Rendering courtesy Woodlands Dev
The first Hughes Landing tenants began moving in to their new offices in One Hughes Landing in early September, but the office building is only the first of many projects on the horizon. With residential, retail and dining projects planned in the near future, demand for space is strong for the 66-acre mixed-use development.
Plans for Hughes Landing include 1.5 million to 2 million square feet of office space, 800–1,000 apartment units, 175,000–200,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet for a hotel and a fitness center to serve workers, said Alex Sutton, co-president of The Woodlands Development Company.
Within two years, much of Hughes Landing—located on the east side of Lake Woodlands between Grogan’s Mill Road and Lake Woodlands Drive—could be completed, including a grocery store, parking garage, restaurants and luxury apartments, he said. Sutton said the entirety of the development, including as many as 11 office buildings, could take five to 10 years to complete, depending on demand.
“There’s a lot of buzz in the market that Hughes Landing has created,” Sutton said. “There’s a strong interest in it, and we’re very pleased at the pace that it’s going.”
Retail and residential
Development has always been planned for the tract of land—on the east side of Lake Woodlands between Grogan’s Mill Road and Lake Woodlands Drive—but the development company debated how much space should be allocated for residential and commercial development, Sutton said.
The development company finalized plans a little more than a year ago, Sutton said, and construction began on One Hughes Landing—the first office building—about 10 months ago. “You look at the [Hughes Landing] area and you see developments all around it,” Sutton said. “This is a place where the time has come.”
Although most of the early construction has focused on commercial development, other areas could break ground in 2013. Sutton said construction should break ground by the fourth quarter of this year for a 40,000–50,000-square-foot specialty grocer and a parking garage as the Development Company finalizes leasing for the space.
Paul Layne, executive vice president of master-planned communities for the Howard Hughes Company, said the development company is discussing a lease with Whole Foods. If constructed, it would be the first Whole Foods in The Woodlands.
Hughes Landing will also house what the development company is calling Restaurant Row, an area that will feature at least six restaurants. Escalante, a Mexican restaurant, has already signed a lease, while Eddie V’s, a seafood restaurant, and Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar are close to signing, Layne said. He said the development company is also seeking an Italian restaurant, and as many as 40 restaurants are vying for those few spots in Hughes Landing.
“It’s tremendously popular right now for high-end retail, and restaurants, particularly, are really interested right now,” said Gil Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership.
Staley said the EDP was recently contacted by one major restaurant group from Orlando seeking data on Hughes Landing and The Woodlands, indicating how far the demand reaches.
Construction on Restaurant Row could begin once all restaurants are signed, Sutton said.
The first phase of residential development could begin this month, Sutton said. That includes an eight-story multi-family building with 391 luxury units and 20,000 square feet of retail on the first floor. Discussions are also underway for possible entertainment attractions, including a live music venue, a bowling alley and venues similar to Main Event or Dave & Buster’s.
“You develop a place with energy, and it becomes a place where people want to be,” Sutton said. “And that is why we’re being real careful in selecting our retail. We want to make sure there’s energy.”
Layne said discussions are also ongoing with two possible properties for the development’s hotel: Element by Starwood and Embassy Suites.
The first of as many as 11 possible office buildings within Hughes Landing, One Hughes Landing is complete and will begin housing tenants this month. Construction began on Two Hughes Landing in June, which should be nearly identical in size to One Hughes Landing, Sutton said.
The third office building could begin construction in spring 2014 once Two Hughes Landing nears completion. Future office buildings should follow suit, breaking ground shortly after the previous building’s completion date.
“The interest picks up considerably once construction picks up and the tenant can see there’s actually a building there,” Sutton said.
The third office facility could be as tall as 12 stories, while the fourth could be 14 or higher as the buildings get farther from the water, Sutton said. The development company has even considered an office building on the water.
Sutton said 87 percent of the leases for One Hughes Landing have been signed, although 95 percent of the leases will soon be finalized for the 197,000-square-foot, 8-story building. Tenants include Layne Christiansen, PetroQuest Energy and Post Oak Bank.
Frank LaRosa, senior vice president and chief administrative officer for Layne Christensen, said his company should add more than 100 jobs when it moves from Kansas City. LaRosa said the housing market and increased property taxes in The Woodlands, compared to his company’s previous location, are not ideal, but the area offers a good labor base for new employees and strong amenities.
“We determined it was in the best interest of the company to reconsolidate and bring our leadership team together in a new location,” he said. “We selected The Woodlands first and foremost because it’s close to our energy services market, which is a growing business for us, and because of the amenities in Houston.”
Although Sutton said no tenants have signed leases yet for Two Hughes Landing, he and Staley believe the demand is strong.
“[One Hughes Landing] filling up so quickly is a good indicator of how strong it is right now for office demand,” Staley said. “Two is taking off as well and three should be right behind.”
With 66 acres being developed less than a mile from Town Center, Sutton said Hughes Landing will increase traffic in the area. However, he said the development company has planned for infrastructure in that area, and much of the infrastructure in place is underused.
Sutton said such improvements could include expanding roads from four lanes to six lanes at certain intersections for left and right turns. The development company has also planned for overpasses at Grogan’s Mill Road and Research Forest Drive and at Grogan’s Mill and Lake Woodlands Drive.
Sutton said The Woodlands Township could also expand the trolley service to Hughes Landing.
“We are very hopeful that the trolley will come out to Hughes Landing and come back to the Town Center and those areas,” Sutton said.
** Source: impactnews.com
by Rod Castaneda