Is Springwoods Village the New Exxon Mobil Eco-City?

Coventry Development’s senior VP Keith Simon wouldn’t answer media questions today concerning the possibility that the new 1,800-acre mixed-use community his company wants to develop just south of The Woodlands might have the newly consolidated headquarters of the largest oil company in the world as its very first neighbor. In January, the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff reported on plans shown to her — apparently prepared for Exxon Mobil — showing an “elaborate corporate campus, including 20 office buildings with 3 million square feet, a wellness center, laboratory and multiple parking garages” on a 400-acre site near the intersection of I-45 and the Hardy Toll Rd.

Meanwhile, an informant tells Swamplot about a real-estate “study” Exxon Mobil has reportedly been conducting of all the properties it owns and leases in Houston: “the old Humble building at 800 Bell downtown, the Chemicals complex at Katy Fwy. and Eldridge, the lovely Greenspoint campus across from Greenspoint Mall, the research facility on Buffalo Speedway, and others.” The company is considering vacating all these sites — as well as its large and valuable Fairfax, Virginia campus outside Washington, D.C. — and consolidating all employees in the new megacampus just south of The Woodlands. (Baytown refinery employees, don’t worry — you’d get to stay put.)

Writes our informant:

Although the company is telling its understandably concerned employees who happen not to live in Spring or The Woodlands not to worry, that this is still just a study, there is already work being done to prepare the site for building.

Where might have Exxon Mobil have come up with those 400 acres?


Coventry’s Simon says the landowner of Springwoods Village, Springwoods Realty, didn’t sell anything to Exxon Mobil, but it did sell approximately 400 acres of its original 1,500-acre holdings in late 2008 to an entity called Palmetto Transoceanic. That’s notable because Springwoods Realty was otherwise in the process of trying to assemble a larger amount of land for its new development. It eventually found several parcels — including a large chunk further west — to bring the total footprint of Springwoods Village up to its current 1,800 acres.

Coventry’s Springwoods Village site plan (above) shows a large quantity of unlabeled pine forest in the community’s northeast corner — and yes, that’s the portion closest to the intersection of the Hardy Toll Rd. and I-45. Could that be Exxon Mobil’s land? It’s not included in the 150-acre nature preserve at the northern end of the site. And no plans for it are indicated. The actual boundaries of the Springwoods Village development are not entirely clear. The red boundary line on the site plan featured by the developers (below) merely indicates the limit of Harris County Improvement District #18, which — according to a Coventry spokesperson — “includes Springwoods Village land and other land owners.”

The landowner has only been holding onto most of the Springwoods Village land for around 50 years. Why should Coventry develop it now? Simon cites 3 reasons: all the development that now surrounds the property; the impending arrival of the Grand Parkway; and his company’s “vision for a planned community with high development standards and a framework based on mixed use [and] sustainable development principles.”

But if Exxon Mobil is getting ready to consolidate all its offices next door? That would be the clearest explanation.

Springwoods Village park renderings: Design Workshop

34 Comment

  • And people said there is no need to build the Grand Parkway. If Exxon forces all the people out at the West Houston Location they’ll need to parkway to get this site.

  • There have been discussions at XOM for years about consolidating their various Houston offices into one site. Originally, we were told The Woodlands, but this certainly is close enough. I doubt they would really close their Fairfax, VA offices – they’d lose too much talent who would refuse to move to TX. If this turns out to be true, it will really ruin the Hardy Toll Road for those who use it for a reverse commute.

  • I would think they would keep something open in the D.C. suburbs just for the convenience of lobbying. Unless they want to have a group based out of Houston but live near D.C. that work from home.

    The only reason a company like XOM has an office there is for lobbying and working with federal bureaucracies for approvals.

  • Hope the master-plan includes a Walmart.

  • ouch, hope their employees like living in the woodlands cuz 45 is not an enjoyable commute even going in the opposite direction.

  • That parcel floods, and will require more than average site-work.
    However, I say ‘Bring it on!’
    The Woodlands-area has the Hardy Tollroad as it’s personal driveway, so, I don’t feel the Grand Parkway is a necessary factor in this project’s success. Employees will figure out how to get to work.

  • Blue sticks on a swamp?
    Snorkel in four foot pond?
    A ‘burb moon landing.

  • to KJB434:

    Actually, Fairfax was the HQ for Mobil before the XOM merger. The lobbyists who work for XOM do not sit in Fairfax, they have a separate office in DC at 20th and K Sts. The Fairfax office is the global HQ for the downstream businesses – Marketing, Refining, etc.

  • Thanks EKMMG,

    Good to know. I should have realized they would have had an office on K street.

  • Ten years out, at least.
    XOM would just do this to reap mega-bucks on existing properties they sell…consol under one tent just a secondary benefit. Boy, I’d be pissed if I had to give up my Buffalo Spdwy location-across from St. John’s lacrosse fields!-to move to that God-forsaken tract. (Unless I was an IAH junkie)

    I’ll benefit if there’s a 3m sf build-out, but I still think it’s bad for the region…don’t care if Valdez, Inc. thinks it’s best for them.

    Hope it floods…in 12 years, when it’s finally finished. Wonder how much subsidence will have occurred by then?

    Infill remains the answer.

  • The running guy in the yellow and blue stripe shirt in pic number one looks like he’s running from zombies (the new fast kind).

  • Udunno, what does flooding have to do with subsidence?

    These are two totally separate issues that have nothing linking them in our region.

  • Tangyjoe. LMAO. He actually looks like a zombie chasing the guy in front of him but hillarious nonetheless.

  • kjb-
    Pay attention before issuing “corrections”.

    NW is subsiding…rapidly. See Jersey Village. Think XOM area is immune?

    XOM area is already flood prone.

    Two distinct problems.

    Double trouble. Independent of one another.

    Pay attention.

  • Within just a few years, north and northwest Harris County will be supplied entirely by surface water. So yeah, there really isn’t a long-term subsidence threat.

    To the extent that there is a floodplain issue (and FEMA flood maps don’t indicate that there is one affecting the majority of the tract in question), it can be engineered away at reasonable cost by either re-grading, using fill, or raising the elevation of the structure when it is built.

  • Udunno,

    Floodplains don’t grow when subsidence occurs. If it doesn’t, then that blows away 50-years of studies and tracking of floodplains in subsidence prone areas. FEMA has a large subset of regulations in dealing with subsidence documentation and tracking the floodplain. The years of study has shown that when the ground subsides, the floodplain drops with it. Jersey Village floodplain problems date back to when it was developed and other developments near it were built without storm water mitigation. The White Oak Bayou Flood Damage Reduction Federal Project is wrapping up in the region providing many benefits from frequent flooding.

    TheNiche is also correct regarding the floodplain and the site in question. The biggest problem I can see on that site from first glance is access from the south with the existing railroad that is quite active.

  • Glad to hear there’s no connection between flooding and subsidence. I bet some of the people who used to live in that old Brownwood neighborhood would be interested in seeing that research, kjb.

  • Errol,

    Look at my statement. There’s no connection to subsidence and flooding in “our” region.

    Subsidence in our region is linked to ground water extraction which is being phased out.

    Some areas in low marshy areas such as south Louisiana, where I grew up, have subsidence due to settlement and natural compaction of newer sedimentary soils. Extensive leveeing of the the streams and rivers prevent the replenishment of the soil. In the Houston region, this settlement naturally does not occur until the groundwater was being extracted faster than it can be recharged. Subsidence is gradual and over a long period of time. The floodplain adjusts with the subsidence.

    Geomorphologist, geologist, and hydrologist with way more education and background than I can lecture hours on end on this topic.

  • 1. It will be over a decade before the spider web of agencies (detailed by kjb in an early post) BEGINS the process to dent the rapid rate rate of subsidence caused by groundwater pumping. You guys live in a pro-developer fantasy land.

    2. For the 2nd and last time, kjb, you misread my post as you continue to argue with…whom? Two DISTINCT problems, as I said: subsidence and flooding. I could care less, then, about your “rebuttal” in re “50 years….”. Please read. Don’t just type.

  • Thanks for clearing that up, kjb. I was under the mistaken notion that stormwater flowed downhill.

  • Udunno,

    You are really living up to your name. The conversion from groundwater to surface water is currently under way with extensive surface water supply lines already installed. Municipal utility districts are being switch over as we speak. Large water lines (48″-60″) have been installed from Lake Houston along parts of the North Beltway approaching SH 249. Lines extend up to Cypress Creek. Many MUD’s are tying into the lines which supply raw water which will be treated at the existing treatment plant in the MUDs.

    Schedules have been set and they are meeting them.


    Subsidence has occurred over large areas which prevent a bowl effect. Jersey Village has experienced the worst in the regions, but that wasn’t enough to trap water in the village. Benchmark measures have shown the some slowing in the rate of subsidence.

  • kjb,

    Oh, I see. The area is large, and Jersey Village is the lowest point. Let me just graph that non-bowl…Hey, you’re right! Maybe it’s an ash tray, or a vase, or a pool?
    On second thought, maybe you’re taking into account that extreme downhill slope from northwest Houston to the Gulf?

  • Errol,

    Have worked on several project in and around Jersey Village, it is definitely not at the bottom of any bowl shape. Aerial and on the ground topographic survey support this.

    I guess you’ll just say that all this is wrong too?

  • kjb-

    You’re wrong. “Schedules are being met.”

    That’s good enough for your ilk.

    You don’t understand the long-term impact of subsidence in our area, or how quickly it can be remedied.

    You don’t read other posts, except to trumpet your own agenda. Your “facts” are invariably subjective spins. You prove nothing.

    No matter what/who/whatever you cite, this thread definitively shows your ignorance about regional subsidence issues, whether you’re a Louisiana engineer or not.

    You are quite the typist, however.

  • “Haters hate.” Sound familiar?

  • Yes, I hope it floods too and everybody loses their home and suffers financial ruin. That oughtta prove my point: oil is bad and suburbs are worse!

  • From Charlie:
    “Tangyjoe. LMAO. He actually looks like a zombie chasing the guy in front of him but hillarious nonetheless.”
    Perhaps that zombie is Udunno. He’s not looking for brains though, he’s running from the floods and sinkholes.

  • LOL!


    HAHA! A natural substance from Mother Earth herself produced through natural process from ORGANIC materials is bad.

    Lack of logic of some people (and groups) is completely hilarious. I guess that’s what happens when you follow a herd.

  • kjb434,
    I tend not to like putting “” in my posts, but I guess I should have.

  • Well, that didn’t work so well either. Inside the quoted text should read ” /sarcasm “

  • I understood the sarcasm. I just had to throw that out there. I was thinking someone would bite at it and call me a shill for the Big Oil companies. I’m supposedly already a shill for developers, highway interests, sprawl, complete environmental destruction, etc.

  • Yeah, I’ve been called a lobbyist for TxDOT, employee of HCTRA, and employee of METRO all within about a week. Also called a right-wing nut job and a bleeding heart liberal.
    I didn’t think it’s possible to be all of these things at once.

  • haha,

    When emotion and ignorance is the center of of an argument, that’s the response you get.

  • I hoped to find useful information when I read the comments here. All I found were a bunch of idiots trying to show off. When someone argues with an idiot or crazy person, you will not be able to tell which is which.