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?
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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.
- Exxon Mobil is considering a move [Houston Chronicle]
- Previously on Swamplot: Spawn of the Grand Parkway: Huge New Woodlands-Like Development, Just South of The Woodlands
Springwoods Village park renderings: Design Workshop