The proposed Kingwood marina development is years from becoming a reality, if then, said Houston City Councilmember Dave Martin during the recent Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 10 meeting.
Martin said the project has had “much, much misinformation” said and written about it – with community members exacerbating the proposal and calling for an immediate stop to it.
“We scared them to death!” he exclaimed.
Martin said he called a meeting recently with the developers and laid it on the line.
“Really? You want to spend $2.5 billion in that area? In that river? In that lake?” he asked them.
Romerica Group, a Houston-based urban development firm, is developing the project; Italian company Torrisi & Procopio Architetti is behind the design.
Those in attendance at the meeting were Martin, Jessica Beemer, Martin’s chief of staff, Andy Icken from the City of Houston, Gabriel Haddad (Romerica Investments), Fabio Cavarrabias (Romerica Investments), Melvin Spinks (CivilTech Engineering), John Manlove (John Manlove Marketing), Gina Manlove (John Manlove Marketing), and Leah Howard (John Manlove Marketing).
The project is planned around the Barrington community, just south of the intersection of Kingwood and Woodland Hills drives and has received significant media attention after the urging of community members who spread the word, some false, that the project was ready to be built on protected wetlands in spite of deed restrictions and would bring a wealth of traffic, noise and unwanted activity to a quiet residential neighborhood.
Martin referred to it as the “infamous Heron project” and said there are facts, not rumors, he wants to be known.
The developers have applied for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers but the “404 Permit” is an arduous, complicated, difficult process, Martin said.
“We think they won’t even get a yes or no until the end of 2019,” Martin said. “The facts are that there has be no action since June of 2018. The dredging application has not been updated since 2017 and the area they have identified is not in the wetlands zone. All they have right now is an excavation permit pending.”
Martin went on to point out that any project must meet the restrictive covenants of Kingwood, which are far more stringent that those of the City of Houston. He told the group that there are FAA regulations involved as well.
“We scared them to death. My pushback to them was, ‘Why there?’ You can’t access it by boat since the water is not even a foot deep in most places. Sailboats can’t get past the Lake Houston bridge. It is so shallow that they will have to do constant dredging just to have any boat at all in their marina. And the impact of flooding in that area is vast and unknown,” he said.
“We’re on this! It is front and center with me,” Martin said, while adding that at this early point, it is not even a city-regulated issue. The permit is with the federal government – the Army Corps of Engineers – and that expires in June.
However, he said, anyone can buy that land and do whatever they want with it. It could be a lot worse than what folks are thinking right now.
“We want to be objective and work with developers and come up with the best solutions for everyone,” he said.