’re going to be way underfunded; I don’t know.”

For Stuebe its the older population, older buildings and Deerbrook Mall.

“Admittedly some of our infrastructure is dated and needs improvement or expansion. We are working diligently on doing that on nearly a daily basis,” Stuebe said. “I would say it used to keep me up at night the most was (something I read), by 2022, 25% of all American shopping malls would be closed. (Deerbrook Mall) has been our cash cow and in my estimation is the only reason we survived Harvey as well as we did from a sales tax standpoint. I think our mall is going to survive that 2022 mark but that’s certainly something that frightens me especially when we’re so reliant currently on sales tax revenue.”

kaila.contreras@chron.com