Photo by Andrea Bolt
More projects planned as city sees gains in sales tax revenue
Although it has a population of only about 2,200 people, Shenandoah has established itself as a major player in the area’s commercial market while also experiencing strong real estate growth. In the coming year, the city will add four office complexes, at least two hotels, multiple restaurants and the new Eastwood Village and David Weekly real estate developments, with land to spare.
“Anytime you have good development going on, commercial or residential, it benefits the surrounding city and its residents,” Greg Smith, city administrator, said. “We’re very excited to have growth like this happening.” Planned development
According to the City of Shenandoah’s comprehensive plan, only 3 percent of the city’s land has been zoned for office space, making the incoming Vision Park office projects a significant boost to the city’s commercial development. The Vision Park development will consist of four medical and professional office buildings along Vision Park Boulevard, just west of I-45.
Granite Properties will construct Granite Vision Park, an eight-story, 200,000-square-foot office structure, complete with on-site deli, fitness center and parking garage.
Pine Forest Office Park will be located just south of Reliant Rehabilitation Hospital and will house several office condo buildings at 5,000-square feet each. The single-story condos will be leased out to individual buyers, Smith said.
Additionally, D’Agostino Companies and the Cypressbrook Company will develop office and medical buildings along Vision Park Boulevard.
Smith confirmed the building that now houses Los Cucos Mexican restaurant off of I-45 will be taken over by sports bar and grill Twin Peaks in the near future. More significant commercial developments and retail entities have been rumored to be coming to Shenandoah, but Smith was unable to confirm, citing a premature time frame.
“Until we get building permits and plans solidified and approved, we cannot confirm what will be going in,” Smith said.
However, he did emphasize that the new building projects will provide a benefit for the city, both professionally and commercially.
Reasons for growth
Shenandoah Finance Director Jennifer Calvert said the city’s “easy-on, easy-off” location in relation to I-45 and The Woodlands makes it ideal for growth opportunities.
“We’ve definitely had a huge boom in development lately,” Calvert said, pointing to October 2012 as a month that generated a large amount of tax revenue for the city.
Shenandoah’s sales tax stands at 8.25 percent, the norm for Montgomery County. What is atypical, however, is Shenandoah’s 6.9 percent increase in sales tax revenue through September.
According to the city, Shenandoah generated $4.2 million in sales tax revenue between October 2010 and September 2011. That amount increased to $4.5 million between October 2011 and September 2012, Calvert said.
“These are huge increases,” Calvert said. “It’s really been a very good year for us.”
She said major revenue generators for the city are Shenandoah’s Portofino Shopping Center, off of I-45, the city’s many hotels, as well as the retail corridor located along Research Forest Drive.
Shenandoah’s many restaurants have also proven to be a significant revenue generator for the city.
“Our restaurants are huge,” Calvert said, “They are packed every day, all day long.”
Eastwood Village, a new eight-acre development, will be located east of I-45 off of David Vetter Boulevard. The development will include a new restaurant and Home 2 Suites Hilton Hotel, Smith said.
Shenandoah’s wonderful community atmosphere and the many amenities offered in and around the city make it an ideal site for commercial developers, said South Montgomery County Woodlands Economic Development Partnership CEO Gil Staley.
“With the amenities there, plus the ones in The Woodlands being so close, they really work together,” he said. “It’s a win-win for developers.”
Staley said with the quick generation of office buildings, more companies will be attracted to the area.
“There will just be more to offer with the addition and options of offices there,” Staley said. “It’s exciting to see all the development going on there now.”
Both Staley and Cypressbrook Company Managing Director Mike Novelli said Shenandoah’s low property taxes make the city an ideal location for many kinds of development.
“I think they have relatively low taxes, a cooperative city staff and a good location, with back door access to Vision Park, The Woodlands and the freeway,” Novelli said.
He said the community’s healthy economy adds to the city’s ability to attract more companies, developers, employers and residents.
“I think a lot of people are drawn by the health of the energy sector and a lot of companies are relocating here in the near future, ExxonMobil being the most visible,” Novelli said. “Right now there’s a virtual cycle of cumulative growth happening.”
Both Calvert and Smith said the future looks bright for Shenandoah.
“Even in the last 90 to 120 days, half of our vacant land now has identified buyers,” Smith said.
He said the city still has land available north of Woodforest Stadium and the Conroe ISD Natatorium, as well as three to four tracts of land within city limits.
“All good development adds things to a city,” Smith said. “It adds jobs, taxable value, people—a lot of good.”
Calvert said one of the positives regarding Shenandoah’s growth is that builders and developers approach them, rather than the city seeking out interested parties. “Every time we turn around, there is somebody new knocking at the door,” she said.
Smith said the city’s popularity and growth should come as no surprise as it is something the City Council and city governing bodies have expected for some time.
“This is the growth Shenandoah started preparing for years ago,” Smith said. “We’ve envisioned big things here.”