– Local leaders give their Lake Houston growth forecast –
Lake Houston is booming and Mark Mitchell has the statistics to prove it.
“There’s been a five-fold increase in population since the 1980 census and by 2023, we estimate the Lake Houston population will be 320,000,” Mitchell said. “That’s a significant number for an area that’s as small as Lake Houston.”
Mitchell had more statistics to report. At least 210,000 vehicles pass Deerbrook Mall in Humble every day. Already, some 85,000 vehicles pass Generation Park just off the beltway every day.
Mitchell, president of the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership, spoke of those statistics and more at the Lake Houston Chamber’s April 30 meeting on the State of the Lake Houston Area at Walden Country Club.
Also giving their thoughts on growth and opportunities in Lake Houston were Jason Stuebe, Humble city manager; Adam McAlpine, partner with McAlpine Interests who focuses primarily on Kingwood and Atascocita; and John Flournoy, vice president for sales and leasing for McCord Development, developer of Generation Park.
Flournoy was particularly excited about the new Ikea distribution center to be in Generation Park.
“You’ve seen the distribution centers in West Houston and Katy,” Flournoy said. “That’s what we’re getting, a great anchor. It’s 164 acres, a 1.3 million-square-foot center that will offer same-day fulfillment.”
The Ikea center and the extension of West Lake Houston Parkway, Flournoy said, has led another unannounced company to purchase a 21-acre site for their regional headquarters.
When Mitchell asked each panelist what is most promising for their area, Stuebe pointed to the Parc Air 59 development along Highway 59 and the “medical cluster” that has been developed in Humble.
“We realize that Humble can’t continue to focus on retail,” Stuebe said. “We must have life beyond retail and logistics. [Parc Air 59] is it. We’re looking at the diversification of our tax base and these high-quality developments.”
Flournoy cited Generation Park’s education focus as most promising.
“We’re part of training our future workforce,” he said. “Sheldon ISD had made a multimillion-dollar commitment to improve, San Jacinto is building a new campus on our property, and Lone Star College has a new training center as well. We’d love to have a four-year university there one day.”
Flournoy said his company also is focusing on developing a medical campus and has been in discussions with two systems.
“Within a 5-mile radius of Generation Park, the number of hospitals is zero,” he said.
McAlpine said “… getting the dredging done and expanding roads and infrastructure will get Kingwood back on its feet. Atascocita is very different. While Kingwood is built out, there’s lots of space to build, so much growth potential in Atascocita.”
When Mitchell asked what keeps them up at night, McAlpine said development in Atascocita has been tough because the high MUD taxes. Flournoy said he’s waiting for McCord’s many projects to come to fruition at Generation Park so they can see how the community reacts to and accepts the restaurants, luxury apartments, hotel and many amenities.
Stuebe listed three concerns that keep him up at night: Humble’s older housing, the strain from growth on the city’s infrastructure, and the reliance on Deerbrook Mall for tax revenue. Three subdivisions totaling 1,000 homes, however, are interested in Humble, the city is constantly upgrading its infrastructure, and the city is beginning to attract tax revenue that isn’t connected to retail.
During the presentation, Mitchell gave a shout-out to the Harris County Information Technology Department which crunched many of the statistics presented by Mitchell and the panelists. Prior to the panel discussion, Chamber President Sam Schrade asked attendees to vote by phone on their favorite reason they live in Lake Houston. Of those who voted, 54% like the people, 26% choose Lake Houston’s location, 12% said they like the area because of the schools and 8% selected businesses for their favorite part of Lake Houston.
The May monthly luncheon, State of the County, is set for Tuesday, May 28 at the Golf Clubs of Houston, 5860 Wilson Road. County officials will discuss plans, developments and initiatives affecting the Lake Houston area. Cost is $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
Register at lakehouston.org.