The Woodlands, Texas
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 statistical area. The Woodlands is primarily located in Montgomery County, with portions extending into Harris County. In 2021, The Howard Hughes Corporation estimated the population of The Woodlands was 119,000. At the 2010 U.S. census, its population was 93,847, up from 55,649 at the 2000 U.S. census.
The Woodlands, Texas
Top to bottom, left to right: The Woodlands Town Center, The Woodlands Waterway, Town Center, The Woodlands College Park High School, Waste Connections
The Woodlands in Montgomery and Harris counties
|• Board of Directors||Gordy Bunch (R) (Chairman) |
Bruce Rieser (Vice Chairman)
Ann Snyder (Secretary)
John Anthony Brown (Treasurer)
|• General Manager||Don Norrell|
|• Total||43.9 sq mi (113.6 km2)|
|• Land||43.3 sq mi (112.1 km2)|
|• Water||0.6 sq mi (1.5 km2)|
|Elevation||160 ft (50 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,649/sq mi (1,022.8/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1867568|
The Woodlands is located 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 Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Huntsman Corporation, Woodforest National Bank, Baker Hughes, McKesson Specialty Health, and Halliburton. The community won a Special Award for Excellence in 1994 from the Urban Land Institute and in 2021 was rated the #1 "Best City to Live in America" by Niche.
Foundation and growth
The Woodlands was conceived after the oil industry investor George P. Mitchell attended a symposium by the Rouse Company subsidiary American City Corporation and developer of Columbia, Maryland on how to develop new towns using the HUD Title VII program. It was dedicated by George P. Mitchell in 1974 and managed by The Woodlands Corporation as an extension of Mitchell Energy & Development. Mitchell, an oil businessman, planned to establish a conference center, hotels, office parks, retail malls, schools, large distribution centers, and golf courses. Houses would range from moderately priced to expensive and large. Bill Schadewald of the Houston Business Journal said that Mitchell wanted the development to "entice city slickers looking for far-flung suburban quality of life". Schadewald said that local sources stated that the HUD New Town program, a federally funded program, had a "low survival rate" and questioned whether The Woodlands would succeed.
The Woodlands Corporation was acquired on July 31, 1997, by a partnership between Morgan Stanley and Crescent Real Estate Equities. In December 2003, 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.
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.
Incorporation as a city
Mitchell's original plan was for The Woodlands to be annexed by the city of Houston. In the middle part of the 2000s, 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 The 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 allows an opportunity for The Woodlands to incorporate itself until 2057. Since 2019, there has been formal discussion of The Woodlands to become an incorporated city. However, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these plans were put on hold and resumed in April 2021. In 2020, residents of The Woodlands formed the TownshipFuture PAC.
The Woodlands is primarily in Montgomery County, Texas, with a small portion in Harris County, bordering Houston. According to the United States Census Bureau, The Woodlands has an area of 43.9 square miles (113.6 km2), of which 43.3 square miles (112.1 km2) are land and 0.58 square miles (1.5 km2), or 1.32%, are water.
The Woodlands is in a heavily forested area, and much of the community has retained trees for shade and decoration. The terrain is essentially flat, with the exception of topographic variations ranging from 125 to 175 feet above sea level between Spring Creek and Flintridge Drive.
The Woodlands is organized into eight 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. The Town Center includes shopping and eating facilities, corporate offices, and a waterway modeled after the San Antonio River Walk. The Research Forest district includes a Park and Ride facility and The Woodlands Township Town Hall.
- Alden Bridge
- Cochran's Crossing
- College Park
- Creekside Park
- Grogan's Mill
- Indian Springs
- Panther Creek
- Sterling Ridge
The Woodlands has a humid subtropical climate, typical to the Southeast Texas region and Greater Houston. Temperature ranges are within the top decile for census-designated places in the United States. Winter daily highs average approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15C), daily lows 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4C); summer daily highs average 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34C), daily lows 72 (22C) degrees Fahrenheit. It is part of Wind Zone 2 per the FEMA mapping chart.
The racial makeup of The Woodlands in 2010 was 88.4% white (non-Hispanic and Hispanic or Latino), 2.4% Black or African American, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 4.9% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2.1% two or more races, 12.3% Hispanic or Latino, and 78.5% white alone, not Hispanic or Latino.
As of 2017[update] about 10% of the residents of The Woodlands were of Mexican origins; they numbered at over 10,000. In 2000, wealthy Mexicans began buying houses in The Woodlands for vacation purposes. Large numbers settled in The Woodlands from 2006 to 2014 as the Mexican Drug War occurred. By 2006 the numbers of middle and upper class Hispanics and Latinos, including Mexican nationals, increased. Some of the residents were assigned to Houston by their companies. Some of them moved to The Woodlands to escape increased crime and political tensions from the Mexican presidential election and find better schools for their children.
At the 2013–2014 school year, 22% of the students at Conroe Independent School District elementary and junior high schools in The Woodlands were Hispanic or Latin American. This was an increase from 10.5% in the 2005–2006 school year, and the percentages grew particularly in Glen Loch, Lamar, and Tough elementary schools. The 2013-2014 percentage in Conroe ISD schools in The Woodlands was below the overall Conroe ISD Hispanic average of 34.2%.
The Hispanic and Latin American community has Viva! The Woodlands Magazine, a Spanish language magazine that covers The Woodlands, as well as the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Many churches in The Woodlands area have some services in Spanish.
In 2000, there were 55,649 people, 19,881 households, and 15,546 families. The population density was 2,328.4 people per square mile (900.5/km2).There were 21,014 housing units at an average density of 897.7 per square mile (346.6/km2). The racial makeup was 92.36% White, 1.75% Black, 0.29% Native American, 2.80% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.43% from other races, and 1.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28% of the population.
There were 19,881 households, out of which 47.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.2% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.8% were non-families. 19.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.21. At the 2000 U.S. census, 31.8% were under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.9 males; for every 100 females age 18 and over there were 88.5 males.
The median income for a household was $85,253, for a family $98,675. Males had a median income of $78,642 versus $38,505 for females. The per capita income was $37,724. About 3.0% of families and 4.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.0% of those under age 18 and 10.6% of those age 65 or over. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household had risen to $94,626, for a family to $113,243.
As of 2018[update], The Woodlands United Methodist Church had about 13,000 members in its congregation. 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 1,500 in 2014. As of 2018[update] 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[update] it had 3,800 families in its congregation. St. Anthony of Padua, another Catholic church, had 3,020 families in its congregation in 2006, and 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 reformed. 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 Hanukkah 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.
By 2000, a significant amount of corporate office space was under construction. Of the 4,800,000 square feet (450,000 m2) of office space under construction in Greater Houston, over one third was in The Woodlands.
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, Huntsman Corporation, 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 several 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 was planned to 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 village 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 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.
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.
The Woodlands Township is a special-purpose district created by the 73rd Texas Legislature in 1993, and is run by a seven-member board of directors who are elected directly by the residents of the township in an at large election, for two year staggered terms. Even though The Woodlands is not a city nor a traditional township government, it still provides limited municipal government services such as trash pickup, parks and recreation, covenant enforcement, fire and rescue services, streetscaping, economic development, and enhanced law enforcement and security patrols.
United States Postal Service post offices include The Woodlands Post Office at 9450 Pinecroft Drive and the Panther Creek Post Office at 10800 Gosling Road.
Law enforcement in Montgomery County is provided by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Highway Patrol. The Harris County portion is covered by Harris County Constable Precinct #4.
The Brazos Transit District runs two transit services in The Woodlands: The Woodlands Express, which provides commuter service to Houston from park and ride lots in The Woodlands, and the free daily Waterway Trolley.
Most students in the Montgomery County portion attend schools in the Conroe Independent School District. Children residing in the May Valley neighborhood in Sterling Ridge Village attend schools in the Magnolia Independent School District. Children from the Creekside Park Village in Harris County attend the Tomball Independent School District. Montgomery County Memorial Library System operates two libraries in The Woodlands, the South Branch and the George and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Library. Most schools have the honored rank of an exemplary school, the highest school ranking in Texas. Texas students are administered the STAAR test, a review of general knowledge, which can determine students' promotion to the next grade level.
Primary and secondary schools
The Woodlands College Park High School, which opened in 2005, serves the eastern portion of The Woodlands in Montgomery County. TWCP was ranked 382 on Newsweek's 2012 list of America's Best High Schools. Refer to the Conroe School District for specific feeders. Magnolia High School serves pupils residing in May Valley, and Tomball High School serves pupils residing inside the Harris County portion.
- Junior high schools
- Montgomery County: Knox Junior High School, McCullough Junior High School
- Harris County: Creekside Park Junior High School
- John Cooper School
- The Woodlands Preparatory School
- The Woodlands Christian Academy
- St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School (K-8)
The closest Catholic high school is Frassati Catholic High School in north Harris County; the planners of the school intended for it to serve 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.
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