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The Long and Winding Road to Growth: Houston’s Grand Parkway

Brian Landes

Brian Landes

(By Dale King) HOUSTON – There’s good news and not-so-good news to report about Greater Houston’s “Grand Parkway” road project.

The good news is that the 180-mile highway which will eventually encircle Houston and its environs will provide “improved access and greater demand for office space” in various submarkets. It will also “help suburban commuters get around Houston easier and ease congestion on other roadways,” says a report prepared by Transwestern, a privately held, Houston-based real estate firm made up of collaborative entrepreneurs.

The not-so-good news is that construction of what will be one of the longest roads to circumnavigate a major municipality probably won’t be finished until the next decade. And the final section, ironically called “Segment A,” may draw considerable opposition since it is likely to transect a heavily developed area.

Latest figures say Segment A will connect State Highway 146 with I-45 South. The exact route and completion date are both unknown.

The report looks at how major cities in the US are “leading the charge to stay economically competitive” by making sure infrastructure is in tip-top shape, said Brian Landes, a geographic information system analyst for Transwestern.

Called “Cranes & Lanes: The Link between Infrastructure and Commercial Real Estate,” the study focuses on a number of projects in the northern United States – Boston, New York and San Francisco. The Grand Parkway is the only one in Houston, but the report also cites the advantages of two programs in Atlanta and one in Washington, D.C.

“Projects run the gamut from new stadiums to reworked interchanges to entirely new districts, but they do have one thing in common. Every infrastructure project is expected to lead to rent growth and increased occupancy in its respective market,” says Transwestern.

The new road around Houston, Landes said, will also create new submarkets outside of the downtown. “It will link two growing office destinations: the Energy Corridor submarket on the west side of Houston with The Woodlands in the north.”

“Improved access and greater demand for office space in these submarkets is expected to lead to increased occupancy and higher rental rates.”

Because of the project’s length, it is being built in segments. The idea for a grand roadway to handle a population that is nearing the seven million mark goes back to 1984, he said. “Houston has long grown past its first two beltways and is now expanding toward the route of Grand Parkway.”

The first finished phase of the road opened in 1994, with additions in 2008, 2013 and 2016. “The most recent sections complete an arc across northwest Houston and surrounding suburbs.”

Landes said he sees the road project dovetailing with urban redevelopment that is drawing large numbers of millennials, empty nesters and baby boomers to downtown Houston. He noted that infrastructure projects do not conflict with public transportation modes. In fact, many programs cited in the Transwestern report are rail improvement efforts, including two new rail tunnels in New York, an extension of the Long Island Railroad, also in New York, the new Silver Line addition to the Washington, D.C. Metro rail system and Metro Line extensions in Los Angeles.

Several highlights of the Grand Parkway include:

Segment D, the first section opened, which runs from just north of Interstate 10, west of Houston, south to Interstate 69/US 59 in Sugar Land where it terminates and intersects with FM 2759.

Segment E, connecting the I-10 Katy Freeway in the south to US 290, opened in December 2013.

Segment F-1, connecting US 290 to Texas State Highway 249, opened Feb. 5, 2016. A portion of Segment F-2 opened in April 2015 and the remainder began accepting traffic Feb. 5, 2016.

Work is just starting or will start soon on Segments H, I-1 and I-2, among others.

August 22, 2016 Realty News Report Copyright 2016

 

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