Welcome Home to the Woodlands
The Woodlands is a master planned community and census-designated place (CDP) in the U.S. state of Texas in the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. It is primarily located in Montgomery County, with portions extending into Harris County. In 2018, the Howard Hughes Corporation estimated the population to be 116,278. The Woodlands is 28 miles (45 km) north of Houston along Interstate 45. Though it began as an exurban development and a bedroom community, it has also attracted corporations and has several corporate campuses, most notably Chevron Phillips Chemical, Huntsman Corporation, Woodforest National Bank, Baker Hughes, McDermott International, McKesson Corporation, Aon plc, Maersk Line, Safmarine, and Halliburton. It won a Special Award for Excellence in 1994 from the Urban Land Institute.
The Woodlands Corporation was acquired on July 31, 1997, by a partnership between Morgan Stanley and Crescent Real Estate Equities. In December 2003, The Rouse Company acquired Crescent’s interest, and Rouse was bought by General Growth Properties on November 12, 2004. In 2011 The Woodlands was sold to the Howard Hughes Development Corporation.
The land was previously occupied by the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Mill, hence Grogan’s Mill and Cochran’s Crossing neighborhoods, called “villages”. The original planning utilized many of the planning concepts and design consultants employed in other well-regarded new communities of that era such as Columbia, Maryland, Irvine Ranch, California and Reston, Virginia. The original development plan included environmental design principles espoused by Ian McHarg, a distinguished landscape architect, teacher and author of the seminal work Design With Nature.
It continues to grow residentially and commercially as many companies are moving there. In addition to Chevron Phillips, Huntsman Corporation, Hewitt Associates, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Maersk, M&S Engineering and Woodforest National Bank have set up operations. The Town Center includes shopping and eating facilities as well as a waterway resembling the San Antonio River Walk.
On September 13, 2008, it sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Ike. Sustained winds of 85 mph (137 km/h) brought down thousands of trees, powerlines, and billboards in the area and severely damaged the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Ike was the first hurricane to directly affect the area since Hurricane Alicia in 1983.
The summer of 2011 brought an unprecedented drought throughout Texas, which caused thousands of trees to die and requiring they be taken down, a process that continued into 2012.
In 2011, Schadewald said “Now: Obviously, The Woodlands had quite a future. Somewhere between First Colony and The Woodlands, I realized why visionary real estate developers strike it rich more often than skeptical real estate reporters.”
In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau designated the area around The Woodlands and Conroe as a “large urbanized transit area”, defined as having over 200,000 residents, making it eligible to receive federal transportation funds.
From 2004-2018, water taxis known as “Waterway Cruisers” traveled along The Woodlands Waterway. On November 13, 2018, after suffering damage from Hurricane Harvey the year before, the six Waterway Cruisers were removed from the waterway.
Mitchell’s original plan was for The Woodlands to be annexed by the city of Houston. In the middle part of the 2000s (decade), some residents feared such an annexation, as had happened to the Kingwood development almost a decade before. To counteract any possible move by the city, a movement began to create an independent city government. However, the formation of an independent government would require authorization by the State of Texas and the City of Houston, as Houston held extraterritorial jurisdiction over the area.
In 2007, two state legislators representing Woodlands, Sen. Tommy Williams and Rep. Robert Eissler, introduced two bills that were enacted in the 2007 Legislature – House Bill 4109 and Senate Bill 1012. HB 4109 called for a vote to allow expansion of an existing improvement district (now The Woodlands Township) and to allow The Woodlands to collect sales tax, while SB 1012 allowed for the creation of regional agreements between governments. The passage of these bills allowed an opportunity for The Woodlands to incorporate itself.
On February 11, 1999 Anadarko Petroleum announced that it would purchase a 7.5-acre (30,000 m2) tract from The Woodlands Land Company, to build a 800,000-square-foot (74,000 m2), 32-story headquarters building, to open in mid-2002. As of 2000 the Anadarko building was the largest office project in The Woodlands.
In January 2012, Anadarko announced the imminent construction of a sister tower on site, 31 stories high, of which ten will be for parking. According to a press release from the company, site work had already begun and construction of the tower would be complete by 2014. The building is at the corner of Woodloch Forest Dr and Lake Robbins Dr. With its completed sister tower, Hackett Tower is the tallest building in Montgomery County and between Houston and Dallas.
Chicago Bridge & Iron’s (CB&I) worldwide administrative office was in The Woodlands. In 2018 McDermott International, which acquired CB&I, announced that it would sell the headquarters facility in The Woodlands to Howard Hughes Corporation.
In 2000, work began on a 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) building for Maersk Sealand.
In 2011, ExxonMobil announced plans to construct a new complex on a 385-acre plot of land near the intersection of the Hardy Toll Road and Interstate 45, which is in the Houston ETJ and might be annexed by Houston. About 10,000 employees in the Houston area will relocate to the campus starting in 2014, with full occupancy by 2015.
Other companies based in The Woodlands include Woodforest National Bank, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, McKesson Corporation, Tetra Technologies, Rigaku, Cleaning Solutions, and Kroger Texas.
Many wealthy Mexicans who settled in The Woodlands due to rising crime in Mexico had also established businesses in The Woodlands.
The Woodlands offers many entertainment venues including two movie theaters, over 150 restaurants, a publicly accessible waterway, dancing waterfalls with music, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, summer home of the Houston Symphony and catering for many large acts (rock bands to classical). The Woodlands Waterway will eventually be more than 1/2 mile long, reaching from The Woodlands Mall around to Lake Woodlands and with wide, lighted sidewalks along both sides. Sixteen Art Benches line The Woodlands Waterway and are popular places to rest on a stroll down The Waterway. Other attractions include Market Street, an old style “Main Street” pedestrian shopping district, home to a movie theater and a variety of shops and restaurants. The Woodlands Mall borders the waterway and is adjacent to Market Street, forming a large pedestrian-friendly shopping district. Each of the “villages” in The Woodlands has its own shopping center with a core grocery store and shops, banks, gas, restaurants, etc. Every April, The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival draws 220 juried artists from around the world to the Woodlands Waterway for a fine arts festival. The Woodlands Arts Council uses proceeds from the festival to provide year round arts enrichment programs and events.
The city is also home to a renowned community concert band officially known as “The Woodlands Concert Band”. The band was established in 2001 and is currently the host of the Bayou City Community Band Festival. They perform annually at the Independence Day celebration at Market Street. Current membership of the band range from 75 to 85, made up of both amateur and professional musicians. Repertoire for the ensemble includes Classical, Patriotic, and Contemporary. On July 25, 2015, the Band gained acclaim by performing under the direction of world-renowned composer Frank Ticheli, at the 2015 Texas Band Masters Association Convention in San Antonio at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. In December of 2019, the band accepted an invitation to perform at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. Only two community bands in the world were selected for this prestigious recognition by the board of this international band and orchestra convention. As of 2009, the group has been under the direction of Paul Worosello.
As of 2016 there were almost 50 centers of worship in The Woodlands, occupying a total of 330 acres (130 ha) of land. As of 2011, the community is majority Christian.
As of 2018 The Woodlands United Methodist Church had about 13,000 members in its congregation and was led by pastor Ed Robb. It was established in 1978. Pastor Kerry Shook established Fellowship of The Woodlands Church, now known as Woodlands Church, in 1993. Its permanent church building opened on August 19, 2001. Church Project, which holds services in a former Kroger, had an average weekly attendance of 1500 in 2014. As of 2018 Christ Church United Methodist has about 3,000 members. Circa 2012 Covenant United Methodist Church began its worship services at Timber Creek Elementary School, and by 2016 bought 5 acres (2.0 ha) of land near the entrance of Village of Creekside Park for a permanent 700-seat facility. On December 25, 2001, the Korean Community Church in The Woodlands, with Presbyterian Korean-language services and non-denominational English services, opened. It opened to serve ethnic Koreans in The Woodlands, Conroe, Huntsville, Kingwood, and Spring. Other Protestant or Non-denominational Christian churches in The Woodlands include Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Unity of The Woodlands.
Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Parish, the first Catholic church in The Woodlands, was established circa 1980, with its 400 parishioners initially meeting at Knox Junior High School before moving into its permanent building in 1981. As of 2013 it had 3,800 families in its congregation. St. Anthony of Padua, another Catholic church, had 5,700 families in its congregation in 2013. It operates St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School.
There are two Jewish places of worship, traditional and reform. Congregation Beth Shalom, established circa 1984 led by Rabbi Edwin C. Goldberg, has about 175 families, and is affiliated with Reform Judaism. Its affiliated organizations are the Association of Reformed Congregations and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Chabad of The Woodlands was established in 2011 by Rabbi Mendel and Leah Blecher. It is a branch of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement, offering traditional-style services to contemporary Jewish families. Chabad of The Woodlands inaugurated and sponsors the annual Chanukah on Market Street celebration, and established the first Jewish preschool in the area.
In 2011, there were 350 Hindu families in The Woodlands. In a 15 year period ending in 2011, the Hindu population in the Woodlands increased by 300%, and Kate Shellnut of the Houston Chronicle stated that according to “Hindu leaders” every year the Hindu population in The Woodlands grows by 20 to 25 families. The Hindu Temple of The Woodlands, a Hindu temple serving the northern part of Greater Houston, was scheduled to open in 2010. Another Hindu temple, Char Dham Hindu Temple, was founded by Surya Sahoo.
Masjid al-Ansaar (Woodlands Islamic Center) of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) was created in 2009, and in 2019 it had 300 parishioners. It is in an unincorporated area outside of The Woodlands CDP.
The Woodlands has an amateur radio club and repeater. There are 199 licensed amateur radio operators in the town.
Over the course of 2007, producer Frank Eakin wrote and produced a film entitled The Bracelet of Bordeaux, which became the first film to be shot completely in The Woodlands. The cast and crew were largely composed of local residents, and the film itself was part of a larger effort on Eakin’s part to generate interest in using The Woodlands and Houston as shooting locations for major motion pictures. Following its completion, the film was heavily promoted in the local press and at area businesses, leading to its world premier at The Woodlands High School. The film was generally not well received, and no further attempts have been made to bring the film industry to The Woodlands.
Colleges and universities
Lone Star College (originally the North Harris Montgomery Community College District) and Sam Houston State University-The Woodlands Center serve the community. The territory in Conroe ISD joined the community college district in 1991, and the territory in Tomball ISD had joined the district in 1982. The headquarters of the Lone Star College System are located in The Woodlands and in unincorporated Montgomery County, Texas. The district moved to its current location on March 17, 2003. Our Lady of the Lake University, a private non-profit university based in San Antonio, moved its Houston Campus to The Woodlands in 2011.
The Woodlands is organized into ten villages, which are subdivided into neighborhoods. Each village features varying amenities including parks, hike and bike trails, golfing, commercial centers, and a range of residential properties from single family to estates.
- Alden Bridge:
- Established in 1995. Named after Alden Bridge in Benton, Louisiana.
- Approximately 7,000 homes and 18,000 residents
- Commercial centers: Alden Bridge Village Center, Windvale Village Center
- Major parks: Alden Bridge Park, Alden Bridge Sports Park, Lakeside Park, Windvale Park
- Cochran’s Crossing:
- College Park:
- Creekside Park:
- Grogan’s Mill
- Established in 1972. Named for the former Grogan-Cochran Lumber Mill.
- Approximately 5,100 homes and 13,000 residents in 22 neighborhoods
- Estate neighborhoods: Grogan’s Point, Wilding Estates
- Commercial center: Grogan’s Mill Village Center
- Location of The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center, The Woodlands Sports Park, The Woodlands Country Club Oaks Clubhouse
- Major parks: Sawmill Park, Tamarac Park
- Golf Course: Oaks Golf Course, Panther Trail Course
- Indian Springs:
- Panther Creek:
- Established in 1976. Named for the creek that runs through the village.
- Approximately 3,600 homes and 12,000 residents
- Estate neighborhoods: Windward Cover, West Isle, The Cove
- Commercial centers: Panther Creek Professional Plaza, Panther Creek shopping Center
- Location of McCullough Junior High School, Lake Woodlands
- Major parks: Creekwood Park, Northshore Park, Ridgewood Park, Southshore Park
- Research Forest:
- Established in 1990.
- A science, technology, and biomedical research park
- Location of Molecular Health, Opexa Therapeutics, KBI Biopharma, Innospec Oilfield Services, VGXI
- Major parks: Venture Tech Park, Gosling Sports Fields
- Sterling Ridge:
- Established in 2000. Named after the 25th Anniversary of The Woodlands founding.
- Approximately 2,500 homes and # residents
- Estate neighborhood: Carlton Woods, named after Carlton Gipson (golf course superintendent)
- Commercial center: Sterling Ridge Village Center
- Location of The Woodlands High School-Ninth Grade Campus.
- Major parks: Artist Grove Park, Carlton Woods Park, Cranebrook Park, Terramont Park
- Golf courses: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player
- Town Center:
- Established in 1989. Approximately 1,000 acres.
- Approximately # homes and # residents.
- Estate neighborhood: East Shore
- Location of downtown. Features Market Street, The Waterway District, The Woodlands Mall, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2,000 hotel rooms, and 900 businesses.
- Major parks: Lakes Edge, Evergreen Park, Olmstead Park, Town Green Park