Survey Positions Area for Flood Funds, Projects

The District has a new study that will help in advocating for projects and funding to reduce flooding. Commissioned by the District and performed by Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN), the study provides the technical details needed to pinpoint specific projects and compete for federal funds.

“Texas will be receiving $222 million in funding to help with relief efforts and the District is meeting with elected officials and governmental agencies to ensure some of that money makes its ways to our area for improvement projects,” said Robert Fiederlein, the District’s vice president of strategic planning and development.

LAN modeled the April 2016 floods using state-of-the-art technology to determine how the flooding occurred in the North Houston District and why. The study identifies the area’s close proximity to Greens Bayou and the capacity of current drainage infrastructure as key factors in the flooding experienced last year.

Potential improvement projects have been identified for the area as a result of the study including drainage improvements along West Hardy, Greens Road and Imperial Valley Drive. In addition, detention needed to support these projects may require the purchase of existing property in the floodway, which could open opportunities for more parks or greens space in the area.

Construction Begins at Jack Drake Park

Pathways have been marked and clearing has begun at the site of Jack Drake Park on Bradfield Road at Hedgecroft Drive.

The park’s trail will become the beginning of an existing four-mile system along Greens Bayou that runs through Thomas R. Wussow Park, at 500 Greens Road, and Cityview Park at 16822 CityView Place.

The construction of this park is different from others in the area’s portfolio. Bart Baker, the District’s Executive Vice President and COO, who is in charge of planning and infrastructure projects, explained that while different elements such as parking, seating and lighting are being incorporated, the primary focus is conserving the park for native species.

“It has been an extremely detailed process to make very deliberate decisions about what vegetation will work best. In the end, we will be rewarded with a park that is not only a beautiful site for visitors to walk, but that provides a secluded, natural habitat for several species in the middle of suburban north Houston,” Baker said.

Greens Bayou Coalition received a grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife for the construction of the park is partnering with the District on both the clearing and design of the area. Trees for Houston, a non-profit dedicated to preserving woodlands, has also donated several species of trees for the park including Texas and Oklahoma Redbuds, White Fringetree, American Sweet Gum, Water Oak, Southern Live Oak and Texas Mountain Laurel.

Jack Drake Park is expected to be open to the public in early summer.

Partners Recognized at Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

The North Houston District recently celebrated community and corporate partners who contribute to the area’s growth and success. North Houston District President Greg Simpson highlighted the importance of the honorees by saying, “Our ability to continue building this community is closely tied to our partnerships and volunteers.” Melody Douglas, vice president of finance and administration for Morganti Texas, Inc. and vice-chair of the District’s board, joined Simpson in awarding outstanding community servants for 2016.

Hardy Properties at Intercontinental was recognized as Company of the Year for its substantial investment in a 34-building business park along West Hardy near the Sam Houston Parkway. Improvements at their business park changed the landscape of the District in that area.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office took home the award as Partner of the Year for the commitment and dedication of the Harris County Task Force. Launched in March of 2016, the task force has contributed to an overall reduction in crime. Furthermore, their efforts to build relationships with area residents, especially youth, are changing the dynamic between the law enforcement and the community.

As Volunteer of the Year, Tom Wussow, a longtime District board member, was acknowledged as a leader whose vision and insight continues to be an integral part of the organization’s progress. Credited with being the District’s founder, Wussow still offers guidance that helps the area address tough challenges. Following the 2016 Tax Day Flood, Wussow led efforts for an engineering study that puts the community in a position to compete for federal funds for flood mitigation projects.

Three Community Spirit Award recipients were honored for the critical roles and resources provided to support flood recovery efforts. Aldine ISD helped rescue families and safely transport them to shelters. Its M.O. Campbell Educational Center served as the primary shelter for District families displaced by the flood. Harvest Time Church became a primary donation drop-off and distribution point in the heart of the community, offering hot meals and supplies within walking distance of many of the hardest hit apartment communities. The City of Houston worked tirelessly to expedite recovery efforts. A team met weekly with property owners to assist with critical needs, like permitting for repairs, debris removal, additional law enforcement and providing housing options and resources for displaced families.

North Houston District board members are also recognized for their service. Donna Volkerding, area business travel manager for Interstate Hotels and Resorts, was recognized at the luncheon for one year of service.

The volunteer appreciation event began in 1992 as a way to acknowledge individuals and organizations whose partnership and efforts significantly enhance or expand programs in the North Houston District service area.

To view an album of photos from the luncheon, visit our Facebook page.

North Houston District Provides 2016 Real Estate Snapshot

The North Houston District held its Market Update Meeting for the area’s real estate managers and brokers. The District’s Vice President of Planning and Strategic Development, Robert Fiederlein, presented an in-depth report on the North Houston submarket as well as information on a citywide initiative to bring headquarters to Houston.

Robert’s presentation can be found here.

Also available is the Submarket Report – 2016 SnapshotA report highlighting the trends and opportunities in the office, industrial/flex and multifamily sectors in the North Houston submarket in 2016.

North Houston District 2016 Top Deals Include Amazon and More

Online retail giant Amazon is among the businesses moving into the North Houston District’s more than 20 million-square-feet of office, retail and industrial space. A key player in the region’s economy, the District’s growth is showcased by an ever-expanding corporate family of local and multi-national companies.

Amazon Construction 

Seattle-based Amazon is constructing a 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Pinto Business Park at the southwest corner of Interstate 45 and the North Sam Houston Parkway. Construction is underway, with operations projected to begin in the third quarter of this year. The warehouse and distribution space, with a total investment of more than $130 million, will occupy nearly 10 percent of the 970-acre Pinto Business Park.

In addition to more than 1,000 new, full-time jobs, the facility also could provide part-time temporary and seasonal jobs. It is estimated the center could have an annual economic impact of $172.9 million.

Purchases and Leases Strong Overall 

Purchases and leases continued to be robust, with many businesses deciding to make the District their home. In total, CoStar reports show more than 140 leases and more than 30 sales in the Greenspoint submarket in 2016.

Highlights include:

Lowe’s leased 159,913-square-feet at the Prologis Greens Parkway facility, which was reported as the top industrial lease in the second quarter by CBRE research.

Porsche of North Houston, owned by Houston-based Indigo Auto Group, is relocating to the District and expanding its dealership. The new 64,000-square-foot facility will allow the dealership to expand to 26 from 8 service bays and will be adjacent to Indigo’s existing Lamborghini Houston and IndiGO Classic Cars dealerships. The 5-acre facility is scheduled to open in June.

Industrial Property Trust purchased a 190,565-square-foot industrial building at 302 West Road. The building is fully leased to Victory Packaging.

Hass Holdings purchased the West Road Collection neighborhood shopping center for $15 million. The 65,798-square-foot center at the northwest corner of West Road and Interstate 45 is 98 percent leased with Best Buy as the main tenant.

Bureau Veritas, a global company in testing, inspection and certification services headquartered in France, leased 44,000-square-feet at Greenspoint Park.

Vantiv, a leading payment processing company headquartered in Cincinnati, leased 41,000-square-feet at the Reserve at Greens Crossing. Vantiv is the second-largest merchant acquirer and the largest PIN debit acquirer based on number of transactions in the U.S.

White Oak Energy, an engineering based company that acquires and operates oil producing properties in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and Louisiana, leased 22,000-square-feet at 16945 Northchase Drive. With this move, the company upgraded to Class A office space and expanded by 40 percent.

Rapid Laser has leased 11,516-square-feet at Hardy Properties at Intercontinental, located at 15503 West Hardy Road.

Bargain Storage, which located its newest 631-unit facility at 12555 Northborough Drive, opened for business in October 2016.

Opportunities for Companies Seeking Headquarters

Significant investments continue to be made in the area’s office projects. Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) is investing roughly $2.8 million worth of renovations at 396 West Greens Road, one of several buildings previously occupied by Exxon Mobil. The 189,000-square-foot, 36-year-old building will be spruced up and modernized. Renovations should wrap up in February, and potential tenants have already expressed interest in floor plans ranging from 5,000-square-feet to 80,000-square-feet.

In 2016, Northwestern Mutual took ownership of the six-building, 2.1 million-square-foot office complex that was another long-time home for Exxon Mobil. Previous owner, General Motors Pension Fund, invested millions in upgrades, adding a 7,000-square-foot fitness facility and state-of-the-art conference center. Northwestern Mutual has engaged Transwestern to market and lease the project. Transwestern has more than 100,000-square-feet of new transactions in the works.

“The premier location offers the largest block of Class A office space in a campus environment in all of Texas,” said Michelle Wogan, Transwestern’s executive vice president in charge of the project. “Many tenants are seeking a relocation to this campus due to its close proximity to the airport, ability to get almost anywhere in Houston in less than 30 minutes, residential communities within close proximity, connection to the Hilton and retail amenities, wireless access and other conveniences that corporate tenants look for in today’s environment.”

For more information on the North Houston District’s development activity, go to www.northhouston.org or call 281-874-2131.

District Welcomes Officer Pereira to Park Patrol

The next time you visit Wussow Park, stop by and say hello to Officer Roy Pereira. He is a member of the Spartan Security Services team and North Houston District’s park patrol officer.

Originally from Murtosa, Portugal, Pereira served in the United States Army, specializing in explosive detonation, heavy demolition and weapons, which sharpened his precision and required quick-thinking and calmness in high-stress situations.

His career began at the Olympia Trails Bus Company in New Jersey. Under his leadership, the company transformed into one of the most requested charter bus companies in New Jersey and was known for its stellar customer service.

His commitment to providing excellent service extended to his time in retail. Starting as a sales associate at Home Depot, he was quickly promoted to department head and then to the safety and loss prevention team. Now Pereira brings his passion for others and boots-on-the-ground experience to the North Houston District.

“Pereira’s diverse career experiences will be a huge asset as he interacts with our park patrons,” said District Public Safety Director Tracy Harrison.

Welcome, Officer Pereira!

North Houston Bike Park to Host 2020 BMX World Championships

Union Cyclist International recently announced that the North Houston Bike Park, currently under construction adjacent to the North Houston Skate Park, will host the competition.

Several organizations including the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, United States Olympic Committee, USA Cycling, USA BMX and the Greater Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority (GGRA) all worked together to submit the winning bid for the competition scheduled to take place May 26-31, 2020.

When completed the North Houston Bike Park will be part of a 30-acre extreme sports complex including a world-class BMX race track, concrete vert features, street course, pump tracks, tot track, bike trails and an outdoor sports center that will be able to seat approximately 3,500 guests.

Janis Burke, CEO of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority is excited about the potential tourist activity this new park will bring to Houston and the surrounding area. “Houston’s brand-new North Houston Bike Park is truly impressive with great offerings and appealing fan fest areas that can be utilized in the green spaces surrounding the park. We are looking forward to building our cycling community with these facilities,” she told USA BMX magazine. Sally Bradford, executive director of the GGRA, echoed this sentiment, “We are excited to host this incredible event and invite the world to enjoy this wonderful complex,” she said.

BMX cycling has seen a surge in popularity in the last few years and debuted as an Olympic sport at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The UCI World Championships will be the final stop for the athletes before heading to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Lone Star College Picked As Training Site for Automotive Giant

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently enlisted Lone Star College (LSC) – North Harris to serve as a service training site. The program, known as Mopar CAP (Career Automotive Program) Local, is sponsored in partnership with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) to train approximately 1,000 students annually. The program officially launched at LSC-North Harris on Oct. 27.

“Together with our partner, NC3, we are making great progress in expanding our geographic footprint of training sites by identifying and certifying colleges nationwide, such as LSC-North Harris, that have a highly-qualified automotive program,” said John Fox, director of dealer training at FCA US LLC. LSC-North Harris is currently the only college in the greater Houston area participating in the program.

LSC-North Harris President Dr. Gerald Napoles said, “This new partnership is exciting for students enrolled in our successful automotive program. The automotive industry is always looking for qualified technicians to fill current positions because of the ever-changing technology and now our students will have a competitive advantage and be able to earn an excellent salary right out of college.”

According to Tom Robertson, director, career and applied technology at LSC-North Harris, “With Mopar CAP Local, our students will learn specific technologies used exclusively on Chysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram and Fiat products.”

The program will enable students to go to college and begin working at a Chysler, Jeep®, Dodge or Ram dealership. Chrysler also supplies each Mopar CAP college with training aids including the latest production vehicles, components, diagnostic equipment, service information and Chrysler-specific training materials. “FCA US LLC is the seventh-largest automaker in the world based on total annual sales, so there will be incredible employment opportunities for our students in the future,” Robertson added.

LSC-North Harris offers Level I or Level II stackable certificates and an Associate of Applied Science degree in automotive technology. The college’s program is accredited by the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF).

LSC-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 East, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. The college, which opened its doors in 1973, serves the residents of Aldine and Spring ISDs. Currently, more than 17,000 students attend class on the 200-acre main campus in addition to its two satellite centers, LSC-Greenspoint Center and LSC-Victory Center.

North Houston District Parks and Recreation Manager Among This Year’s “Women of Excellence”

The North Houston District’s Parks and Recreation Manager, Treena Dockery, was recently honored with a “Woman of Excellence” award by the Federation of Houston Professional Women. She was this year’s honoree from the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) – Greenspoint Chapter.

 Dockery currently serves as Vice President of the ABWA Board and has previously served as secretary and president of the organization. “Although it is an individual award, I truly believe that it is my chapter’s award,” she said. “My chapter has had a big hand in motivating and supporting me in obtaining professional development. It has helped me in my career and I am truly honored.”

ABWA – Greenspoint Chapter President Keisha Beasley has been proud to witness Dockery’s professional growth over the years. “She has blossomed from her beginning as an employee, having worked all the way up to being in charge of Greenspoint’s parks, We are overjoyed to have her as our nominee.” Beasley added that Dockery is truly deserving of the recognition. “You would probably see her picture next to excellence in the dictionary. She is always doing whatever she can on behalf of our organization and she is a role model to others.”

The Federation of Houston Professional Women in an alliance of diverse women’s professional organizations. Its Women of Excellence annual event honors outstanding business women from the member organizations and raises scholarship funds for women in the Houston area. Dr. Melanie Brown is President of the group and further explained, “Each organization acknowledges a woman from their group and we spotlight their achievements throughout the year. One of the main purposes of our gala is to have a number of sponsorships to raise funds for educational opportunities and help women in need in their own academic journeys.”

As the parks and recreation manager for the North Houston District, Dockery oversees the operations of the area’s parks including North Houston Skate Park, the largest skate park in North America. Prior to her current role, Dockery supported the District’s Operations, Planning and Infrastructure department as project administrator, where she was responsible for the coordination of various code enforcement, field services, and facilities activities.

She also currently serves as the Vice Chair of the organization’s Houston Area Council. Previous positions with ABWA also include” co-chair for the Fundraising Committee for the Business Associate Event as well as member of the hospitality, membership and nominating committees. She is affiliated with several other organizations that promote leadership and community involvement.

Dockery is a graduate of both the Harris County Citizen’s Police Academy and Leadership North Houston. An avid sports advocate since college, she uses her passion for youth sports by volunteering with the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA, which also utilizes the North Houston Skate Park as a venue for its Teen Achievers program, and the Southwest Juniors Volleyball Club. Dockery studied physical education at Eastern New Mexico University.

To view pictures of the 2016 Women of Excellence Gala, check out the District’s Facebook page.

METRO Offers Free Rides to Voters

METRO is offering free round-trip service to and from the polls on all METRO local bus, light-rail and METROLift paratransit service on Friday, Nov. 4 and Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

For more information on early voting and polling locations, click here. Please inform the bus operator or train fare inspector to receive your free, round-trip ride to the polls.

Plan your trip at RideMETRO.org.