Katy, TX News (April 7, 2015) – Courtesy of the Katy Area Economic Development Council – The Katy Development Authority continues to pursue its goal of launching a convention center/hotel development next to Katy Mills Mall. Center plans include a boardwalk that will surround the mall’s 80-acre retention pond. “We hope it will be a nice attraction to the area in addition to the mall,” said former Katy mayor Skip Conner, chairman of the Katy Development Authority.
The authority, which acts on behalf of the city to develop Katy Mills, is in final negotiations with Simpkins Group – developer of The Park of Katy Mills – to purchase 10 to 15 acres for the project.
The Park of Katy Mills is a mixed-use development intended for office, research and development, medical, high tech and light industrial uses, along with retail and entertainment venues and will surround Katy Mills Mall.
If all progresses smoothly with the city’s land purchase there, construction of the convention center could get under way in the next 1½ to 2 years. Construction on the boardwalk probably would begin sooner, according to Conner.
Katy City Council voted Jan. 26 on an extension to the tax increment reinvestment zone formed for Katy Mills mall.
City documents show that the city’s and Fort Bend County’s participation in the zone was set to end Dec. 31, 2018. With action Monday, the life of the zone is extended to Dec. 31, 2038 for the city. Katy Mills mall was paid off in 2013, said Kayce Reina, Katy’s director of tourism, marketing & public relations, and so officials wanted to extend the TIRZ to help fund the boardwalk and convention center.
“In approving the extension of the TIRZ, we don’t have to do the boardwalk,” she said, though that is the plan. “It’s funding mechanism for the (KDA) board.”
Reina said many other steps need to be taken and noted that Fort Bend County also is involved. Once the TIRZ is extended, Reina said the next step would be to purchase the land.
The convention center, estimated at approximately $10 million, and the boardwalk, estimated at $1.75 million, would be covered by tax revenue from the mall – approximately $3½ million a year – and hotel taxes. Katy’s boardwalk will not resemble the tourist attraction in Kemah, Conner noted.
“It will be like a park area,” he said. “It won’t be a bird sanctuary, but it will attract more birds. The land has been in a raw state for 18 years, so it has been home to wildlife.” The authority is hoping to attract a commercial developer to add an upscale hotel to the site, Conner said.
Commercial developers already are interested in the Katy Mills Mall area.
The area’s growing population and business community have attracted several hotel developments. Newcrest Image LLC of Dallas, for instance, is building a Homewood Suites by Hilton at 25495 Katy Mills Parkway. The 121-room facility is expected to open in 2015.
Also under construction near Katy Mills are a Country Inn and Suites, Four Points Sheraton and Courtyard Marriott.
Demand for hotel rooms also is being fueled, in part, by PetroSkills, an oil and gas training company near Katy Mills that draws professionals from around the globe to its one- and two-week training sessions.
Additional projects are coming to the area as well. Less than one mile from Katy Mills, construction recently was completed on Legacy at Falcon Point, an 82-unit assisted living and memory care development by PinPoint Commercial LP at 1520 Katy Gap Road. The luxury development includes a movie theater, spa, restaurant, fitness center and sports bar.
Under construction now near the mall is Cane Island, a 1,000-acre master-planned community at Interstate 10 and Cane Island Parkway near Grand Parkway. The community is scheduled to open in mid-2015. Home prices will range from the $200,000s to millions.
Another possible addition to the area is a semi-professional theater and performing arts school. Noyes Fine Arts Foundation is seeking ground funding now for the facility, which would be established near the mall.
The mall already is a major destination for Katy and attracts about 11 million visitors each year, said Lance LaCour, CEO/chairman of the Katy Area Economic Development Council.
The city’s growth and the additions to the mall area only will enhance visitors’ interest, he said. “We’re just very pleased to see the development happening.”
“Katy Mills Mall is experiencing some positive changes of its own, Conner said, “the mall came under new ownership during the last several years, and they’ve been rejuvenating it inside and out.”
The mall, which opened in 1999, has more than 175 stores and continues to grow. An H&M clothing store opened in August, and the mall gained Steve Madden and Shoe Palace stores in September. Conner expects development around the mall to continue.
“It no longer is a sleepy giant here. It’s awakened and is attracting attention. We’re going to do as much as we can do to control it and move it in a positive direction,” Conner said.