Katy area grows west into Waller County with mobility projects, master-planned communities

Katy area grows west into Waller County with mobility projects, master-planned communities Main Photo

30 Jan 2024

By: Dave Manning and Kelly Schafler - Community Impact

The Waller County economy is growing, particularly along I-10 and Hwy. 290, aided by an abundance of available land and the efforts of local business development leaders, local officials said.

As more businesses come to the area and attract new workers, residential developers have responded with over two dozen planned developments to help meet the demand for housing, said Vince Yokom, executive director of the Waller County Economic Development Partnership.

“[There’s] just a natural westward expansion and less land in the Houston area,” Yokom said. “But people have had more choices now [of places] to work in Waller County, with all the great businesses that we have been landing.”

Meanwhile, the county’s $280 million mobility bond voters passed in November will aid transportation needs in the Katy area for both commercial and residential users, Yokom said.

The overview

Experts predict new housing developments will greatly increase Waller County’s population over the next 20 years.

“If everything continues the way it goes right now, somewhere between 2030 and 2035 our population will double,” Yokom said.

Demographic firm Population and Survey Analysts’ November report for Katy ISD showed two of KISD’s largest single-family contributors over the next 10 years are in Waller County. They include:

  • Sunterra, near Pitts and Clay roads, plans to add 3,604 homes over the next 10 years, per PASA’s report.
  • Johnson Development’s 1,150-acre community near Morton Road and FM 2855 will bring 2,800 homes, with the sales coming in 2025, community officials said.

What’s happening

To meet mobility needs of the growing area, Waller County and the Texas Department of Transportation officials have taken on various projects to widen and build roads in north Katy.

Waller County voters passed the $280 million mobility bond in November, which included five road projects totaling $144.69 million in the Katy area, according to county bond documents.

Waller County Engineer Ross McCall said the county aims to finish the projects over the next five years.

Meanwhile, TxDOT crews plan to begin several widening projects over the next 5-10 years.

A three-phase project will widen FM 529 from the Grand Parkway to FM 362 starting in 2027-28; Hwy. 90 will be widened from I-10 to FM 1463 beginning in early 2028, TxDOT Public Information Officer Kristina Hadley said.

Another will widen FM 2855 from FM 529 to Hwy. 90, but it won’t bid until 2031, she said.

Digging deeper

Realtor Tim Sjoka, CEO of See Tim Sell Property Group, said he believes much of the growth in south Waller County can be attributed to KISD becoming a destination district for parents seeking top-rated public schools.

In response to the growth, KISD has recently undertaken construction of two new schools to accommodate the enrollment needs of the area.

“The district is experiencing tremendous growth, particularly in the northwest quadrant,” said Nick Petito, KISD general manager of media relations, in an email.

To account for that, the district will open Nelson Junior High this fall at 25747 Longenbaugh Road. The school will accommodate 1,400 students for an estimated cost ​of $55 million, according to the district’s website.

Freeman High School will also open this fall at 7800 Katy Hockley Road at an estimated cost of $183 million.

Funds for both come from the KISD’s $676.2 million bond approved in May 2021.

Quotes of note

  • “We’re not overly regulated [in Waller County], and that leads to a very predictable and business-friendly environment," Yokom said.
    “The [mobility] projects in the north Katy area ... were identified because we have a lot of new development and new subdivisions going in,” McCall said.

What's being done

Overall, Sjoka said community, education and business leaders together created an environment that has consistently brought jobs to Katy.

“Katy [community leaders] started the Katy [Area] Economic Development Council, ... [which began] working with businesses and working with school districts and working with colleges,” Sjoka said. “They have brought job after job after job to Katy.”

As a nonprofit public-private partnership, the WCEDP has worked with existing businesses and those wanting to move into the county, which in turn increases the population and drives residential and retail development, Yokom said.

Some of those businesses the group has brought to the county are Amazon, Goya Foods and Weatherford, an oil and gas services company, according to the WCEDP.

The economic development has resulted in rising tax revenues for the county, with data from the EDP showing a 355% increase in property tax revenue from EDP projects between calendar years 2015-23.

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