By Betsy Dolan
The Missouri City City Council is trying to determine whether putting up to 600 multi-family units in a prime location off of the Fort Bend Toll Road is in the city’s long term best interest or whether the land would be better served by commercial development.
In the end, the council voted 5 to 2 to approve re-zoning the 30-acre tract of land from retail use to multi-family. The ordinance also calls for amending the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The measure has one more public hearing and one more reading before it is formally approved. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission has already approved the ordinance.
The rectangular shaped piece of land is west of Hightower High School and bounded by Trammel-Fresno Road, the Fort Bend Parkway and Highway 6. Plans also call for a retail development to go in adjacent to the multi-family units.
The city has talked about creating a “town center” concept in the area which would include high density housing. A new Kroger store and park and ride facility as well as expansion plans at the Medical Center have some city council members convinced that now is the time to move forward with putting multi-family housing in that area.
“I’m concerned that if we don’t get some people utilizing that shopping center where Kroger is, we’re gong to end up with empty boxes over there,” Mayor Allen Owen said. “We have an opportunity to get something done with Trammel-Fresno and to get a first class development that will hopefully bring some retail development to that corner.”
The gated multi-family community will be marketed to young professionals who are shown to be an under served population in city surveys, Councilman Don Smith said.
But Councilman Robin Elackatt questioned whether apartments mesh with the “town center” concept that the city is working toward and proposed that the city consider leaving the property zoned for retail use.
“I’m asking you to consider whether putting apartments on this great piece of land the direction we want to go?”, Elackatt said. “It might not ever be a 59 and Highway 6 corridor but it would allow people one-stop shopping that will bring in new revenues.”
Gary Smith, Missouri City’s Director of Developmental Services told the council that the land is part of the Tax Reinvestment Zone #2 and that, no matter what is put on the property, the city will not see any tax revenues until the zone is dissolved in another 15 years.
Missouri City is also working through safety concerns in relation to where the entrance to the development would be. There are concerns that the entrance needs to be moved further north to alleviate possible “stacking” of cars exiting off of the Fort Bend Toll Road.