A First Look at the Plans for ExxonMobil’s Humongous New Corporate Campus North of Houston

So far, ExxonMobil hasn’t revealed any specific information about the new 389-acre North American headquarters just south of The Woodlands it’s apparently already begun sitework on. According to reports, all contractors working on plans for the enormous campus have been ordered to keep their work on the project secret. The new campus is meant to bring together somewhere between 15,000 and 17,000 employees now working in various locations around the Houston area and in Virginia. But documents submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers provide some detail on the plans for an enormous office park near the Harris County-Montgomery County border. The site is bounded by Spring Creek to the north, I-45 to the east, and the proposed 1,800-acre mixed-use development called Springwoods Village to the west and south. The plans were submitted by Palmetto Transoceanic, a mysterious entity that has been viewed as a proxy for the oil company in this area.


The plans, prepared by environmental consultants for the project, show the outlines of more than 2 dozen Z-shaped buildings and 4 giant parking garages arrayed in four quadrants within the outline of a large ring road. The plans were submitted to the Corps as part of a request for approval to fill 4,888 linear feet of waterways on the site that currently drain into Spring Creek and mitigate impacts on less than acre of wetlands. (According to the public notice posted by the Corps in January, the organization’s “preliminary review” indicates that no environmental impact statement will be necessary for the project.)

The boundaries of the campus mesh perfectly with an area left empty in the announced plans for Springwoods Village, marked here with a big red question mark. According to both sets of plans, the developments will be separated by 2 new roads — one called Springwoods Village Parkway, connecting to I-45, and the other called Holzworth Road, which would separate the new campus from the proposed 150-acre Springwoods Nature Preserve to the west. A segment of the Grand Parkway is planned to intersect with I-45 directly south of Springwoods Village.

In January, the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff reported seeing architectural plans for the campus, which she said included “20 office buildings with 3 million square feet, a wellness center, laboratory and multiple parking garages.” But those plans have not been published. The plans submitted to the Corps, divided into quadrants, focus more on the locations of headwaters and wetlands:

A Swamplot reader who lives in a development directly across I-45 from the site notes that “a major logging effort” appears to be taking place across the freeway, with “dump trucks galore” going in and out.

Are you an area resident or interested party interested in submitting comments on the plans submitted to the Corps? Sorry, you’re too late — the comment period closed on February 17th, after a month of “public notice.” The project is also subject to approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. But if you’re waiting for that organization to post information about its public comment period, don’t hold your breath; according to the Corps’s public notice, the same period served as public comment period for the TCEQ too.

33 Comment

  • They would be wise to pave Spring Creek, much like our bayous, and be done with it.

  • They should move their corporate headquarters from Dallas to Houston (I mean, seriously, Dallas?). That would make up for the departures of Enron, Continental, Halliburton, and Frontier in the last decade.

  • sucks for them, hope the employees don’t mind having to move to the woodlands

  • Howzabout they start paying taxes?

  • @hdtex, what do you mean by “start paying taxes”?

  • Great. Another reason for even more traffic off 45

  • I am really curious about what entities this thing resides in. I assume it’s outside any city limits, but what about the local MUD and ESD? Where are they getting their water, fire protection, and ambulance service?

  • I heard yesterday that there’s always police cars at the entrance of Springwoods Village Parkway and 45 and then I saw for myself temporary light poles going down the side of the entrance at the same place.

  • Exxon has sufficiently resurrected the 1980s suburban mall layout. Congratulations. Now, when they decide to move even farther from the educational core of their hometown (read: Willis HQ 2025), they can create “Spring Creek Mall” and populate the landscape with a sampling of deep-discounted soft goods clothing, closeout electronics, and heavily salted/large portion family dining.

    Everybody wins here.

  • This will open a lot of office space in Greenspoint, where Exxon already has a large office.

  • This is the worst kept secret in the local real estate business – word is that Gilbane Construction is running the project w/ Exxon

  • I hope there really was advertised public notice and not just “….on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

  • Ross….have you heard of this thing called “Google”????
    Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas.

  • that’s standard for any major business with international reaches. that’s why the corporate tax rates are always a joke when the politics say they’re so high. only high for small businesses.

  • @hdtex I bet you’re one of those persons that lists Wikipedia as a source in a thesis. The internet is not the say all be all of information.

    ExxonMobil does pay taxes to Uncle Sam, in fact, they overpaid taxes in 2009. Not just big oil is smart about minimizing their tax burden, everyone does it. It’s kind of like people popping out more kids to get more tax breaks.

    The US is wanting to change the tax code for oil companies only. They would love to tax “big oil” twice on earnings made in other countries. Here’s an example you may be able to grasp: Say you (big oil in this example) are relocated to Europe to work for a few years, the money you make there is going to be taxed by whatever European country in which you now work and reside, and now Uncle Sam is going to tax you on that same money on which you just paid taxes to Europe. Kinda stinks. But hey, you’re making a lot of money so share the love.

  • ITT: Someone who has absolutely no idea about the oil industry trying to teach the rest of us about the oil industry.

    Where were you living in 2008-2009? If it was somewhere other than the Amazon Rainforest, you must have noticed that oil prices crashed. Oil started out at $33/bbl, and was below $60/bbl for half the year. While not low by historical standards, oil companies – especially the large ones – had a workforce based on $75+/bbl oil and major projects already underway based on VERY high costs of construction.

    I don’t remember ExxonMobil having mass layoffs, do you? Would you have preferred this outcome so that ExxonMobil would make more profit domestically so that they could pay more in taxes?
    Natural gas averaged around $4/MMBtu in 2009. For those who are unfamiliar with the industry (…ahem), this is low.

    The result of all of this? Well, combine the prices with high labor costs in the U.S. compared to internationally and old (mostly depleted) oil fields in the U.S., and the large costs associated with keeping an ExxonMobil (or Chevron or Conoco Philips) just operating day to day, and it led to losses, not profits.

  • So, ExxonMobil overpaid their taxes in 2008, and oh yeah, the author of the article that started it all admitted he made mistakes the next week

    Other articles parroted was said in that Forbes article, including such balanced and neutral sources as http://www.treehugger.com, climateprogress.org, and Mother Jones.
    It has nothing to do with offshore accounts, and the idea that ExxonMobil doesn’t pay taxes is preposterous.

  • Frankly, I’d rather hear about the real estate aspects of this project since this is a real estate blog. Out of curiosity:

    -What will the interchange look like between Grand Parkway, Hardy Toll Road, and I-45?

    -Will Exxon get its own flyover freeway exit ramp (like at Woodlands Parkway)? If so, will there be noise studies? If not, how will they handle that Charlie Foxtrot of traffic every day?

    -Will they seamlessly tie in their project to the Spring Creek Greenway? Or will they make their side of the creek completely private access? Will they connect to the trails so that some of their employees can bike to work?

    I think if they build it so their employees can relax by the creek and bike to work, they might be able to shed their reputation as slave drivers.

  • It needed to be built in teh Humble area.

  • Oil industry workers are verrrry trustworthy and never, ever exhibit signs of extreme cognitive dissonance, no siree. We should take them at their word, always — especially when billions of dollars are at stake.

    This new HQ will be really hideous.

  • Non-oil-industry workers (if they work) are extremely knowledgable and never, ever shoot their mouths off to advance an ill-informed political perspective. Oh, no. That would never happen.


  • anon22,
    How does “trustworthiness” enter into this in the first place?

    Since when did this company have to keep its promise to you or … wait, wait, wait, even owe you any kind of promise at all?

  • Yep, there it is, again…

    Sounds like somebody’s had his mind made up!

  • anon22,
    About what?


    Tax talk this close to 4/15, blech!

    Besides, since facets of this has been so secretive, Swamplot needs to break through the opacity!

  • you might ask one of your friends at the world’s largest architecture firm . . . hmmm with the top secret area

  • Keep up the interesting news on the ExxonMobil property. I work for XOM and they’re telling us NOTHING!

  • And why didn’t they do this 40+ years ago when Exxon’s Friendswood Development Corporation created Kingwood?

  • XOM,

    1994 the little red roofed bldg. near Hardy Toll Rd. and I-45 was underwater. Hope the drainage issue has been resolved, yet we have not had a long hard rain since then. A word to the wise XOM employees: Park on the top level of the parking garage and keep a kayak near by!

    Thanks for the fuel!

  • A few questions and comments.

    1. Does anyone know if this is the former site of Ashe Lake? I remember swimming there as a child.

    2. Why The Woodlands? If any place it should have been near Humble. What a completely unimaginative and boring choice.

    3. Does anyone have any opinions on the fate of the old “Humble Building” downtown? I am worried it’s going to sit there vacant for the next 10 years, just what downtown Houston needs.

  • @darogr, XOM has said that they looked for large pieces of undeveloped property, and found this location. Presumably, they also looked at the addresses of employees in the area, and tried to ensure the chosen location was not awful for the majority of employees.

    Why would Humble be better? That was the starting place for a portion of the company, but remember, the former name was Standard of New Jersey, not Texas.

    The ExxonMobil building downtown is one of the top 5 largest buildings in town. Someone will want it.

  • @Ross I think if anything ExxonMobil surveyed their top executives who already lived in The Woodlands or were happy to move there.

    I hope you are right about the downtown building, but with the amount of empty office space downtown I don’t see corporations rushing to lease space in a circa 1960’s building.

    I still feel it was just a boring choice for a new location. Just Meh.

    Oh well it’s a done deal so good luck to them with it.

  • i live right behind this off spring stubner , wonder if my property value will go up . Also how much the taxes are going to raise.