HOUSTON–Springwoods Village is a 1,800-acre mixed-use community being developed in north Harris County, and is home to the new Exxon Mobil campus and Southwestern Energy’s new headquarters.
. Owner and developer, Coventry Development Corp. is working on multiple stages of the huge project, looking to deliver a significant amount in time for ExxonMobil’s big move. GlobeSt.com caught up with Keith Simon, executive vice president of Coventry, to find out what’s next for the project. (This is the second part of a two-part interview.)
GlobeSt.com: What’s next for Springwoods Village?
Simon: The next big and very important thing is our mixed-use district in the heart of the community. We are working on a number of deals that will result in construction of high density residential, a full service hotel and several mid-rise buildings with retail at the street level and offices above—all arranged around a major public plaza that connects to one of Springwoods Village’s lake and park systems, which in turn connect to the Spring Creek Greenway. Phase 1 will be completed around the end of 2015.
GlobeSt.com: In the end – what will the total office, residential, hotel and retail square footage be?
Simon: At build-out, Springwoods Village will have a population of approximately 15,000 and will serve up to 50,000 employees. The community will have 4,500 to 5,000 residential units, from luxury rental homes, to compact town-homes and single family houses with yards.
Preliminary projections indicate about nine million square feet of commercial use (office, retail, medical, civic) at build-out.
GlobeSt.com: How does Springwoods exemplify sustainable, healthy living?
Simon: Springwoods Village was designed to combine preservation of the existing ecosystem; development of a walkable, urban environment, with easy access to jobs, retail, entertainment and nature; and placing high sustainability standards on all home and commercial construction – an approach not seen before in other master-planned communities located in and around the Houston area.
The existing forest and Spring Creek ecosystems continue to be protected and preserved during the construction phase. The community is directly connected through the Springwoods Village Nature Preserve – a 150-acre ecologically-rich nature preserve featuring a forest habitat, wetlands and a pond – to the Spring Creek Greenway, a premier regional greenway system, providing access to 33 miles of trails, recreation and natural ecosystems for the Springwoods Village community.
During the proposal phase, builders are asked to demonstrate a proven ability to design and build sustainable residential and commercial products. All projects are reviewed by a Design Review Committee before they are approved, to uphold the community’s commitment to sustainability standards and preservation. For example, residential projects are required to meet the LEED Gold and Energy Star 3 standards as a minimum.
GlobeSt.com: Considering the entire project, what is one aspect you are most proud of?
Simon: Probably the single-most amazing aspect is that the land was purchased in 1962 and held out of development until the land sale to ExxonMobil in 2008. Without that patience, ExxonMobil would have ended up somewhere else and it would be unlikely that the Grand Parkway and all the other development and job growth that is occurring in NW Harris County would take place.
GlobeSt.com: Are you seeing any interesting trends within the master-planned community sector?
Simon: One of the most interesting new trends that is being validated in both our RidgeGate (Denver, CO) and Springwoods Village communities is the integration of corporate campuses in mixed-use master planned communities. We believe it gives employers an advantage when recruiting and retaining their future workforce that does not want to be dependent upon their cars. In a mixed-use master planned community, people can walk or bike to work and to restaurants at lunch time, be connected to nature and have access to good school districts and many private school options. And our communities are also strategically located along surface and mass transit routes for connectivity to other residential centers.