Better mobility drives growth to Tomball

June 26, 2015

The unprecedented growth and vibrant economy in Tomball and across northwest Houston were the hot topics at the 7th Annual Tomball Economic Outlook Luncheon at Lone Star College-Tomball.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the area within a 10 miles radius of Tomball has grown to a population of 413,000 in 2010 from 245,000 residents in 2000.

As of 2015, the population in the same 10 mile radius sits at approximately 485,000 – a 98 percent increase since 2000, said Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan.

“Tomball is growing, and it’s growing fast,” she said. Much of Tomball’s growth is the result of improved mobility, particularly with the recent completion of the first segment of Texas 249, from Spring-Cypress Road, north to the FM 2920 overpass. In March, more than 3,000 residents from the Tomball community showed up to stroll the toll when the first segment was opened to traffic.

“When we opened the toll road on a rainy Sunday afternoon, we had 3,200 people show up,” Fagan recalled. “They came. They walked in the rain and they jogged in the rain, and they drew on it with sidewalk chalk, just to say that they and their families were part of the great history of Tomball.”

The second and third segments, which will connect at FM 2920 and continue to FM 149 in Pinehurst, are in the planning stages and will begin construction in early 2016.

Along those same lines, the long anticipated Grand Parkway, which is under construction, will connect with U.S. 290 in Cypress and span 38 miles on its way through Tomball to Interstate 69 north of Kingwood.

Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said Tomball is becoming more and more connected to other communities as a result of mobility.

“Tomball is a prime example of that perfect place, where we are starting to connect Tomball with the world,” Cagle said. “I love it when a plan comes together.”

The completion of the first phase of Texas 249 was not expected to generate as much usage as it already has seen, he said. Within the first 90 days, the Harris County Tollroad Authority said as many as 30,000 motorists were already using the tollway daily, nearly double what was projected.

“Everyone said that number was way optimistic, because a lot of people take their time before they start to shift (their driving routes),” Cagle said.

Although mobility has been the driving force of growth in the city and region, companies are also relocating and expanding in the area. In April, Kelly Violette, executive director for the Tomball Economic Development Corp., announced that Canadian-based Packers Plus Energy Services would be relocating their Houston headquarters to the Tomball Business and Technology Park. Then in June, Coastal Power Systems announced they would be moving their headquarters, shop facility and shipping and warehouse spaces to the business park.

While the business park is beginning to take shape, retailers and restaurants also are seeing Tomball as an attractive destination. Earlier this year, the city hosted two public hearings to bring the Grand Parkway Town Center, a $500 million retail center, to the intersection of the Grand Parkway and Boudreaux Lane. City Manager George Shackelford said the development will generate as much as $80 million in sales tax revenue. Last year, the city issued 76 commercial construction permits to the tune of $13 million.

Building permits for residential construction have also skyrocketed in recent years. In 2014, the city issued 240 residential permits, amounting to $27 million in construction.

All of this development and growth is exciting for the city and northwest Houston, Fagan said. “Part of the reason this community is growing so rapidly is that people really do want to be here,” she said.