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Spring Woods Village

Posted by Woodlands Traveler on April 24, 2011 in Spring Woods Village |

Spring Woods Village

Will Exxon Mobil move to The Woodlands?

In a word, “Yes”

Deep among the pine trees just south of The Woodlands bordering Spring Creek and slightly north of the proposed path of the 180-mile-long Grand Parkway, you may have noticed a large number of large trucks and earth moving equipment entering and exiting the I45 feeder. Over the past several months, a lot of trees have been removed from the area and while Exxon Mobil continues to say they are only evaluating the land, rumor has it that they plan to consolidate some 17,000 employees to (yet to be built) an estimated 3 million square feet office complex. The 359-Acre property could become home to some 24 office buildings, 4 enormous parking garages, and several additional buildings housing support, security and other resources.

The haven’t removed all of the trees leaving a few to stand guard around what could become the high-security North American headquarters of the largest oil company in the US. These views are from the southwest. The freeway running from the top to bottom of the above image is Interstate-45; the Hardy Toll Road branches off and heads south toward Downtown just opposite where Springwoods Village Parkway (yet to be built), will connect a new residential area and the Exxon Mobil campus to the freeway feeder road. The remaining 1,460 acres are planned to become an “Uptown Residential/Mixed Use” Springwoods Village development planned for the forested areas to the south and west of Exxon Mobil’s new campus.

Exxon Mobil - SpringWoods Village

Exxon Mobil Corp. began looking at relocating to a large parcel of land owned by the oil giant in as early as May 2009. A study of its U.S. real estate that could result in the company consolidating workers to a new campus in north Harris County, just south of The Woodlands. Architectural documents obtained by the Houston Chronicle outline an elaborate corporate campus, including 20 office buildings with 3 million square feet, a wellness center, laboratory and multiple parking garages. The documents don’t identify Exxon Mobil specifically, but survey maps outline a large parcel of land near Interstate 45 and the Hardy Toll Road owned by Exxon. In late January 2010, Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers said the company is considering the potential use of its land, although no decision on future office requirements will be made until after the study is completed. The study, which looks at maintaining Exxon Mobil’s current offices as well as consolidation alternatives, is estimated to be complete in late 2011.

Jeffers said he wasn’t in a position to comment on the veracity of the PDR documents, some of which are dated May 2009. Additionally, he would not discuss what the study means for employees at Exxon Mobil’s corporate headquarters in Irving or those working in the company’s Fairfax, Va., offices where the company has maintained a presence since the acquisition of Mobil Corp. in 2000.

A move by the biggest U.S. oil and Natural Gas Company to The Spring/Woodlands area could amount to big changes for Houston’s office market. Exxon Mobil has offices throughout the Houston area, with large concentrations of workers Downtown as well as in the Greenspoint area (Sam Houston Beltway and I45 North). Jack Drake, president of the Greenspoint District, said while his area could potentially lose a large tenant, its best office space is virtually full, “so a departure of a major tenant allows for the opportunity for expansion and for new companies.” A move such as this could also have a positive and significant impact on all real estate types including retail, office, residential and even industrial.

While it could be some time before Exxon Mobil reveals its plans, the nearly 2,000-acre tract west of I-45 and the Hardy Toll Road is being prepped for development; trees have been cleared, and temporary roads have been laid out. An improvement district approved by the Texas Legislature has been created to build and finance utilities and roads to serve the property west of I-45.

The Harris County Improvement District No. 18 was approved June 19th, 2009 and put into place the general provisions of the special district laws code. One of the PDR documents shows plans for additional development south of the likely Exxon Mobil site and north of the proposed Grand Parkway.

They include a town center, medical facility, commercial space, apartments and single-family homes. Susan Vreeland-Wendt, director of marketing for The Woodlands Development Co., said it’s hard to gauge the impact of a possible move by Exxon Mobil because so little is known. “The things we’re hoping for down the road is an increase in home sales in all price ranges, more excitement in the retail sector and commercial leasing. It impacts every phase of our business,” she said. Real Estate Agents in The Woodlands like Ray Larson of Remax The Woodlands and his team of professionals will be at the forefront of new home purchases in the area.

Coventry Development (New York) announced grand plans (10-2010) to establish a giant eco-friendly, mixed-use development modeled heavily on the ecological principles first demonstrated decades ago by The Woodlands Development Corp. It’s now a pine forest near the intersections of I-45 North, the Hardy Toll Road, and the projected path of the Grand Parkway, about 30 miles north of Downtown Houston.

Plans call for a 150-acrenature preserve along one section of the community’s northern reaches, which stretch to Spring Creek. South of that, and along the northern border of the Grand Parkway, the developers are planning a town center with the hallmarks of major mixed-use employment centers: office space and retail, a medical district, townhouses and apartments, and single-family homes and they’ve gone ahead and given the place a formula-tested suburban-housing name: Springwoods Village.

Springwoods Realty Company has owned most of this land since the 1960s. Why develop it now? Because it’s now pretty clear that the Grand Parkway will actually be built right at the property’s southern border, the developers say. Plus, there’s development on all sides now. The Springwoods property is centrally located within a short drive, bike ride or walk of many amenities including the Spring Creek Greenway, The Woodlands Community and Bush International Airport. Bordering the east side of the property, I-45 provides convenient access to The Woodlands Community and Downtown Houston while the planned Grand Parkway and an associated interchange that will be built on the southern edge of the property providing access to communities and destinations either east or west of the north Harris County community. Finally, Spring Creek creates nearly a mile long natural open space border that is slated to become part of Houston’s premier regional greenway system that will eventually provide access to 33 miles of trails, recreation and natural ecosystems for the Springwoods community residents. In October 2010, Houston Press Blogs found a few of the artist’s illustrations of the to-be-developed community to be rather creepy – Molly Smith, a spokesperson for the development reported that they “just renderings” and the official concept are posted online.

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