Exxonmobil began moving the first workers into its new campus south of The Woodlands last Friday, a source tells Swamplot. Among the first to make the trek to the former pine forest (pictured at left, with workers in formation, during construction last year) near the intersections of I-45, the Hardy Toll Road, and the latest segment of the Grand Parkway: employees of the ExxonMobil Development Company, who’ve been working in Greenspoint for more than a dozen years.
It’s Moving Month!
THE NEW BAKER HUGHES HEADQUARTERS NEAR THE NEW EXXONMOBIL CAMPUS “Sources” are telling reporter Catie Dixon that oilfield services company Baker Hughes is planning to build a new headquarters for itself far north of its current home (in the America Tower along Allen Pkwy.). A new 400,000-to-500,000-sq.-ft. building, she reports, appears to be under development on a piece of land “just south” of the site where Southwestern Energy has its new offices under construction hugging I-45 just north of the Grand Parkway. That’s just a bit southwest of the site of ExxonMobil’s new campus (where the first employees are moving in this month), as indicated in the older marked-up area plan shown here. Following Dixon’s description, the Baker Hughes tract would likely be the one marked “UC” (for “under contract”) just south of the SWN site in the plan. However, reps from Springwoods Village developers Coventry Development tell her that “Baker Hughes doesn’t have any property under contract in Springwoods Village, and declined to comment on any activity on the aforementioned tract.” [Real Estate Bisnow; previously on Swamplot] Map: Jones Lang LaSalle
THE WOODLANDS’ NO-FAULT DEFENSE The Woodlands Development Company is trying to hold the line in its legal battle against a growing number of homeowners claiming that repeated damage to their homes is the result of movement along 3 separate geological faults running through the community. According to reporter Cindy Horswell, the company is going further than simply claiming that the building and ground cracks and resulting new alignments in the properties must have been the result of something other than surface fault lines. A statement penned by developer spokesperson Susan Vreeland-Wendt appears to claim the fault lines do not exist: “We have done actual testing, and none of the testing that we’ve done to date has found any evidence of an active fault line in proximity to any Woodlands residence.” That contradicts the claims of the now 2-dozen families from the Carlton Woods, Alden Bridge, Cochran’s Crossing, and Sterling Ridge neighborhoods involved in or about to join the lawsuit, which was originally filed in March of this year, who say a 1993 letter proves the developer knew about the problem. “The plaintiffs’ attorneys say five different geologists have verified the existence of at least three fault lines — Big Barn, the longest and most active line that runs about 33 miles underground from a salt dome near Hockley to the flank of a salt formation near Conroe, as well as two smaller faults, Jones and Panther Branch. The San Jacinto River Authority’s geological report also recently pinpointed these same surface faults when working on plans to install a new 52-inch pipe to bring water into The Woodlands. To protect from the shifting soils, a special flexible pipe will be used wherever the pipe crosses a fault zone. ‘They do exist, and they are active,’ said Mark Smith, division manager over the water authority’s water project.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Fault-line map: KHOU
NEXT ALEXAN COMPLEX GOING UP ON LAKE-LOOKING SITE IN SPRING Most of the Alexan-brand apartment complexes that Trammell Crow is building haven’t strayed too far from I-10 — with ones planned for the Heights, Energy Corridor, and Wilchester — but a new one is being built much farther north on I-45 in Spring. Partnering with Prime Property Investors out of Illinois, Trammell Crow has started construction this week on the 346-unit Alexan at Auburn Lakes at W. Rayford and Gosling. And what comes with this new territory? Residents, reports Nancy Sarnoff, will have access to a “private lake” among other attractive amenities — a dog park, business center, shared kitchen, billiards room — and shell out an average rent for the 1- and 2-bedroom units of $1,199 a month. [Prime Property; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Prime Property Investors
Here are some new renderings of the spaces between the buildings on the ExxonMobil campus under construction in Springwoods Village. The Houston Business Journal’s Shaina Zucker reports that the 20 or so office buildings that will constitute the 385-acre campus will be organized around “a central three-acre commons” much like the one, designed by Houston firm PDR, shown here. The commons, explains Zucker, is “modeled after great public squares found in Europe and the U.S.”
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Plans for what is to come to the master-planned, eco-minded Springwoods Village were revealed yesterday; this rendering shows the Town Center, to be located in this 1,800-acre development near the Grand Pkwy. and I-45, just a few miles south of the new ExxonMobil campus. What’s gonna be here? At first, anyway? 250 apartments — with ground-floor retail; 100,000 sq. ft. of other retail; a hotel; office space (including the brand-new Southwestern Energy HQ); stranded kayakers; and a bunch of hiking trails that encircle the Town Lake.
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Here it is, the new corporate headquarters that Southwestern Energy is building for itself in Springwoods Village, just south of the new corporate headquarters that ExxonMobil is building for itself. Construction, reports Fuel Fix, began this week. Speculation about the building began in April, though, when a film-noir-ish black-and-white version of this rendering was leaked via HAIF. It appears that the only difference — you know, besides the Oz-like transformation to the realism of color — is the addition of Southwestern Energy signage, including that little formulaic icon to the left. The 10-story building and 7-story garage, where the company will consolidate about 1,000 Houston employees, will occupy 25.6 acres alongside I-45 and should be ready to go in 2014.
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A poster on HAIF has leaked this rendering that might show what Southwestern Energy is planning to build to consolidate its employees in Springwoods Village. It was first reported to be a 10-story office building on 22 acres at I-45 and the future Grand Pkwy., just south of the ExxonMobil campus.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: HEADING FOR POINTS GREENER “Unless I’m missing something, the whole thing seems like an egregious example of waste. You build Greenspoint 30 years ago and then for various reasons it’s no longer ideal, so do you improve it? Revamp it? No, you abandon it all and clear a new forest ten miles north for your new office park. And all the smaller companies that clustered around you there do likewise. And Greenspoint with its hundreds of acres of concrete just sits there like damaged goods.
So what happens in thirty years when Springwoods Village is no longer ideal, when the new wears off? Do you improve it and make it work, or do you jump another ten miles north where there’s another waiting forest and build your new campus there?
The irony is that I’m sure these buildings will be LEED-whatever certified and Exxon will tout itself as a great steward, but any environmentalist will tell you that the real way to conserve is to adapt & reuse, not just wantonly abandon & throw away.” [Mike, commenting on The Next Springwoods Village Rumor]
SOUTHWESTERN ENERGY DEFINITELY MOVING INTO EXXONMOBIL’S ORBIT A report today confirms what a reader told Swamplot yesterday — that Southwestern Energy plans to build a 10-story office building in Springwoods Village, the new eco-themed community being carved out of a forested area just south of the new ExxonMobil corporate campus at the intersection of I-45 North and the future Grand Parkway. An additional lot for expansion is being preserved on an adjacent site. Reporter Emily Wilkinson guesses that Southwestern could be the mystery company that bought up 22 acres of Springwoods Village last year. [Houston Business Journal] Map: Springwoods Village
THE NEXT SPRINGWOODS VILLAGE RUMOR “Just got off the phone with a Southwestern Energy employee and they announced they are building a new building. The building will be located on 45 near the Exxon Mobil campus. I remember a previous article stating something about there being more office buildings built in the Springwoods development. This is where I surmise it will be. It will be 10-stories high with room for expansion on an adjacent site. Completion date is set for 2014.” [Swamplot inbox] Map: Springwoods Village
A LITTLE ELECTION DAY MUD-SLINGING IN SPRING A $58 million bond measure to reimburse developer DR Horton for utility and road construction on 400 soon-to-be-developed acres just south of The Woodlands and east of Gosling Rd. is expected to pass in today’s election by a mere 2 votes. The couple expected to account for the winning margin just moved into the area in a trailer they’ve parked in a clearing. And, yeah, they’ll be the only people allowed to vote on the measure. Does this sound like a strange picture in an elective democracy? It’s the normal course of events for establishing municipal utility districts on empty land. 659 MUDs are currently active in the Houston area; since 2009, 88 new ones have been established statewide. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of Willow and Spring Creeks: Northampton MUD
COMMENT OF THE DAY: SPRINGWOODS VILLAGE WAS A LONG TIME COMING “So Exxon’s development of Kingwood lacked the office space and subsequent development of Greenspoint lacked the neighborhood? Finally combining the two?
Houston: Stamped out by Exxon, one experiment at a time.” [iMidget, commenting on Comment of the Day: Big Oil Town]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: BIG OIL TOWN Has anyone dubbed ‘Exxonville’ for Springwoods Village yet? If not, I want to take credit . . . Sounds like Utopia . . . I hope Oil and Gas continues to be strong in the near future . . . policy in current and future government administrations can play a big part in that. On that note, I would be hesitant to move in to a community that has the potential for government to have such a large and direct influence on. Imagine massive layoffs due to changes in policy . . . Not saying that all households will be linked to ExxonMobil . . . but I am sure it will be packaged to be the ideal choice to work at the new campus . . .” [J.R., commenting on Headlines: Christian Louboutin Boutique for Houston; Illegal Dumpers Caught on Camera]