By Betsy Dolan
Regina Morales, Sugar Land’s Director of Economic Development, got emotional at one point during the presentation to City Council on the 10 year anniversary of Sugar Land’s Town Square.
“By all measures this is the centerpiece of our city,” Morales said. “It is our heart and soul. It did create our identity.”
The 32-acre mixed-use development in the center of Sugar Land has evolved into an award-winning, mixed-use development that earned a Houston Business Journal Landmark Award in 2005 for “Best Community Impact” and another in 2006 for “Best Mixed Use Development.”
In January, Sugar Land Town Square was a finalist for the Urban Land Institute’s Development of Distinction award.
“Back in the mid-90’s when we first started discussing this idea, an urban design was a very new concept for a largely suburban entity like Sugar Land,” Morales said.
Today, with the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center as the anchor, Town Center has 563,000 square feet of office space, 166 condominiums at City Plaza, Sugar Land City Hall and more than 60 retail and restaurants.
“There were only six restaurants planned in the original design,” Morales told the council. “Today we have 31 so it is an example of where we recognized we had a successful market and we capitalized on it.”
Sugar Land Town Square was created by a public-private partnership and the city estimates that it has exceeded original investment estimates by more than $55 million. Retail occupancy is at 93% and sales taxes and mixed beverage taxes higher than projected.
“Sugar Land Town Square was envisioned to be a true town center for our community – a place where people could gather, conduct business and socialize with one another,” said Les Newton, president of Planned Community Developers, Ltd. “Ten years later, we’re happy to see this vision come to life.”
The long-term economic benefit to the City of Sugar Land will come through the expiration of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) in 2025. The tax revenues generated from the project are utilized to repay debt issued for the development. By the time the TIRZ expires in 2025, the City will realize an estimated $5 million benefit from the development. When the city pays off the last bonds in 2027, the net cumulative economic impact will be $7.7 million, and thereafter, the City will benefit from approximately $2.9 million in annual revenues from various taxes (sales, property, hotel and mixed beverage).
Sugar Land Town Square was created by a public-private partnership that included Planned Community Developers (then Sugarland Properties), the City of Sugar Land, Fort Bend County, Levee Improvement District 2, the Sugar Land Development Corporation, the Sugar Land 4B Corporation, the Sugar Land Town Square TIRZ #1 and the Sugar Land Town Square Development Authority.