|By Nancy Sarnoff, Houston
ChronicleMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 19, 2012--The developer of The Woodlands is planning a large-scale lakeside project that over time could house more than 6,000 office workers, some 1,000 residents and high-end amenities like a boutique hotel, shops and restaurants.
It's the latest example of a flurry of development activity that's been taking place north of town.
The development, to be called Hughes Landing, is slated for 66 acres on the east shore of Lake Woodlands. The project's centerpiece would be a cluster of restaurants near a boardwalk and pier. The first phase, including an office building, hotel, 400 apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail space, could amount to $300 million worth of development.
"We envision on weekends there could be festivals, fun runs and all kinds of events," said Paul Layne, executive vice president of master-planned communities for the Howard Hughes Corp. The project is being developed by The Woodlands Development Co., a subsidiary of the Hughes Corp.
Other activity in the area includes single office buildings and big residential communities. The largest project to have started recently is a 385-acre corporate campus under development for Exxon Mobil Corp. just south of The Woodlands. The complex is expected to house 10,000 workers who will relocate from other parts of Houston and from out of state.
Anadarko is building a second office tower in The Woodlands, and smaller office developments have begun to take shape. Some are being built in anticipation of additional demand from companies that want to be near Exxon Mobil.
Residential communities are under way too. Springwoods Village, a project next to the Exxon Mobil campus, could have 5,000 homes when it's complete.
Developers of a smaller project of 58 home sites called ParkGate Reserve are building luxury homes adjacent to the front of The Woodlands.
Layne said Hughes Landing will continue a tradition in The Woodlands of creating a walkable environment with a combination of uses. About 750 apartments are planned around restaurants and shops. An entertainment component is envisioned, as is an upscale grocer.
The project is to include a major office component, with as many as eight buildings.
It will be built in phases and is expected to take several years to complete.
The Woodlands Development Co. will break ground this fall on the first office building, an eight-story structure with almost 200,000 square feet. The Gensler architecture firm created the energy-efficient design for the building, which should open in the fourth quarter of next year.
The Woodlands Development Co. said leasing activity at its newest office building demonstrates the area's strong demand for space. The property, 3 Waterway Square, is 90 percent leased and not scheduled to open until next summer.
To be sure, there's little top-of-the-line office space available to lease in The Woodlands.
The vacancy rate for the best buildings is less than 3 percent, according to Colliers International, which is leasing the Hughes Landing building and 3 Waterway Square.
(c)2012 the Houston Chronicle
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