09.03.2009

Humble councilmen consider new development

Kathy Parks
Houston Business Journal

Clinton Wong, president of Skymark Development, approached City Council members at the Feb. 26 Council meeting as the preliminary step in the creation of Intercontinental Municipal Utility District.
Wong, who has negotiated similar deals in the area of JFK Boulevard and Beltway 8 is in negotiations with approximately 78 property owners who would be affected by his possible purchase of approximately 200 acres of land which would be developed for commercial use.

The acreage is bordered by Will Clayton Parkway on the north, South Houston Street on the east, the J L Ranchland Subdivision to the south and the rail road track on the west. The developer has been working on the deal for about one year.

“This is a long process,” said Wong. “The next step is to return to City Council with a Utility Agreement for them to look at within 30 days and a development agreement within 90 days.”

He said the first step in development is to get the land ready for commercial use. He said that means pouring concrete for roads and laying water and sewer pipes. He estimated the ground breaking would take place within 6 months, but said he would push to get through each step more quickly than the timeline noted.

Councilman Bill Conner asked Wong a series of questions about the development, which could cost as much as $12- to 14-million and would be paid for with bonds. As parcels of land in the developed area are purchased for hotels, industrial facilities and retail space, those land owners would pay back the bonds needed for development through a Municipal Utility District tax.

“It’s not an uncommon way to pay for utilities in developments in this area,” said Darrell Boeske, City Manager.

One of Conner’s questions was about Wong’s desire for a tax free zone. Wong said it would attract businesses that shipped parts of goods from overseas and assembled them at a site in the development.

Boeske said when he brings the utility agreement, the City will make sure his plans allow for proper drainage and pipes are the correct size and capacity to meet the City’s specifications. He said when Wong brings the development agreement; the City will check it for green spaces, buffer zones, additional turn lanes if traffic is impeded. He said the City will also look at proposed signage and check that the noise levels in offices will meet requirements of construction near the airport.

In other City business, councilmen voted to advertise for bids on several road construction projects. The projects will be funded with $2.6 million remaining from the last construction bond.

Public Works is asking for a base bid on Townsen West and Bower Road. They estimate the work to be approximately $1,524,500. If bid prices allow, the City hopes to add construction on Kathy and Ken Street for around $303,700 and Defee and a Public easement for $230,000.

“We don’t now how the bids will come in,” said Boeske.

He said with the sagging economy there may be a lot of construction crews stand idle who are willing to give the City a low enough price to do it all. If not, the City has the projects listed in order of priority.

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