Conroe - Montgomery Edition | July 2021

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

2021 R E A L E S T A T E E D I T I O N

ONLINE AT

VOLUME 7, ISSUE 4  JULY 16AUG. 19, 2021

Building costs still in flux as lumber prices cool off

BY EVA VIGH

When thepandemic hit the real estate market, one commodity in particular began making headlines: lumber. After shooting to historic heights in April, lumber prices began to plummet in June, although they still hover above pre-pandemic levels, according to data from Trading Economics, which provides historical data and forecasts for various commodity prices. Local developers and builders in the Conroe and Montgomery area said predicting project costs and timelines have been near impossible. When the pandemic hit, sawmills like Steely Lumber Co., located just north of Willis in Huntsville, initially reduced hours and cut back on pro- duction, Manager Chris Demilliano said. But demand for wood actually increased as distribution centers such as Home Depot and Lowes were deemed essential businesses, and Americans, forced to work from home, turned to home remodeling and reno- vations, he said.

Numerous homes are being built in Conroe andMontgomery despite the higher cost of materials. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

A CASE STUDY IN ECONOMICS

Low inventory coupled with high demand at the onset of the pandemic led lumber prices to rise sharply, aecting the supply chain.

Some local builders are experiencing a

Lumber makes up about

Lumber prices rose 365% from April 2020 to April 2021.

300%increase in project construction timelines.

14%-18% of the cost of a house.

SOURCES: “LUMBER AND TIMBER PRICE TRENDS ANALYSIS DURING THE COVID19 PANDEMIC” STUDY BY TEXAS A&M FOREST SERVICE, STEELY LUMBER CO., HOUSTON ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

CONTINUED ON 20

2021

REAL ESTATE EDITION

HOME IMPROVEMENT MARKET AT A GLANCE

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

Joe’s surgery is now in the rearviewmirror. We put it there.

Even before we meet one another, we know we have something in common. Because if you’re facing a neurological issue — you not only want compassion and technology, you want expert physicians with a never-give-in, never-give-up attitude. The kind of attitude that put Joe’s surgery in the rearview mirror, and put Joe back on the dance floor.

We’re The Woodlands Hospital, taking pride in changing destinies. Find out how at StLukesHealth.org/Neuro .

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMCHRISSY: This issue includes our annual Real Estate Edition starting on Page 15. The real estate market is seeing historically low inventory. It’s certainly a great time to sell and make top dollar on your home but very competitive to buy with such limited inventory. Inside, you will nd updates on development along with our front-page story, which dives into the rising cost of building supplies. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMANNA: It’s budget season for our local school districts, so we’ve included highlights from Conroe and Montgomery ISDs (see Page 12) alongside an update from Lone Star College on a potential new bachelor’s degree program. The school year will be here in a few weeks, so look for our next edition in mailboxes Aug. 20, featuring our annual Public Education Edition. Have an education idea? Share it at comnews@communityimpact.com. Anna Lotz, EDITOR

Our purpose is to be a light for our readers, customers, partners and each other.

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Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the latest headlines direct to your inbox. communityimpact.com/ newsletter DAILY INBOX Visit our website for free access to the latest news, photos and infographics about your community and nearby cities. communityimpact.com LIVE UPDATES

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Anna Lotz SENIOR REPORTER Eva Vigh REPORTER Chandler France GRAPHIC DESIGNER Ethan Pham ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Debbie Pfeer METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens

BUSINESS &DINING Local business development news that aects you

TRANSPORTATION &DEVELOPMENT Regular updates on area projects to keep you in the know

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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Large selection available: items from Adirondacks, tables, chaise lounges, gliders, deep seating sectionals, and much more. VISIT US IN EITHER STORE OR ONLINE. CALL WITHQUESTIONS OR TO PLACE ANORDER. 8 An American Furniture Warehouse is under construction at the intersec- tion of I-45 and River Plantation Drive, just south of Grand Central Park. The Colorado-based company’s selection of Conroe for the site of its next store was announced by the Conroe Economic Development Council in April 2020 with a grand opening targeted for the end of this year. The company plans to hire around 250 employees when the store opens and projects to grow employment to more than 400 at the store’s full maturity, according to the CEEDC. www.afw.com 9 Modern Chic Enhancements , a beauty supply boutique, will open Aug. 21 at 185445 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 105, Montgomery. The store will offer hair extensions, wigs, salon products, make- up, inspirational books and Bibles, and body-shaping suites, among other items. Modern Chic Enhancements also plans to partner with cancer centers to provide ing to city of Conroe permit records. Although the company could not be immediately reached for confirmation, a sign has been placed outside the location. The franchise sells a variety of health-conscious items such as bottled juices, smoothies and shots ranging from espresso to wheatgrass. An opening date has not been announced. www.mainsqueezejuiceco.com 7 PetBar , a self-service pet wash and spa, is opening a location at 449 S. Loop 336 W., Ste. 1300, Conroe, according to its website, although company represen- tatives did not respond to an inquiry ask- ing for an opening date. 832-536-4306. www.petbarinc.com

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NOWOPEN 1 Troy’s Donut opened a second loca- tion at 22453 W. FM 1097, Montgomery, in early June. The doughnut shop’s first location is off Hwy. 105 in Montgomery. The bakery also sells ice cream, kolaches and other treats. 936-582-1175. www.facebook.com/troysdonutsTX/ 2 Pura Vita Day Spa opened June 17 at 6511 Hwy. 105 W., Conroe. The spa offers facials, massages, waxes, lash tinting and lifting, oncology esthetics, whole-body cold therapy treatment, and LED light therapy. Anti-aging treatments, body wraps and IV therapy are also available at

the spa. 936-202-8575. www.puravitadayspaconroe.com 3 Weisner Automotive Accessories Supercenter is slated to open July 16, after press time, at 3502 W. Davis St., Conroe. The shop will offer services from wheels and tires, lighting, off-road bumpers, lift- ing and leveling of trucks, bed liners and window tint. 936-538-6000 4 The Lake Conroe Queen , a 60-pas- senger, double-deck paddleboat, opened for public and private cruises in mid-June. Sunset cruises are offered on Fridays and Saturdays from 7-8:30 p.m. with the possi- bility of expanding to Sunday from 5-6:30

p.m. as well. Guests can also book private parties. Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drink, and alcohol is permit- ted. Future plans may include lunch and dinner cruises with the owner of nearby Wolfies. The port is located at 14970 Hwy. 105 W., Montgomery. 936-444-5354 5 Texas Lakeside Auto , a used car deal- er, opened March 31 at 13924 Hwy. 105

W., Conroe. 936-267-4174. www.texaslakesideauto.com COMING SOON

6 Main Squeeze Juice Co. is coming to 15260 Hwy. 105, Montgomery, accord-

CONROE LOCATION

3416 FM 2920, Spring, Texas 77388 817-688-4018 2 miles West of I-45, between the 2 HEB’s SPRING LOCATION 14543 Hwy 105 W Suite 104, Conroe, TX 77304 832-521-5929 Near McCaleb Rd next to Rudy’s BBQ

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COMPILED BY EVA VIGH, BROOKE ONTIVEROS, ANDREW CHRISTMAN & ALLY BOLENDER

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Junkyard Fitness and Fighting Arts

Back in Time Popcorn

Crumbl Cookies serves a rotating menu of four different specialty cookie flavors each week.

COURTESY JUNKYARD FITNESS AND FIGHTING ARTS

COURTESY BACK IN TIME POPCORN

COURTESY CRUMBL COOKIES

FEATURED IMPACT WORTH THE TRIP Cookie lovers can soon satisfy their sweet tooth at a new bakery coming just southwest of Conroe. Crumbl Cookies will open a location in the Westwood Village shopping center, 33020 FM 2978, Ste. 521, Magnolia. The location will open during the rst week in August, according to Crumbl representatives. Since opening its doors three years ago, the company has expanded to over 200 bakeries in 32 states nationwide. Crumbl Cookies serves a rotating menu of four dierent specialty cookie avors each week. Flavors include FEATURED IMPACT NOWOPEN Fit Kitchen Meals opened July 5 at 4150 FM 1488, Ste. 132, Conroe, according to the owners. Fit Kitchen Meals sells various macronutrient- focused prepared meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Customers can preorder meals for pickup or shop for select meals available in store. Fit Kitchen Meals also sells apparel, drinks and supplements and rst opened in Louisiana in 2018. 504-494-0138. www.tkitchenmealswoodlands.com

wigs to patients who are losing their hair. The shop also plans to offer online ordering and delivery to patients unable to leave their homes. 936-449-1330 10 Junkyard Fitness and Fighting Arts , a full-service mixed martial arts and fitness academy, will open by Aug. 1 at 21360 Shannon Circle, Ste. C, Mont- gomery. The academy teaches mixed martial arts, self-defense, kickboxing and functional fitness for beginners and kids to experienced athletes. Owner and head coach Brandon Crick, who was a profes- sional fighter until 2009, said he will teach individuals the art of fighting and striking protocol. 972-802-5113. www.facebook.com/ junkyardfitnessandfightingarts 11 Just 4 Him Men’s Haircuts is opening a location at 40507 W. Davis St., Conroe, in August or September. The franchise barbershop offers men’s haircuts and grooming and accepts walk-ins. www.just4himhaircuts.com Fast-food chicken and biscuits company Bojangles has announced plans to expand into three Houston markets: Humble, Conroe and The Woodlands. Bojangles’ Humble location is slated to be the first to open, but no anticipated opening date or address has been provided for the Conroe

al location is estimated in about three to four months. In other news, the Conroe Old Republic Title also relocated from 3710 W. Davis St. to 4507 W. Davis St., Ste. 120, in June. 936-756-2070.

snickerdoodle cupcake, lemon glaze, semisweet chocolate chip, brownie sundae, sugar and milk chocolate chip. Cookies are boxed in the company’s signature pink packaging. Ice cream is also available in avors such as peanut butter chocolate and sea salt toee. www.crumblcookies.com

www.oldrepublictitle.com ANNIVERSARIES

13 Ark Church , located at 450 Hum- ble Tank Road, is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has gifted Lone Star Family Health Center a $5,000 donation, according to a June 14 news release from the center. Because of the donation, the health center is able to provide 200 visits at no cost at its Grangerland location. 936-756-1988. www.thearkchurch.com 14 TransMed Complex will celebrate its first anniversary in August. TransMed Complex, located at 2510 S. Loop 336 W., Conroe, takes a holistic approach to treating a range of conditions and needs, from hypnosis at the TransMed Center, which helps relieve fears or addictions, to custom medications and natural supple- ments at Roberds Pharmacy, according to TransMed representatives. The TransMed Complex is leasing vacant spaces on its second floor for like-minded practi- tioners. 936-441-8999. www.transmedcenter.com 15 Back In Time Popcorn , a popcorn store located at 2107 W. Davis St., Conroe, celebrated its fifth anniversary June 11. The store sells more than 60 flavors of gourmet popcorn such as peanut butter and chocolate, cookies and cream, Dr Pep- per and jalapeno ranch. 936-788-2676. www.backintimepopcorn.com

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site. www.bojangles.com RELOCATIONS

COURTESY FIT KITCHEN MEALS

HORSESHOE BEND.

12 Old Republic Title , an insurance company, is eying a new location in Willis, although an address has not been confirmed, according to Cathy Deaton, sales account executive of the Conroe branch. An opening date for the addition-

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

Data: Houston-area trac improves, still among region’sworst

State court win for Texas Central

ONGOING PROJECTS

hours each driver was delayed on the road, second nationally when it came to extra fuel wasted by trac conges- tion and fth nationwide in annual congestion cost per driver in 2020, according to the report. When comparing Houston’s trac data to its own from 2019, the delays and congestion costs improved. Drivers traveled fewer hours in 2020 than the year before. The annual congestion cost—which is a value of time and fuel spent in delays—also dropped from $1,635 per commuter in 2019 to $1,097 per commuter in 2020, according to the report.

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The Texas Supreme Court denied the review of a case June 18 that was part of a legal challenge rst launched by landowners Jim and Barbara Miles in 2016 against Texas Central, the company looking to build a 236-mile high-speed rail line connecting Houston and Dallas. The decision frees up Texas Central to use eminent domain, if necessary, to acquire tracts of land needed to construct the project. “The court’s denial of review should put an end to over ve years of contentious litigation and clear the path for Texas Central to bring the high-speed train to Texas,” Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a statement. In a statement, opposition group Texans Against High Speed Rail said it was disappointed in the denial of the review and that Jim and Barbara Miles would be ling a motion for a rehearing.

ANDERSON RD.

BY ANDY YANEZ

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A study released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute in June showed commuters in the Greater Houston area saw drastic decreases to their travel time, costs and stress levels in 2020. However, despite improving conditions locally, Houston ranked third in the nation in the number of

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF JULY 12. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. 2021-fourth quarter 2023 (1B) Funding sources: state, federal FM 1097 widening continues The Texas Department of Trans- portation continues its widening projects on two segments of FM 1097 in Willis. Segment 1A I-45 to Anderson Road was 89% complete as of June 28. Segment 1B from Anderson Road to Lake Conroe Hills Drive was 14% complete as of June 28. The two projects widen the stretch of road from two to four lanes with a continuous left-turn lane. Cost: $15.71 million (1A), $14.69 million (1B) Timeline: fourth quarter 2018-third quarter 2021 (1A); Feb. 2, from 1A 1B

WorkonFishCreekThoroughfaredeemedunacceptable

BY EVA VIGH

precinct will not be accepting the work performed on the overpass, although he did not elaborate why. “We are holding the contractor accountable for meeting the standards specied in the contract,” he said in the post. Riley’s oce declined an interview, stating the issue is under investigation.

A recently completed Montgomery County Precinct 2 project involving construction of an overpass across FM 2854 and the railroad tracks on Fish Creek Thoroughfare in Montgomery has come under investigation. In a Facebook post June 15, Com- missioner Charlie Riley stated his

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

WATER Groundwater decisions need more research, district says

STUDYING SUBSIDENCE

SUBSIDENCE: The gradual sinking of the earth that can be due to excessive groundwater withdrawals

The Lone Star Groundwater District is working on a study looking at subsidence in Montgomery County. The district is on the second phase.

BY EVA VIGH

The LSGCD claims this metric cannot be accurately calculated with existing equipment and restricts entities frommaking decisions best for their individual needs. “We take no issue with the rst DFC; it’s something we can measure; it’s an aquifer condition, and we believe it protects groundwater usage,” the LSGCD President Harry Hardman said June 23 to Conroe City Council. “We do, however, take big issue with the second DFC.” On, June 23, Hardman asked Con- roe City Council to consider adopting a resolution rejecting the subsidence metric. On July 8, council voted to approve the resolution. The LSGCD ocials claim it is di- cult to assess whether pumping from Harris County is aecting subsidence in Montgomery County, particularly in southern areas like The Woodlands, which is why it launched its own study

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, the entity tasked with regulating groundwater in Montgomery County, is advocating for more subsidence research before making regulatory decisions that aect the Gulf Coast Aquifer System. Subsidence refers to the gradual sinking of the earth that can be due to excessive groundwater withdrawals. Groundwater Management Area 14—which includes the LSGCD—is the entity tasked with voting on the region’s groundwater goal, known as desired future conditions, or DFCs. The LSGCD objects to the proposed goal for the aquifers, which was adopted by GMA 14 in April. The proposed DFCs includes a metric that would restrict districts within GMA 14 to no more than 1 additional foot of average subsidence between 2009 and 2080.

PHASE 1

Phase ran from July 2019 to August 2020. Consultants compiled past subsidence studies and assessed historical models.

PHASE 2 Phase was approved in June and will take no longer than 47 weeks. This phase develops a long-term plan for data collection and evaluation. PHASE 3 Phase involves site-specic investigations. No start date has been decided. PHASE 4 Phase involves land surface and geologic formation monitoring. No start date has been decided. (Current phase)

SOURCE: LONE STAR GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

focused solely on understanding pumping within Montgomery County. The LSGCD approved starting Phase 2 of the study in June, which is expected to be complete in 2022. However, the study will not be complete before a nal DFC statement will need to be approved by Jan. 5. “Moving ahead with this policy before the research is complete is

irresponsible to taxpayers,” Hard- man said. “We should be making policy based on research, not the other way around.” Not all entities agree with the LSGCD’s stance. During the April GMA 14 meeting, the LSGCD was the sole entity in favor of allowing districts to select their own DFCs that do not include a subsidence metric.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

NEWS BRIEFS

Veteransparktoreceive$7Mfromstate

Montgomery County oers to assist with border crisis

BY CHANDLER FRANCE

on this community and this county,” Edwards said. Edwards said the money will go toward funding a visitors education center and the main memorial on the north end of the park. Metcalf also announced the Texas Depart- ment of Transportation will be putting up signs on I-45 to direct visitors to the park. “It’s a great day for this park,” Metcalf said. “I can’t wait to see the [education center] and museum become a reality with these funds.” Edwards said the funding will help the park move up in state and national recognition.

Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Park will receive $7 million in state funding, state Rep. Will Met- calf, RConroe, announced in a press conference June 29. Metcalf said he was able to secure the funding through the budget process in the state Legislature. Jimmie Edwards, chair of the Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Commission, said he and the rest of the commission are “elated” at this announcement. “I’m never at a loss for words, but today I am because of the tremendous impact this will have Public feedback is wanted for the nearly $10 billion overhaul of I-45. WEIGH IN ON I45 Proponents say the highway is overdue for safety improvements and causes trac congestion and safety issues. Conroeplanningcity recreationcenter at oldYMCAbuilding Following its purchase of the Conroe Family YMCA building in March, the city of Conroe is planning to use the facility as a recreation center for the western portion of Conroe, according to the city’s public information ocer, Victoria Endsley. Conroe City Council agreed BY EVA VIGH SOURCES: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE LINA HIDALGOCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER To submit public feedback, visit www.txdot.gov/ inside-txdot/get-involved/ unied-transportation-program.html neighborhoods. The project would displace more than 900 residences, 300 businesses, ve places of worship and two schools. Opponents say the project will disrupt predominantly Black and Hispanic

BY EVA VIGH

Montgomery County has responded to a plea from Gov. Greg Abbott for jailers across the state to assist with border operations. On June 28, Abbott issued a call for assistance for border sheris with operating detention facilities and providing jail beds for those arrested for state charges related to the border crisis. Montgomery County Sheri Rand Henderson has agreed to send resources to the border if needed, according to a June 29 news release. The sheri’s oce is working on specics on how to best serve the border, according to the release. “The crisis at the border aects more than just those citizens who live along the border, but also the victims of human and drug track- ing organizations,” Henderson said. On April 26, Abbott sent a letter to county judges across the state, asking them to send an estimate of the scal eects of the border crisis on their respective counties. The state will use this information to request the federal government pay for these costs, according to a news release from Abbott’s oce. The eorts of county judges can be bolstered if they adopt a resolu- tion supporting the state for federal reimbursement. On May 25, Montgomery County commissioners approved a resolu- tion acknowledging the humani- tarian crisis at the border. Then, on June 29, commissioners convened to discuss a local disaster declara- tion to assess border security and the “ongoing public health crisis it poses to Montgomery County,” according to the agenda. However, commissioners voted to gather more information about the resources requested before agreeing to a mutual aid agreement. On July 13, commissioners approved funding not to exceed between $200,000-$500,000 for various law enforcement and county departments to use for overtime and other expenses related to the alleged rise in crime as a result of border insecurities, according to the county.

State Rep. Will Metcalf, RConroe, announced June 29 that $7 million will be given to the park.

CHANDLER FRANCECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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TxDOT reopenspublic comment period for I45project amid federal probe

BY EMMA WHALEN

TxDOT’s 10-year statewide plan for infrastructure projects, known as the Unied Transportation Plan, is revised annually. During this period ocials present the plan to the public and accept feedback. Texas Transportation Commis- sion ocials said the UTP comment period will be another opportunity to collect feedback on the I-45 project while it is on hold due to a Harris County-led lawsuit and a federal inquiry into potential Civil Rights Act violations. The UTP comment period began July 7 and will end Aug. 6.

Texas Department of Transpor- tation ocials are again accepting public comment on a nearly $10 billion overhaul of I-45 through much of Houston’s urban core. Proponents of the plan say the 1960s-era highway’s design is over- due for safety improvements and causes trac congestion and ood- ing issues. However, the project has been met with an increasingly high level of scrutiny. As proposed, the project would displace over 900 residences, 300 businesses, ve places of worship and two schools. March 11 to purchase the building at 10245 Owen Drive for $2.5 million. Since the purchase, the city has been in the due diligence phase and evaluating the grounds and facilities, Endsley said in an email. The due diligence period runs through July. A name for the building has not yet been chosen, she said. YMCA ocials said in March that the transaction was necessary after losing $50 million in revenue due to the pandemic. The YMCA is looking for a new Conroe location to eventually open at.

TheWoodlands Pride returnsOct. 30

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

The Woodlands Pride has announced its plans to hold an in-person festival Oct. 30 at Town Green Park, located at 2099 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands. According to a news release, the nonprot chose not to hold its annual festival in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns and wanting to give space to other organizations such as Black Lives Matter.

11

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Conroe & Montgomery ISDs & Lone Star College System

Bond projects move forward

$653.5 million bond referendum passed by voters in 2019. The referen- dum included $44.47 million in safety and security updates for CISD as well as other projects such as new buildings. The safety and security renova- tions at College Park High School, The Woodlands High School, Oak Ridge High School, York Junior High School, Armstrong Elementary School, Ride Elementary School and Creighton Elementary School are all on schedule and expected to be completed in August. of Science in emergency management. In addition to state approvals, LSC must also get program approval from its accreditation agency, the Com- mission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. “Building on the success of our three current bachelor’s degree programs, Lone Star College is ready to provide even more bachelor’s degrees for high-demand careers,” LSC Chancellor Stephen Head said in the release.

$43.14M has been allocated to CISD as of July for which a plan is being developed. 20% must be spent on learning loss. $64.71M is available to Conroe ISD through federal ESSER III funds through 2024.

Conroe ISD relief Federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds support the safe reopening of schools.

CONROE ISD Nine facilities in Conroe ISD are undergoing safety and security renovations, and they are expected to be completed for the 2021-22 school year, according to information shared at the June 15 board of trustees meeting. The facilities are funded by a BY ALLY BOLENDER Additional bachelor’s programs approved LONE STAR COLLEGE Following the signing of Texas House Bill 3348 into law June 16, Lone Star College plans to submit a proposal to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that would allow it to offer a Bachelor BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

SOURCE: CONROE ISD/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

$64.7M in relief funds slated for Conroe ISD

BY ALLY BOLENDER

members is working on submitting the application for the ESSER III grant award by late July. The ESSER III funds can be used until 2024, officials said. Information was collected from a public survey of CISD employees and students with responses on how to spend ESSER III funds. Based on the responses, the most preferred interventions include after-school tutorials, summer school and targeted small groups, according to CISD information. “We not only want to recover lost learning, [but] we don’t want to look up and see gaps re-emerging with our kids,” Hines said.

CONROE ISD As of July, Conroe ISD has been allocated $43.14 million from the third round of federal Elementary and Secondary School Relief funds, or two-thirds of the total $64.71 million it is eligible for, Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines said July 6. ESSER funds are provided to state educational agencies and school districts to help safely reopen. CISD intends to use the funds to respond to the pandemic and to address student learning loss in the 2020-21 school year, district officials said. A task force of 73 community

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

QUOTEOFNOTE

Montgomery ISD adopts balanced, $79.5Mbudget

Trustees approved several additional raises in October and April. From the 2020-21 school year to the start of the 2021-22 school year, teachers will have received about a 7% total pay increase with other employee groups receiving a 5% raise. The first-year teacher salary also increased from $51,000 to $54,450. Throughout the school year, Lynn and MISD Superintendent Heath Morrison held town hall meetings with district staff and stakeholders to solicit feedback from the public and provide updates. “This in some ways [is] the most boring thing that we should be presenting to this year and the most exciting,” Morrison said. “It’s the most exciting because it’s the budget; it reflects our priorities; it reflects how we have been entrusted by the community to use the resources on behalf of our students and staff. ... It’s the most boring thing because there should be absolutely nothing that you have not seen, heard, had an oppor- tunity to provide input for, and quite frankly, anyone in the community has had multiple opportunities to provide input, and that is by design.” The next steps are to adopt a tax rate, which will occur in August or September, district officials said.

EDUCATIONHIGHLIGHTS CONROE ISD District officials in Conroe ISD said since virtual schooling did not make it to the state legislative session, CISD families with students enrolled in its planned virtual school will no longer have that option for the 2021-22 school year. The virtual schooling is on hold for now as it may return in the 2022-23 school year and remains in the budget. CONROE ISD In a unanimous vote, the teaching training center located at the Woodforest Bank Stadium complex on David Memorial Drive will be named the Walter P. Jett Training Center. The maximum price for the facility approved by the board in October was $15.55 million, and it is on track to be finished by spring 2022, officials said. “WE NOT ONLYWANT TORECOVER LOST LEARNING, [BUT] WE DON’TWANT TO LOOKUPAND SEE GAPS RE-EMERGING WITHOURKIDS.” CHRIS HINES, CONROE ISD DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT

BY EVA VIGH

MONTGOMERY ISD For the past year, the Montgomery ISD board of trustees has made balancing the district’s spending and improving employee salaries a priority. At its June 29 meeting, the board adopted a balanced, $79.5 million budget for the district’s upcoming fiscal year, which began July 1. The budget includes $79.5 million in district general fund revenue and $79.3 million in spending. Local funding makes up the bulk of MISD’s general fund revenue at 84.59%; state funding makes up 13.65%; and federal funding accounts for 1.76%, said Kris Lynn, MISD assistant superintendent of finance and operations. The adoption of the budget also finalizes the raises approved by trustees in a recent district com- pensation plan, which included $3.8 million in salary and stipend increases across employee groups, according to an MISD news release.

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$1.19

The projected tax rate in Conroe ISD based

Property tax rate drop eyed in Conroe ISD

on preliminary certified property values in the district could be $1.19 per $100 valuation. This is based on expected increases in the property value base. After values are certified July 25, CISD can make a final tax rate determination. House Bill 3, signed into law in 2019, compresses tax revenue and requires districts receiving additional tax revenue from rising property values to reduce their tax rates to keep year- to-year revenue the same, aside from increases due to changing enrollment. MEETINGSWE COVER Montgomery ISD board of trustees Will meet Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. at 20774 Eva St., Montgomery

Tax rate projection

As property values in the district grow, the tax rate is expected to drop in Conroe ISD.

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CONROE ISD Public hearings on the Conroe ISD tax rate for fiscal year 2021- 22 will be held Aug. 3 and 17, but the preliminary budget shows a possible tax rate decrease, according to CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice. Certified property values in the district are expected to reach $42.13 billion in FY 2021-22, a 5% increase. That would mean a tax rate decrease of $0.02 to $1.19 per $100 valuation. A higher amount of prop- erty value growth could mean further reductions to the tax rate, Rice said. The current tax rate is $1.2125 per $100 valuation. All district employees will receive a 3% raise in FY 2021-22, according to the preliminary budget, but bus drivers will receive a 5% raise. The budget will not be recom- mended to the board until after

Current Projected FY 2021-22 Tax rate (per $100 valuation)

$1.2125 $1.19

5%

Expected property value growth:

SOURCE: CONROE ISD/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

a July 14 District-Level Planning and Decision-Making Committee meeting, but following that public hearings will be held Aug. 3 and Aug. 17, Rice said. The expected revenue for FY 2021- 22 is $585.99 million, and expected expenditures are $595.99 million, which can be offset with $10 million in COVID-19 relief funding, Rice said, to create a balanced budget.

936-276-2000 www.misd.org

Conroe ISD board of trustees Will meet Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. at 3205 W. Davis St., Conroe 936-709-7752 www.conroeisd.net

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

2021 R E A L E S T A T E E D I T I O N MARKET AT AGLANCE

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ

The Conroe and Montgomery area has seen home sales increase year over year in all eight ZIP codes for a 12-month period as homes have also sold more quickly during that time in all local ZIP codes.

LAKE CONROE

77318

77356

149

45

77303

MONTGOMERY

105

CONROE

MARKET DATA PROVIDED BY JAMIE BECHTOLD THE JAMIE BECHTOLD GROUP 15949 HWY. 105, STE. 51, MONTGOMERY 8329802705 JAMIEJAMIEBECHTOLD.COM

77304

77316

77306

77301

77302

N

NUMBER OF HOMES SOLD June 2019-May 2020 June 2020-May 2021

AVERAGE DAYS ON THEMARKET

June 2019-May 2020 June 2020-May 2021

100

-12.5%

-13.04%

-72.84%

-18.18%

374

+22.99%

460

-15.38%

-36.59%

-33.33%

-48.84%

80

60

266

+59.02%

423

40

20

202

+63.37%

330

0 77301

77303

77306

77318

77302

77304

77316

77356

850

+33.41%

Although 30-year and 15-year xed-mortgage rates declined during the heart of the pandemic in 2020, they have since risen in the early months of 2021. NATIONALMORTGAGE RATE DATA

1,134

181 58

+212.07%

30-year xed-rate mortgage

15-year xed-rate mortgage

5%

790

+42.41%

1,125

4%

351

3%

+78.06%

625

2% 0

772

+56.09%

January 2018

January 2019

January 2020

January 2021

1,205

SOURCE: FREDDIE MACCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

7519 Red Bay Circle, Magnolia, Texas 77354

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15

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

DEVELOPMENT BRIEFS

Updates on communities around Conroe, Montgomery & Willis

Peach Creek Farms nearly sold out inWillis BY CHANDLER FRANCE

30OF 32 lots had been sold in Peach Creek Farms as of mid-June.

Peach Creek Farms is located in Willis within the Sam Houston National Forest with all but two lots sold as of mid-June, said Jonathan Eller, CEO of ET Capital Investments, the developer for the project. Eller said Willis is attractive for the project because it is away from what he called the “hustle and bustle” of Houston. Prospective homeowners can buy 1- to 5-acre plots of land in the commu- nity starting at $40,000 an acre, according to the community’s website, and choose to build a “barndominium” or farmhouse or buy a traditional move-in-ready home. Custom barndominiums— one option for landowners—can contain three bedrooms, a bunk room, an outdoor replace and kitchen, high ceilings and open spans, all made from a steel frame. “Once you see one, they just have a ‘wow’ factor. You can accomplish things you just can’t do with a regular stick-and-brick or site-built home,” Eller said. Eller enlisted the help of Stacee Lynn, a designer known as the “barndo lady,” to help design some of the homes in the community. Lynn said as people from the city have begun moving into the suburbs, more people are looking to have extra space. “Where country property used to be not as sexy, now everyone wants a little bit of elbow room,”

Lynn said. Lynn said she is designing six of the homes in the community. She said she has seen a large demand for barndominium homes not only in Texas, but also across the country. “People are looking for something dierent,” Lynn said. “They’re looking for something that’s stylish, that’s energy ecient [and] lowmaintenance.” Eller said he noticed the demand, too, which is why he said he reached out to Lynn to help him create Peach Creek Farms. Lynn said Eller reached out to her in February, and they began selling lots that month. Of the 32 lots in the community, 30 had been sold as of mid-June, Eller said. Eller said he and his company are developing ve other barndomini- um-friendly communities in places such as Conroe and Austin. “Pretty soon you’re going to be seeing barn- do-exclusive communities [and] barndo-friendly communities like ours all over the place,” Eller said.

Barndominiums are steel-structured homes featuring high ceilings. (Rendering courtesy Stacee Lynn)

3081

N

Peach Creek Farms is a barndominum-friendly community inWillis. (Courtesy Stacee Lynn)

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16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

2 0 2 1 R E A L E S T A T E E D I T I O N

Constructioncontinueson TheWoodlandsHills BY EVA VIGH The Woodlands Hills is a growing, mas- ter-planned community developed by The How- ard Hughes Corp. and located near I-45 just north of Conroe. When fully built out, the community is projected to have a population of 14,900 with 112 acres of open space; 20 parks; a church; 5,284 residential units, including 554 apartments and assisted-living units; and over 1.8 million feet of nonresidential space, including commercial, retail and hospitality space. As of late June, The Howard Hughes Corp. reported 520 homes had been sold with build-out anticipated within 10 years.

1,200-acreage-restricted communitytodebut in2022 BY BROOKE ONTIVEROS Chambers Creek, set to be the largest age- restricted active-adult community in the Greater Houston area, will open in summer 2022 in Willis with more than 3,000 patio homes on a nearly 1,200-acre property. With the median age in Willis ISD about 40, Population and Survey Analysts, a demographic tracking organization, anticipates 6% of upcoming housing in Willis over the next 10 years will be age restricted, according to a 2021 report. Representatives with Caldwell Cos., the rm behind Chambers Creek, said they aim to ll the need for retirement communities, elding interest from across the nation and the state. “It’s people from California and Arizona and up north, and we denitely think Chambers Creek has the ability to [attract residents] not just locally within the Houston market,” said Jennifer Symons, the vice president of marketing at Caldwell Cos.. “There’s a huge relocation eort to Texas right now. People are seeing the value of living in Texas, and especially Houston has so much to oer.” As Chambers Creek’s opening approaches, the development’s waitlist shows an “overwhelming

105

Chambers Creek is under construction in Willis.

45

1097

N

RENDERING COURTESY CALDWELL COS.

interest,” Symons said. Demand for age-restricted communities is also projected to grow as the baby-boom generation transitions to retirement, Symons said. Chambers Creek will oer houses designed for residents downsizing with sizes ranging from 1,500-3,500 square feet and prices starting from the low $300,000s. Homeowners association fees will cover front-lawn care. The gated community will feature a golf course designed by professional golfer Tom Lehman, more than 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, and several lakes for shing and boating, Symons said. Chambers Creek will also employ a lifestyle director to plan events for the community. “We compare it to a cruise ship director,” Symons said. “You wake up that morning [with] an activity list of what else is going on that day, and it’ll be a similar vibe.”

45

The Woodlands Hills will feature 5,284 residences.

830

TERALYN WOODS PKWY.

N

Coming Fall 2021 Sweet home. Sweet life.

Welcome to life on your terms – away from the hustle and bustle of city life and right in the heart of small-town community charm. Enjoy stylish, open-concept design. Control cutting-edge tech from LivingSmart® all from your smartphone. And do whatever makes you happiest – whether that’s stepping-up your game at the fitness center or kicking-back in our resort-style pool. This is the life at Westridge Cove – right here in Conroe – where home sweet home is sweeter because it’s yours.

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The prices of our homes, included features, plans, specifications, promotions/incentives, neighborhood build-out and available locations are subject to change without notice. Stated dimensions, square footage and acreage are approximate and should not be used as a representation of any home’s or homesite’s precise or actual size, location or orientation. There is no guarantee that any particular homesite or home will be available. No information or material herein is to be construed to be an offer or solicitation for sale. Not all features and options are available in all homes. Unless otherwise expressly stated, homes do not come with hardscape, landscape, or other decorator items. Any photographs or renderings used herein reflect artists’ conceptions and are for illustrative purposes only. Community maps, illustrations, plans and/or amenities reflect our current vision and are subject to change without notice. Maps not to scale. Photographs or renderings of people do not depict or indicate any preference regarding race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, familial status, or national origin. Builder does not warrant the suitability of any trail for any use or for any person. Our name and the logos contained herein are registered trademarks of Tri Pointe Homes, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. © 2021 Tri Pointe Homes Texas, Inc. All rights reserved.

17

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JULY 2021

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