Spawn of the Grand Parkway: Huge New Woodlands-Like Development, Just South of The Woodlands

A New York land development firm called Coventry Development has just announced grand plans to establish a giant eco-friendly, mixed-use development modeled heavily on the ecological principles first demonstrated decades ago by The Woodlands — on an 1,800-acre site just south of that community. It’s now a pine forest near the intersections of I-45 North, the Hardy Toll Road, and the projected path of the Grand Parkway, about 30 miles north of Downtown Houston. Some portions of that forest will remain: Plans call for a 150-acre nature preserve along one section of the community’s northern reaches, which stretch to Spring Creek. South of that, and along the northern border of the Grand Parkway, the developers are planning a town center with the hallmarks of major mixed-use employment centers: office space and retail, a medical district, townhouses and apartments, and single-family homes. But they’ve gone ahead and given the place a formula-tested suburban-housing name: Springwoods Village.

Springwoods Realty Company has owned most of this land since the 1960s. Why develop it now? Because it’s now pretty clear that the Grand Parkway will actually be built right at the property’s southern border, the developers say. Plus, there’s development on all sides now.

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The densest development is planned for the community’s I-45 border. Uses will get more residential and rural as you move west. Here’s a view of the approach from The Woodlands:

The nature preserve will be directly north, extending to Spring Creek. But what’s planned for the other sections of that forest?

A diagram of the “low impact” development plan: a gradient running from Spring Creek at the north to the planned Grand Parkway on the South, with the densest sections located furthest from the waterways, buffered by trees.

Among the cool ecological features: An overall street alignment designed to encourage and channel summertime breezes, which come from the southeast.

Coventry says it plans to begin infrastructure work — and start selling off parcels — next year. And then, after a couple of decades: 4,500 to 5,000 homes, 8.5 million sq. ft. of office space, and 1.2 million sq. ft. of retail.

58 Comment

  • Looks like the city of Houston has known about it quite some time as it was in their Planning Commission agenda in April and May.

    http://media.swagit.com/agendas/05132010-34.pdf

  • What city and/or ETJ does this come under?

  • Wonderful more clear cutting of Spring’s pine forests, just what they need. Rather sad to see the area I grew up being clear cut for more add water and stir development. Well hey we preserve at least 2-3 trees per lot, is pretty pathetic to me..

  • Great new addition to the north. Don’t think the market is ready for it, but more developers are clamoring to move there projects forward that have kept them on hold for the last two years.

  • firehat,

    The development is in the unincorporated areas of Harris County, but falls under the ETJ of the city of Houston. This means the planning commission has to approve all plats and variances.

    The addresses will likely be Spring.

  • Corey, years ago this was considered far north.

    There are plenty of trees north of Conroe.

    Also, they are preserving a good number of trees it sounds like as well. Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world.

  • To add to Jessie M’s comment, the area along Spring Creek will be part of the Spring Creek greenway that Harris County Precinct 4 and Montgomery County have been working on with developers.

    Also, clear cutting trees and building suburban homes is just continuing a tradition that the “historical” Heights did when it was being built. LOL

  • It isn’t that far north, sorry. And I doubt it will anywhere near as controlled with the deforestation as say in the woodlands. I grew up just east of Old Town Spring, and spent my teen years in Klein, this area was once very pristine and nice, now it’s strip centers, clear cut neighborhoods, and anything and everything utterly generic beyond that. Precisely why I’m not living there anymore, and sorry Spring ISD is not all that, in fact it’s pretty bad (Westfield I’m looking at you). I taught in both of those school districts, formerly. Klein is a much better district IMHO. Yes progress has it’s price, but I think it’s more overkill than anything else, but they’ll find that out the hard way and likely soon.

  • @kjb434 “Don’t think the market is ready for it….”
    Maybe not, but isn’t the new Exxon HQ/Campus going to be just across the road?

  • Good point, and also don’t forget about Walt Disney’s venture in the swamps off the proposed Grand Parkway in Montgomery County……

  • Corey, MOVE. You will never be happy in this town. 150 ac nature preserve, and you’re upset about cutting trees down. Get over it.

  • I think Exxon will be just north of this development. Or, it could be a part of it. Maybe those office buildings laid out that run along the freeway.

    Also kjb, I assume you’re talking about Earthquest? It sure makes the north look a little more desirable for them.

  • I thought this was a Houston RE blog. This is f’in South Dallas. Gross.

  • Well, “Earthquest” which is part of the expanding Disney empire was involved in finalizing the alignment.

  • The nature preserve will be directly north, extending to Spring Creek. But what’s planned for the other sections of that forest?

    —————-

    XOM

  • The rec center in Lexington Woods is 132 acres, and it’s a community park with a pool, tennis courts, and a baseball field. Hardly anything exciting and is rather small for a community consisting of 2 neighborhoods. Sure you can rape the land for a profit, while you’re at it sell your mother since nothing is sacred short of your almighty dollar. Short sighted much? God forbid someone speak up for what little is left of their home town, and if you want to take it personally SO BE IT ASS.

  • SFP:

    There are so many NIMBY’s on these threads that do nothing but complain about new development and prosperity. Whether they live there, lived there, or stopped by once to grab a Latte, they think that every piece of land is theirs to speak out about and should stay as pristine as when it was first created.

  • Rape and pillage, pillage and rape.

    Get a new line of attack Corey. Your reason against this would mean any urban area cannot exist. Or some magical group of a know-it-alls should determine what limit urban development should go to? Anything beyond a certain limit will now start to hurt the environment, but things close in are fine?

  • I can’t imagine what the traffic on 45 is going to be like once this is complete.

  • Sorry suburban sprawl is ugly and unecessary, and yes 45 is already a parking lot. I’m entitled to my opinions; and have no means of attack, as it’s wholly unnecessary. No I’d just like to see some nature left alone, and of course it’s rather natural for people who enjoyed the land, rode their bikes, built forts, did all manner of stupid things in those woods to speak up and say, hey enough is enough. Go build in Katy where it’s all lousy scrub land, or South of Houston where it’s more of the same. The trees are what brought us to Spring, and by comparison even to 20 years ago the devestation of the land has been extremely severe. Ask the last Family Owned Farmer on 1960 who had to sell out to WalMart for reference on that. Property taxes killed his family farm of over 120 years. Think I’m dead set on being a Nimby well guess you didn’t bother to read the fact I’m in full support of WalMart in the Heights after reevaluting my take on that, so it’s not as though I lack logic, or the ability to think past myself, but honestly I’d rather see them leave what little is left of Spring alone. I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment either.

  • If life was just about doing what’s necessary, not even “sustainable” development would qualify for that.

    But honestly, as big as cities will get, undeveloped land in this world will ALWAYS be exponentially outnumbered to that of developed land.

    There are plenty of trees to the north.

    I’m just sayin…but it’s fine for all of us to have an opinion.

  • Corey, that’s where you are illogical. It’s your opinion that the forests in Spring is prettier or better than the “scrub” covered Katy Prairie or Brazoria County. There are lot of concerned people that formed the Katy Prairie Conservancy and other groups to protect that “scrub” covered land. There are lot of naturalist, birders, etc. that love far west Houston, Brazoria and other coastal Counties that would have the same argument that their place is better so it shouldn’t be developed.

    Some would considered the dense thicket of pine trees as a big fire hazard and just plain icky and would prefer a manicured park.

    Also, your cause of saving the wooded areas is in full swing with the Woodlands and Harris County Precinct 4 assembling a greenbelt along Spring Creek. Other developers and the southern Precinct of Montgomery County have joined in also.

  • Greenbelt is a great idea, and again as per normal you definitely have some valid points too. Personal preferences aside.

  • The greenbelt is not an idea. It already exist and continues to grow as more tracts are being acquired.

    http://www.hcp4.net/parks/index.htm

    Click on Spring Creek and Cypress Creek Greeways on the right.

    The PDF shows the existing Spring Creek Greenway and the proposed Cypress Creek Greenway. Several MUDs, developers, and community groups are assisting the Precinct in developing the Cypress Creek Greenway.
    http://www.hcp4.net/parks/ccgw/images/CypressCreekGWMap0706.pdf

  • Color me educated, thank you. No disrepect implied or intended.

  • Can you fix the typo por favor?

  • I’m going to actively boycott anything advertised as sustainable from now on. I like trees but I’d rather live in an asphalt parking lot then with the people who want everything to be “sustainable”.

  • Looks like a good development. Only thing I can say is that I wish something like this would get built closer in, in an area just outside downtown that needs help (like the northside near the proposed Intermodal Transit Center). Don’t really get the “mass transit” aspect of this, maybe future commuter rail?

  • When did Swamplot posters become schills for developers? Other than Corey, everyone on here is overjoyed for another generic “town center” type of development with cheaply built spec homes, a faux downtown, and a paltry “nature preserve” that is probably nothing more than land that can’t be built upon due to the flood plain. Yippee, more sprawl. Yippee, more development that will entice people to move out into incorporated areas. Yippee, more clear cutting of the pine forests. Yippee, Yippee, Yippee. Not all growth is good.

  • @Doofus,

    I agree with you. I just try to put a positive spin on things, so even though I don’t really care for this development, I’m sure it will be good for some people. The one think I don’t hold back true feelings on is the sorry public transit situation here in Houston. That I cannot stand.

  • Amen to you both for having enough common sense to say, just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. And yes, it’s me only at home, and ALSO WHOLLY AGREE about mass transit. This site is heavily trolled by developers, and those who are highly motivated by development (basically in their back pocket). Sometimes it’s justified, Wally world in the heights, and sometimes it’s just crazy speculation by people who have obviously never spent a moment of their time in what used to be a very nice wooded part of Texas, then we have the worst the greed monger trolls who wouldn’t give a toss doing anything they can to make a buck. They’re a dime a dozen, and I firmly believe are a large part of what is wrong with this country as a whole.

  • Greed manifests itself in a variety of different ways; I’d argue that the environmental aestheticist who would argue for a forcible restriction on the developability of a vacant property is at least as greedy as the developer that might turn it into a neighborhood.

  • Yet another reason why developers should be footing the bill for the Grand Parkway. Corporate Welfare reigns in Texas.

  • corey said:
    Ask the last Family Owned Farmer on 1960 who had to sell out to WalMart for reference on that. Property taxes killed his family farm of over 120 years.
    ——————————–
    I’m calling BS on that. Taxes on ag land are minimal. If the farmer was farming, his taxes would have been very low. I’ve seen properties valued at 200,000 dollars that after ag exemption were valued at 10,000 dollars.

  • Try running a farm at FM1960 and falling creek right outside of Old Oaks. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Across the street from the previous and much smaller Wal Mart. Check your facts.

  • Actually Corey, all it would’ve taken to preserve the ag exemption is about a half dozen head of cattle. Or hay production. And yes, that can be achieved along 1960. I don’t know why anybody would WANT to bother with that when you can sell out to Wal-Mart…but if the farmer was complaining because he got a butt-load of cash. …well, that’s a good problem to have.

  • I’m trying to understand how this can be called “eco-friendly.”

  • Wow.

    I can see exactly where Corey is coming from.

    A lot of you people just don’t get it.

  • Corey,

    So YOU are the one responsible for those forts in Klein.

  • From markd:
    Wow.

    I can see exactly where Corey is coming from.

    A lot of you people just don’t get it.
    —————-
    You say that as though it’s a bad thing.

  • Yeah sorry about those forts, somehow I doubt they’re still there I graduated from Klein in 1994. :)

  • 4-5 k homes?
    8.5 million sq of office, plus the retail?

    Does anyone else roll their eyes at this?

  • What if they kept the perimiter filled with trees like The Woodlands does? Would that be better? I’m sure they will to a certain extent.

    It’s not like ANYONE ever went into those woods. So what is there to miss but the visualization?

  • If you want a more realistic idea of what might actually be physically realistic, just count single-family lots, eyeball acreages allocated for multifamily residential (incl. the town center) and multiply by…oh, let’s say 40. That’s more or less the capacity of the residential component.

    Where office space is concerned, just bear in mind that The Woodlands has only about 4.9 million square feet of office space after about 30-something years of development, then glance at the land plan and put two and two together. XOM buy-in is not discussed, but it strikes me as a wholly necessary assumption if these projections are to be taken seriously.

  • Pie in the sky figures? I wouldn’t care to speculate…

  • Corey said
    Try running a farm at FM1960 and falling creek right outside of Old Oaks. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Across the street from the previous and much smaller Wal Mart. Check your facts.
    —————————
    You said the farmer gave up due to high taxes. Now you say he gave up because farming was hard when all them evil city slickers moved to the area. Which is it? Should we really expect farmers to get special priority for preservation? Most farmers would have been ecstatic to get huge prices for their land.

  • “Most farmers would have been ecstatic to get huge prices for their land.”

    I think most farmers would be happier to keep their land and be farmers.

  • Well what if the farmer sold his smaller tract of land at a crazy high price to Wal-Mart, then turned around and purchased an equally expensive but vastly larger tract in a location more economically suitable for agriculture, using a 1031 Exchange to defer any impact to their federal income taxes from their windfall profit, and using various other programs to scale up his operation in such a way as would make his operation more profitable?

  • Ross and TheNiche,

    You’ve mentioned that evil word “profit”! Corey and Markd don’t understand how a simple farmer might be motivated by profit.

  • Yay! Let’s start the day with a strawman! Look, nobody is arguing that profit is bad or that free markets aren’t good, just that economic transactions is a somewhat free market (the “free market” being an illusion like the perfect universe used to demonstrate concepts of physics) is not the sole measure of value in the universe. I know this is heresy for those who look at practical issues and apply tests of ideological purity, rather than actual outcomes, to possible solutions.

  • John, my comment was meant as sarcasm when people present the logical argument that the farmers didn’t suffer when suburbia and commercial development came into their area. No farmer paid high taxes on their land. Texas takes care of farmers with generous exemptions on property taxes which especially help when real estate climbs from expanding development. The farmers taxes are kept low so they can stay on their land or sell for a high price. They are forced out by any means.

  • kjb, as usual, you miss the point.

  • I understand the concept that people value things other than money. That’s might point about how Texas is generous to it’s farmers. It allows them to keep farming on their land if they want even when the value the land skyrockets. The farmer can choose. Most seem to have taken the money.

  • “…how Texas is generous to it’s farmers.”

    Hahaha! yea KJB, go tell that to all the farmers who are about to get ate up by the Trans Texas Corridor.

    Must be nice to live in a world where you only see what you want to see.

  • markd,

    The proper use of eminent domain for transportation projects is bad?

    The TTC concept is dead. The criticisms were overblown with irrational argument like they will have a 1000-ft wide ROW cutting across the state. The TTC style projects currently underway (SH 130) maintains a ROW no different than any other standard expressway of 400-ft. The next expressway to follow the same guidelines will be I-69 which is under directives from the USDOT and Texas is charged with eventually building it’s portions which will now use as much existing road alignments as possible.

  • Proper use of eminent domain? Puh-lease.

    And TTC is not dead, they just change the name and wait a couple years. kjb, I guess you would drink the kool-aid, since your livelihood apparently depends on it.

  • The proposed roadways are not dead, but the grand concept of a corridor to re-align rail and utilities along with truck and regular vehicular transportation has withered away.

    The TTC 69 route was planned long before TxDOT conceived the concept of the TTC since it’s part of a federal corridor to connect Ontario to Mexico. Eminent domain to take property would have happened regardless.

    The high priority TTC project is already almost complete under the SH 130 toll road project as a relief for I-35. The sliver of real estate for that project didn’t destroy farming through central. It’s nice to get past the hype and look as what is really planned and what is really happening.

  • From markd:
    “…how Texas is generous to it’s farmers.”

    Hahaha! yea KJB, go tell that to all the farmers who are about to get ate up by the Trans Texas Corridor.

    Must be nice to live in a world where you only see what you want to see.
    ———-
    Road subsidies for rural areas help most (but obviously not all) farmers. Agriculture was and is the justification for Texas’ extensive and very well-maintained network of Farm-to-Market roads, after all, which has been a vastly more intrusive and expensive and project than SH 130 or I-69 has been or will ever be.