Hines Shifting Center of Gravity

HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – The Hines company, considered by some to be the gold standard in Houston real estate, has placed its blessing on the south side of the Houston metropolitan area.

With a master planned community in mind, Hines has acquired almost 1,000 acres south of Houston. Today, much of the land is used for agriculture with its flatness occupied by cattle, plowed dirt and farming equipment. Tomorrow, it will be home to thousands of Texans.

For years, the southern part of the Houston metro area was ignored. Even though it was due south of the Texas Medical Center, new development was non-existent.  Cattle grazed on places that are now covered with housing and retail development.

In the 1980s, a solid attempt was made with Southwyck, a master planned community south of FM 518 and east of Highway 288. The Southwyck golf course and a significant amount of housing were built before hard times came and a Chapter 11 was required.

The area languished for a while. Then land developer Larry Johnson stepped up to the plate.

Johnson, who died last year, was the key figure in popularizing Pearland’s 288 Corridor. In 1994, Johnson bought the unfinished Southwyck community in Pearland, and renamed it Silverlake. Prior to Silverlake, Pearland and the underutilized 288 Corridor did not have high-volume home sales.

But Johnson, backed with investment dollars from Prudential, relaunched the project and focused Silverlake marketing on the easy commute offered by Highway 288 at that time. Homebuyers responded in droves. Pearland’s access to the Texas Medical Center, which has over 100,000 employees, was a winning selling point for homebuyers. Within 27 months of Silverlake’s grand opening in April 1995, it was No. 2 in home sales for the entire Houston area.

Since Silverlake, growth in Pearland – and all along the Highway 288 south of Houston – has been significant. Major developers, such as Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood, have added quality land developments. New master planned communities such as Shadow Creek Ranch, Meridiana and Pomona were started.

Now, Hines – the global real estate company founded in Houston by Mr. Gerald D. Hines in 1957 – is making a big play south of Houston along Highway 288.

Hines, along with partners Trez Capital and various LP investors, acquired 954 acres in Brazoria County to be developed into a master-planned community.

Hines has created a land plan for a 954-acre community in Brazoria County south of Houston. Image: Courtesy Hines

The site is located on the west side of State Highway 288, north of FM 1462 and near the municipality of Iowa Colony, which has had a reputation as a speed trap for drivers.

The Hines development will consist of 2,100 single-family homes.

It’s Hines biggest residential community in the Houston area since it started the 9,700-acre First Colony in the 1970s in partnership with the Stichting Shell Pension Fund.

Hines has not named the new community which is near a village called Sandy Point. It’s located in Alvin Independent School District.

The planned route of the Grand Parkway (State Highway 99) toll road extension is just south of the Hines’ new community.

This portion of the Grand Parkway is one of the final legs of the 180-mile circumferential highway around the Houston metropolitan area.

Since the first section opened in 1994, the Grand Parkway has paved the way to a considerable amount of growth and development, including large-scale master planned communities in far suburban and exurban prairies.

Critics say the Grand Parkway enabled sprawl from Houston’s center and increased dependence on autos for commuting. On the other hand, supporters point to the supply of attainable housing for families seeking communities with quality schools and green space – and residences dependent on the Grand Parkway.

Hines’ new Brazoria County community will be about 20 miles south of Hines’ new 53-acre Levit Green life sciences district on Holcombe Boulevard adjacent to the Texas Medical Center.

The commute to Levit Green and the Texas Medical Center is eased by the Highway 288 Expressway, a toll road that opened in 2020. That’s the good news. The bad news is the 288 Expressway has “dynamic” pricing, meaning the one-way toll can be around $12 in busy drive times. The exorbitant tolls put the drive out of reach for the household budgets of many commuters. Elected officials have not achieved meaningful control of the sky-high tolls on the 288 Expressway.

Land transaction credits: Derek Graber with Dosch Marshall represented Hines in the land deal. David Cook and Meredith Cullen with Cushman & Wakefield represented the seller. Financing was provided by Flagstar Bank and Rocky Lai Associates.

April 19, 2023 Realty News Report Copyright 2023

Photo by Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report Copyright 2023

Land plan: Courtesy Hines


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