Welcome Home to Kingwood
Kingwood is a 14,000 acre (57 km²) master-planned community located in northeast Houston, Texas, United States. The majority of the community is located in Harris County with a small portion in Montgomery County. Known as the “Livable Forest,” it is the largest master-planned community in Harris County and second-largest within the 10-county Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area. It was classified as a “census-designated place” during the 1990 census, when the population recorded was 37,397. It is on the east fork of the San Jacinto River.
Kingwood was created in 1971 as a joint venture between the Friendswood Development Company and King Ranch. Its name was derived as part of that partnership.
The City of Houston annexed portions of what would become Kingwood in the 1960s, but it dis-annexed those portions by the late 1970s, making them unincorporated.
Kingwood was founded in 1970, and the first village opened in 1971. Since the opening, the community had the slogan “The Livable Forest.” In 1976 Kingwood had a few thousand residents. Between 1980 and 1990 the community’s population increased between 40 percent and 70 percent. In 1990 the community had 19,443 residents and 204 businesses. The population increased to 37,397 in 1992. In 2005 the population was roughly 65,000, and had almost 200,000 people living within a ten-mile (16 km) radius.
In 1994, the City of Houston began the process to annex Kingwood. According to Texas state law at the time, a home-rule city was allowed to annex an unincorporated area, without the consent of the residents, if the area is within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. Bob Lanier, then the Mayor of Houston, believed that the annexation of Kingwood would result in a $4 million annual gain for the City of Houston. Lanier argued that the city needed to bring in Kingwood to add more to its tax base. On Wednesday August 21, 1996, the Houston City Council asked the Planning and Development Department to create service plans for Kingwood and Jacintoport, another area being annexed by Houston. The annexation of Kingwood and Jacintoport increased the city’s population by about 43,000 people. The annexation meant that areas de-annexed by the city in the 1970s were being re-annexed.
Renée C. Lee of the Houston Chronicle said that Kingwood residents “fought an uphill battle [against annexation] for two years.” Kingwood residents offered to pay $4 million to the city in exchange for not being annexed. The residents also filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Houston, claiming that the city was taxing residents without representation. At the time, many residents believed that the City of Houston would not follow through on the state law requirement asking annexing cities to provide equal services to the annexed areas as they do to their original territory. Some residents did not like the idea of the city annexing their community without the community’s consent.
In 1996 Thomas Phillips, a retired longshoreman and Bordersville resident, joined with representatives of Kingwood and sued the City of Houston in federal court arguing that the city could not legally annex areas if it did not provide certain services to some of its existing areas, including Bordersville which never had city water. Imad F. Abdullah, the President of Landmark Architects Inc., criticized the residents who fought annexation in his 1996 editorial in the Houston Business Journal, arguing that a “not in my backyard” mentality in particular communities overall negatively affects the entire metropolitan area. Houston annexed Kingwood at 11:59 PM on December 31, 1996, adding about 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) to the city limits.
Kingwood residents lobbied the Texas Legislature, asking for modifications to the state’s annexation laws. In 1999 the legislature successfully passed amendments requiring annexing municipalities to develop plans for services provided to communities being annexed, and municipalities are required to provide a three-year planning period prior to official annexation to allow for public comment. The modified law allows for communities to use arbitration if the annexing cities fail to follow through with their service plans. The amendments do not affect prior annexations, including Kingwood’s annexation. Some Kingwood residents expressed satisfaction that other suburban unincorporated areas including The Woodlands would not undergo the annexation that occurred in Kingwood.
A 1999 series of robberies were perpetrated by four teenage girls from Kingwood. The film Sugar & Spice was loosely based on the incidents.
In 2006, Kingwood had over 65,000 residents. During that year, ten years after the annexation, Lee said that “[a]nger and resentment that colored the early days of annexation” never dissipated and that most Kingwood residents “have settled in as Houstonians, but who still opposed annexation.” Lee said that while residents sometimes complain about high rates for sewer and water services and obvious inadequacies in the fire and EMS services, those residents believe that Kingwood “has greatly suffered from being a part of the city.” Lee says that most residents “will never come to terms with Houston’s hostile takeover.” Lee said that “Services have deteriorated, and the community has lost its identity as a suburban haven as most people had feared” and “Many residents believe the community has not maintained its identity as the Livable Forest[.]”
In 2017, Kingwood suffered evacuations and severe flooding from the after-effects of Hurricane Harvey. The flooding was aggravated by the San Jacinto River Authority’s decision to open floodgates.
Kingwood is thirty miles northeast of Downtown Houston in the piney woods of southeastern Texas. It is divided into neighborhoods called “villages”. Most villages have a neighborhood pool and playground providing free access for village residents, an elementary school, and most provide their own set of village-specific services. During the summer, many of the villages organize youth swimming teams affiliated with the Northwest Aquatic League (NWAL).
Trailwood is Kingwood’s oldest village, with its first homes being completed in 1971. While Kingwood is almost built out, there are some new homes still being built in Barrington, Royal Shores, and Woodridge Forest.
The villages of Kingwood include Barrington, Bear Branch, Deer Ridge Estates, Elm Grove, Fosters Mill, Greentree, Hunters Ridge, Kings Crossing, Kings Crossing Patio Homes, Kings Crossing XIV, Kings Forest, Kings Forest Estates, Kings Point, Kings River, Kingwood Glen, Kingwood Greens, Kingwood Lakes, Kingwood Place, Mills Branch, North Woodland Hills, Reserve at Kings Point, River Bend, Riverchase, Royal Shores, Sand Creek, Sherwood Trails, South Woodland Hills, Trailwood, Woodridge Forest, Woodspring Forest, and Woodstream. Nearby developments include Forest Cove, Kings Lake Estates, Lakewood Cove, North Kingwood Forest, Oakhurst at Kingwood, King’s Mill, and King’s Manor. Oakhurst does not pay Kingwood Service Association fees, though it is considered part of Kingwood and is also developed by Friendswood Development.
Kingwood is home to ClubCorp’s Kingwood Country Club. It is the largest private club in Houston and one of the biggest in the world, with over 3,300 members. The golf courses and clubhouses were used in the filming of the 1996 movie, “Tin Cup” starring Kevin Costner.
Kingwood has two community newspapers, The Tribune Newspaper and The Kingwood Observer.
As of 1999, about 90% of children raised in Kingwood attended colleges and universities.
Primary and secondary schools
Kingwood pupils residing in Harris County attend the Humble Independent School District. Kingwood High School (6A) and Kingwood Park High School (5A) serve the area. All students enrolled in Humble Independent School District also have the option to attend Quest High School, a magnet high school in Atascocita.
The 1996 annexation of Kingwood did not change school district boundaries nor did it change any attendance zones of individual public schools.
Students residing in Montgomery County attend the New Caney Independent School District. Residents of that portion attend Porter High School (5A). Before the opening of Porter High School in 2010, students attended New Caney High School. A small portion of North Woodland Hills, as well as the Kings Manor, Kings Mill, Woodridge Forest, and Oakhurst at Kingwood developments, are located in Montgomery County.
Kingwood is served by three Humble ISD middle schools: Kingwood Middle School, Creekwood Middle School and Riverwood Middle School. Kingwood Middle School students are zoned to Kingwood Park High School, while students attending Creekwood and Riverwood are zoned to Kingwood High School.
Middle school students in areas of Kingwood in New Caney ISD attend Woodridge Middle School. Sixth graders in New Caney ISD previously attended the New Caney 6th Grade Campus.
In addition to the high schools and middle schools, Kingwood is served by nine Humble ISD elementary schools: Foster Elementary, Woodland Hills Elementary, Deerwood Elementary, Willow Creek Elementary, Bear Branch Elementary, Greentree Elementary, Shadow Forest Elementary, Elm Grove Elementary, and Hidden Hollow Elementary.
Kings Manor Elementary School serves Kingwood New Caney ISD students.
Private schools in Kingwood include The Covenant Preparatory School (formerly Northeast Christian Academy) (PreK-12th), St. Martha Catholic School (PreK-8), Kingwood Montessori School (PreK-6th), Pines Montessori School (Toddlers – Middle School), and Christian Life Center Academy (PreK-12th).
The closest Catholic high school is Frassati Catholic High School in north Harris County; the planners of the school considered Kingwood to be in the area it serves. In addition St. Thomas High School, an all boys’ high school in central Houston, has a bus service from and to St. Martha Catholic School.
Colleges and universities
Lone Star College-Kingwood is a two-year community college that serves the area and it is part of the Lone Star College System.
Dedicated on August 12, 1983, the 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) original Kingwood Branch of the Harris County Public Library, had over 112,000 books. In partnership with the Houston Public Library, plans were made to replace the original branch with a new a “City-County” branch in exchange for 4.2 million dollars to fund the building of a new 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) facility. The original Kingwood Library location closed on March 13, 2010, and the new location opened on April 19, 2010. The demolished building was replaced by a new community center.
In addition to the Kingwood Library, and within Kingwood, there is also the Kingwood Community College library, which permits access for “currently enrolled students, high school students and adults living within the district, patrons of Montgomery County Memorial Library System, and college employees.”
Kingwood has over 500 acres (200 ha) of nature preserves and parks, and it has over 75 miles (121 km) of hike and bicycle trails. The parks and trails are owned by the Kingwood community.
The greenbelt trails’ maintenance is the responsibility of the trail association in each village with the exception of Trailwood Village. Over 75 miles (121 km) of greenbelts comb the area. In addition, each village association maintains a park and swimming pool for the benefit of its residents.
The area is also home to Kingwood Park, operated by the City of Houston, and East End Park, owned and operated by the Kingwood Service Association.
Kingwood Skate Park opened on May 21, 2004, a 5,402-square-foot (501.9 m2) City of Houston facility that has skate benches, a kinked round grind rail, skate benches, skate tables, a kicker ramb, a bank to stair with a rail, shade structures that include benches, a drinking fountain, a mini half pipe with a ninety degree hip, and a skateboarder-shaped bike rack. It was the first municipal skate park built by the city.
A 2.25-acre (9,100 m2) public dog park opened in 2007
The City of Houston operates the Dylan Duncan Memorial Park. It includes a picnic pavilion and a skate facility
Kingwood residents enjoy a number of community events throughout the year, including:
- Mardi Gras, held in February in the Town Center Park. It has a parade and vendor fair with open-air concert.
- Picnic on the Park, held the day before Easter in the Town Center Park, has an Easter Egg hunt open to children of all ages. The event also offers game booths, a vendor fair, and performances by local area groups.
- Auto Shows, held in spring and fall, often April and October, at Town Center Park. Typically draws up to 200 vehicles in a wide variety of categories.
- Fourth of July, has a parade between Creekwood Middle School and Kingwood High School; festivities in Town Center Park, and fireworks display with an open-air concert and vendor fair.
- Christmas in the Park, held in Town Center Park, is a vendor fair that features live performances from local groups. The day ends with a tree lighting ceremony in the park.