Building projects advance in Pearland area
By Karen Zurawski
The combination of a tree-lined creek setting plus convenient access to Texas 288 and the Sam Houston Tollway are among the factors that helped Kelsey-Seybold decide to build an administrative building in Pearland.
The four-story, 170,000-square-foot building will house employees located in four office spaces now rented by the 63-year-old clinic.
A redesign of the facility to add more jobs resulted in the bids coming in higher than anticipated.
So, in February, Pearland City Council approved amendments to the performance agreements between the city, Pearland Economic Development Corp. and Kelsey-Seybold to add a 60-day extension to the completion deadline.
The $36 million project, including land, construction, all equipment and fees, now is on schedule, said Nicholas Ro, Kelsey-Seybold's chief legal and strategic officer, and that means some 800 employees will be moving to new offices in July 2013.
The facility can accommodate another 400 employees, and the 18-acre site at Kirby Drive and Shadow Creek Parkway has room for another building and/or parking garage.
Kelsey-Seybold started the design process for the facility in 2008, Ro said, but the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers financial services firm and its impact on the economy stalled the project. Confidence in the economy returned in mid-2010 and Kelsey-Seybold restarted its expansion process.
As part of the process, the company discovered that more than 60 percent of its employees live in the southern part of the Houston area - including Friendswood, Clear Lake and Pearland.
Pearland stood out as a site for the administrative building for a number of reasons, Ro said. "It has great amenities. There's lots of retail and lots of restaurants."
The city also offers a great potential for an employee base with a highly educated work force, he said.
Other important criteria on Ro's list include affordable housing, great schools, reduced commute times for employees and lower land costs in Pearland compared to some other areas of Houston.
Lower land costs in the Pearland area are a definite draw to developers, especially in the last six to eight months, said Brad Lybrand, broker at TGB Crosswell, which was involved in the land deal for Kelsey-Seybold. In December, the company sold land to Sam's Real Estate Business Trust, which is building a 136,000-square-foot Sam's Club on 16.5 acres at Texas 288 and Discovery Bay Drive. The project will include a fuel station.
"I think construction crews are working every night till 9 p.m.," said Lybrand, referring to the Sam's Club site. "They're supposed to have a grand opening in mid-October. I understand they're on target to hit that."
No timeline exists for TGB's development of a retail center at Discovery Bay Drive and the Texas 288 frontage road nor for five commercial pads adjacent to Sam's Club.
As far as tenants, Lybrand said, "We're talking with several groups right now. We'd like to see sit-down restaurants."
Behind Sam's Club at 2500 Business Center Drive is a 370-unit apartment complex, Retreat at Shadow Creek Ranch, which is near the 347-unit Discovery at Shadow Creek Ranch. McCann Realty Partners developed both projects.
Mark Wood, McCann Realty Partners director of development, said the goal is to open the new complex around Feb. 1.
The project will have units with one to three bedrooms, ranging in size from 650 to 1,478 square feet. Preliminary monthly rents are $850 to $1,400.
"We love Pearland. "It's been very good for us," said Wood, citing its proximity to the medical center, schools and shopping centers.
The second phase of Residences at Pearland Town Center, 11200 Broadway, opened a few months ago adding 172 units to an existing 62.
Square footage ranges from 668 to 1,463 and monthly rents from $1,015 to $1,845 in the Sueba USA Corp. developments.
The selection of Pearland by Kelsey-Seybold is part of an evolution in development, said Matt Buchanan, president of the Pearland Economic Development Corp.
The city experienced tremendous growth in housing first, he said.
In "Growth, Pearland Demographic Overview," published by the Pearland EDC, the U.S. census reported the city grew 142 percent to 91,252 between 2000 and 2010.
This growth means that Pearland was the 15th fastest-growing city in the United States and the second fastest-growing city in Texas, says the EDC.
The overview reports more than 16,000 single-family homes and more than 4,000 multifamily units were built between 2000 and 2010.
Retail growth followed the residential growth. In the last four to five years especially, strong retail growth has occurred in the city, he said, and now, companies like Kelsey-Seybold are coming.
PEDC encouraged Kelsey-Seybold's move by providing up to $413,000 in assistance for the development of the infrastructure that supports the headquarters facility.
Other incentives relate to new jobs created over a 10-year period and 60 percent refunds by the PEDC in the half-percent sales tax and by the city in the 1 percent sales tax over the same time period.
And growth continues.
Last October, for example, the EDC announced that Utah-based Merit Medical Systems Inc., a global medical device company, would build a research, development and manufacturing facility on 12 acres at 14646 Kirby Drive, just north of Shadow Creek Ranch. The two-story, 118,000-square-foot facility will employ more than 200 employees.
"We have a high concentration of medical providers," said Buchanan, adding that the city's proximity to the Texas Medical Center is a factor. "It does seem a natural lure for companies in the medical field - manufacturers and providers of health care and life sciences."
The city also is targeting energy companies.
Ref-Chem, an engineering firm in the energy field, broke ground in June on 11 acres at Beltway 8 and Tom Bass Parkway, he said, and will have 100 employees.