Sugar Land P & Z approves final
development plan for Telfair Exchange Lofts
By Betsy Dolan
With the support of Telfair’s Homeowner’s Association, Sugar Land’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the final development plan for the Telfair Exchange Lofts on August 23.
The plan calls for 330 units in a three-building, four-story complex on 11 acres near Branford Place and Westcott Avenue. The plan now moves to the city council for their consideration.
In backing the multi-family plan during a public hearing, Aaron Folse, Vice President of the Telfair HOA, told the commissioners that the 2,700 residents in the master planned community purchase homes knowing about the future commercial and multi-family sites in the area and the reduction in property taxes they represent.
“To repeal or change this zoning would be fiscally irresponsible and possibly place this tax burden on the homeowners of Telfair,” Folse said. In addition, the apartments will provide a much needed buffer between the single family homes and U.S. 59, Folse said.
But Telfair resident ,Tammy Marino, wondered why residents weren’t invited to a recent meeting between Newland Communities, SUEBA, TBG Partners and Telfair’s HOA to discuss the project and doubts that the high end complex will be able to command the rents that the developers claim. Projected rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Telfair is estimated to be $1,550.
“I went on Craig’s List today and found several two bedroom apartments in Sugar Land for $975. I found a 3-bedroom house in Greatwood for $1,850. I found rentals in Town Square for $1,600. If I’m a young professional looking for a fun nightlife, I’d pick Town Square over Telfair.” Marino said. “And what happens when SUEBA doesn’t get the rent they want and what is going to happen to the lease agreements when SUEBA sells the buildings?”
Two representatives from Sustainable Sugar Land who are trying to gather enough signatures to change the multi-family zoning regulations in the city, also spoke out against the plan. Diana Miller questioned the lack of discussion concerning the impact the apartments would have on overcrowding at Cornerstone Elementary.
“I spoke with one property manager in First Colony who indicated that every unit in their community is occupied by families with school age children and the schools are the number one reason they moved to the area,” Miller said.
Stan Winter with TBG Partners told the commissioners that the plan is for two-thirds of the apartments to be one-bedroom with a limited number of three bedroom apartments. But Miller and others with the Sustainable Sugar Land group allege that developers can use the Fair Housing Act to increase the number of 3-bedroom apartments after the final development plan is approved by the city thereby making the apartments more attractive to families.
Commissioner Jim Shaw, a Telfair resident, scolded the two Sustainable Sugar Land representatives stating that “the Telfair HOA is able to speak for the residents much better than those who don’t even live in the community. You don’t know what the impact is or what the community wants.”
Multi-family housing, specifically 400 units on 20 acres, has been part of Telfair’s General Development Plan since 2003 and the proposed apartment location near Branford Place and Westcott Avenue has been in place since 2006. When asked by newly appointed Commissioner Lars Hagen about the remaining 70 units and 9 acres, Winter acknowledged that additional multi-family or patio homes could be built on the site.
The City says that Telfair’s HOA and the developers met on July 18 to discuss the project. Approximately 35-40 residents attended that meeting.