ExxonMobil Fesses Up to Its Employees About That New North Houston Campus It’s Been Building

An email sent out early this morning to all U.S.-based ExxonMobil employees provides the first acknowledgment by the company’s management of what’s been a remarkably open secret: that the oil giant is building a giant new office campus south of The Woodlands. Actually, the email simply announces that the company is “proceeding with construction” of the project — a fact that should have been apparent to anyone who’s explored a Google map of the area recently, or driven past the small army of construction cranes visible from behind a mask of trees on the western edge of I-45 near the start of the Hardy Toll Rd. and the likely path of the Grand Parkway. (The reader photo shown above dates from several weeks ago.)


Employees already based in Houston in the company’s upstream and chemicals divisions as well as support staff will begin moving into the campus in early 2014 as buildings are completed, according to the announcement. The company expects the campus to reach “full occupancy” by 2015. Notably, the email includes no information about ExxonMobil employees currently working in Fairfax, Virginia, or any other location outside of Houston. Whether employees from elsewhere would be transferred to the new facility is an issue that “the company is continuing to study,” according to the email. Going into the new campus, besides all those low-rise office buildings: Laboratories, conference and training facilities, plus “outdoor open spaces, several food venues and other employee amenities including child care, an on-site wellness center and various retail offerings.”

Photo: Swamplot inbox

37 Comment

  • Exciting they finally announced it. No surprise, they took their time and have an outstanding intranet site for the new campus. The renderings look fantastic, and it’s spurring a lot of excitement. It will be interesting to see how the Springwoods Village development and Grand Parkway developments progress now that the announcement is official.

  • I wonder if they have built in space or expansion plans to ever move the XTO folks down from Dallas? Currently, they seem to have made every effort to keep the two entities separate from each other.

  • I know a lot of Exxon employees won’t be happy moving out in the middle of nowhere, or in the suburb of racial purity and strip malls.

  • Hey, at least they’ll be driving against the traffic if they live in town.

  • Will be interesting to see what other users flock to the area between now and site completion in 2014. Would expect an influx of retail and office space as well as multifamily developments. Houston commercial real estate could be on fire!

  • The middle-of nowhere? Perhaps you have not visited north of the Harris County line in the past several years. You might be surprised at the diversity… As well, you might be surprised that the strip malls are far less an occurrence than in The Heights or Midtown areas in Houston, and surrounded by trees.

    Take a trip up sometime – just for grins… You might actually enjoy yourself…


  • I wish them the best and hopes it works out. But I kind of feel like the suburban campus model is a day late and a dollar short. Am I the only one who feels like the low rise, isolated compound had more appeal to a workforce 10-20 years ago? Do you attract young and valuable people by offering them a compound in the burbs? I get the sense there has been a shift back toward urban places in the last decade but maybe I’m wrong. And then again, maybe Mother Exxon realizes the urban shift is about to get played out and shift back.

  • There are fewer strip malls in Spring/The Woodlands than in the Heights or Midtown???? Do you know what a strip mall is?

  • but Cap’n, oil companies are anything but young. also, every young person in htown knows they’ve traded in urban living for money, whether suburban campus or downtown HQ, it really doesn’t make a huge difference.

    however, 45 blows whichever direction you go and is the most dangerous highway in houston by a long shot. i wouldn’t be pleased if i had to drive that way.

  • “I know a lot of Exxon employees won’t be happy moving out in the middle of nowhere, or in the suburb of racial purity and strip malls.”

    Justin, you should have just reserved your comment to “I don’t know” and left it at that. Obviously, you don’t “know” any Exxon employees. Racial purity……really???

    Elizabeth, you’re spot on.

    Joel, hear you loud and clear about 45. HCTRA is going to get a nice boost in revenue via the Hardy Toll Rd and the Grand Pkwy. when it’s connected .

  • it’s really too bad they picked this spot. I understand some security concerns, but it would have been nice to have three new Exxon skyscrappers to compete with Chevron’s. Oh well–wasted opportunity for the city

  • I have a few friends moving to Houston who are going to live in the ‘burbs – not because they’re into racial purity and strip malls but because that’s where they can actually afford to buy a home. The less fashionable an area becomes, the more affordable it is to people of modest means, which typically means the sneerers look a bit snobbish. Which suddenly turns the formerly unfashionable area fashionable (I believe the vogue term right now is “authentic”), and the sneering and budgeting just reverses itself.

    Laughing at the people who have tight budgets but aren’t poor enough to actually be considered poor is an old means to paint a veneer onto one’s classism, and it’s often couched in the argument over whether surbubanites or midtowners are morally and culturally superior. It’s utterly ridiculous, but it’ll never stop.

  • @inside edge

    I know at least a dozen Exxon employees, judging by their facebook statuses, they aren’t very happy about the announcement, but they all knew it was coming anyways.

    And as for my other comment, look up the demographics of The Woodlands sometime.

  • Guess those employees haven’t heard there is a recession going on? They will be easily replace with the 10% of the population who’s out of work or another 10-20% who are underemployed. Aren’t a lot of these folks working in Greenspoint now?! Hardly a bad move up I45 for them.

  • Man its going to be an awesome campus. Cant wait to work there!!!!!!

  • “And as for my other comment, look up the demographics of The Woodlands sometime.”

    Yes, you’d be surprised by how many Mexican nationals live there.

  • I agree with htownproud this definitely should have been downtown . . . What a disappointment ! ! ! As much as I love Houston sometimes I really don’t understand developments here.

  • @LinC You’d be amazed at how many jobs there are right now in the Oil industry, especially in engineering and geoscience. They can’t fill the roles fast enough.

  • Let’s see Greenspoint? Spring? Greenspoint? Spring? Likes its really a hard choice. I am looking forward to moving to the new Spring Campus after 12 years at Greenspoint.

  • I live in the “Energy Corridor” and know quite a few Exxon employees who will not enjoy this commute.Metro’s 131 runs along Memorial Drive, but only has one express bus, which goes downtown.Perhaps Exxon will institute a ride-share program.Because nobody will be able to relocate.(Kids in school,homes underwater, etc.).

  • Anadarko has had their campus in the Woodlands for a decade or so at this point, and the folks who live up that direction love it. They can go home for lunch, and not worry about working late. Lots of younger employees moved out that direction.

    Some employees stayed put in town, and vanpool, carpool or put the miles on their cars.

    I understand why people like it, but I also totally understand why anyone living in-town, who bought in town presumably because they wanted to be closer to their downtown work location, is probably going to hate it.

  • @Justin: No doubt, been in the industry for quite a while. I’d be willing to bet the engineers and geoscientists aren’t the ones complaining on FB about the move. They realize the good gig they have…

    Is a shame downtown can’t manage to attract more tenants, but would guess suburban tax breaks were too good to pass up.

  • It may surprise you to learn that a lot of us employees of oil and gas companies do not work in office towers full of cubicles. We work in laboratories and engineering workshops and pilot plants and we do work that would be almost impossible to get use permits for in a downtown building, even before you try to imagine constructing the required buildings and interiors. Chevron has a lot of those people on the West Coast. Exxon and Shell have them here, in their outside the belt developments. The service companies are all further out for the same reason. Try building a high bay lab space or a pressure test facility on the 23rd floor of a downtown tower block.

    Also, the latest census data very clearly showed the urban core becoming more homegenously white whilst the surrounding areas were becoming more multicultural. You can’t argue with data

  • LinC, the XOM site is in unincorporated Harris County, however is perhaps a few hundred feet from Houston’s city limits. It will be subject to limited-purpose annexation, just like >95% of other commercial properties in far north and northwest Harris County. This means that the City of Houston gets all of tax revenue and provides basically no services.

  • Has anyoen figured out whose city limits or ETJ this falls in?

  • The campus falls within the Houston ETJ, on the Harris County side of the northern county border. Dollars to donuts the COH is going to annex this area as soon as they can get their claws into it.

  • When I saw this announcement at work, I was happy to see Exxon finally publicly discussing what many had suspected for months, if not years. That said, I understand why they take their time in making announcements. Lots of details to work out when dealing w/ a change that will impact thousands of employees and families.

    A lot of people who are young do have townhouses in the loop and will likely just reverse commute to work since The Woodlands does not have the nightlife they’re looking for. I have heard from friends that it’s a great place to live if you have kids; however, if you don’t, there’s not much of a scene going on there.

    Even though I fall into this younger category, I’m excited for this campus and hope I will be able to work there someday even if my commute time increases a lot.

  • Thought I’d post this link in todays NYT about UBS moving back to Manhattan after 15 years in Connecticut due to the diffuculty in recruting people to the burbs. Not saying that downtown is Manhattan and Spring is Stamford. Just passing along a topical article.


  • I left a reverse commute to the burbs in another city for a carefully planned, live & work close to the center of the city life here. I calculate that this gave me back 90 minutes of every day, which adds up to 15 full days over the course of year. That’s HUGE. And while it’s fair to point out that not everybody can afford the prices of Montrose or the Heights, there are tons of far more affordable, pleasant places to live in town. Of course, you won’t have 900 square feet per family member (to air condition and clean and so on).

    We all have different priorities, and if you really want to live in a space that would have been intended for English nobility in another era, go for it. But just remember that you are making a very real tradeoff in time and commuting expense. People don’t think of it because hours in the car to get to an oversized house is now considered normal, but it’s worth stopping and thinking about it.

  • Leave to Exxon to raise a forest. In a few years, people will wonder they call it the Woodlands…oh yea, that strip of trees along the freeway.

  • Houston should go ahead and annex.

  • @greg, the development is not in The Woodlands. It is in the Spring area, in unincorporated Harris County. And, the word you were looking for is “raze”.

  • Congratulations John for reinforcing Sihaya’s point. If you want to squeeze a family of five into a 1200 sq ft bungalow just just to buy the ability to sneer at your suburban neighbors then go for it. I have some bunk beds in my spare room that I could sell you if you’re interested.

  • @Jimbo – I went back and read my comment and figure out where the “sneer” in it was, but perhaps you’re just highly insecure and reading into it. I said, “Think about the tradeoffs you’re making before you make them.” I think that’s *always* good advice, in most things in life.

    I was also pretty clear that I choose to live in a smaller space in exchange for having an incredibly short commute, because that improves the quality of my life. That was my conscious decision. How is choosing the thing that makes me happy “sneering?”

    And of course there are NO CHOICES WHATSOEVER besides a small bungalow in Montrose and 3000 square feet in Spring. NONE AT ALL. My friends you live in much larger houses than mine in Timbergrove or Oak Forest are total figments of my imagination!

    It’s pretty easy to look at demographic data and see that the average dwelling size in this country has increased significantly in the last 30-40 years. I’m just saying that people should think about the value of that extra space vs. what they are giving up for it.

    I’m sorry you find that so offensive, but as they say, maybe you need to work on your own issues there.

  • I agree w/John’s comments on Jimbo.

    Jimbo is merely deflecting.

    Shihaya’s diatribe is an attempt to bait; “racial purity”
    and other claptrap….cheap shots galore. Just a lousy, jealous-sounding effort to derail the fundamental differences in re: close-in vs. Exurbs.

    $200k, btw, can get you 10 minutes from the Med Center…in an improving ‘hood.

    Shihaya makes me want to support a user or commuter tax for the road-cloggers and vehicle polluters.

    Infill remains the answer…hate speech or not.

  • I hope the inner-loop liberals home prices go down because XOM is consolidating north of Houston. Keep your crime and nearby poverty to yourselves… XOM employees deserve a decent place to live and work. Screw your liberal social engineering “commuter taxes”, also…

  • Thx, xom jersey shore! :) I also hope my property values go down, which means lower taxes for everyone. Yay!