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State Prison Tracts Info Released


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They're finally releasing some details on Newland's development of the former state prison tracts! http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/business/3053187


Community to rise where inmates toiled

Developer wants Sugar Land project to have the tree-rich charm of Savannah


Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

A swath of Fort Bend County land that was once farmed by hundreds of Texas prisoners is set to become Sugar Land's newest master-planned community.

Newland Communities broke ground this week on the 2,018-acre development, which it says will be modeled after historic Savannah, Ga., with its landscaped neighborhood squares, shady liveoak trees, colorful gardens and fountains.

The project, dubbed Telfair, is named after one of the oldest oak-lined squares in downtown Savannah.

Scores of shade trees and flowerswill be planted for almost year-round displays of color, said Travis Stone, senior vice president of operations for Newland.

"I think we have somewhat similar climates," Stone said. "We don't have 100-year-old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging out of them, but we're going to plant them so maybe in the future that does happen."

The property is on U.S. 59 at University Boulevard just south of Texas 6.

Newland purchased the former prison farmland from the state for about $37.5 million in 2003.

Along with large subdivisions of single-family homes, Telfair will have a series of pedestrian-friendly "traditional neighborhood developments" that will blend a variety of housing styles with shops, restaurants and civic venues.

Anchoring the development will be a 16-acre traditional neighborhood surrounding the 1939 Central State Farm prison building, a Greek Revival-style structure that served as a dormitory during the site's early farming era.

Newland is studying ways to preserve the building for civic or commercial uses.

The San Diego-based company's other Houston projects include Greatwood, Cinco Ranch, Seven Meadows, Grayson Lakes, Eagle Springs and Summerwood.

Complete in 2011

Newland hasn't identified the builders that will be involved in the project, but it expects the first homes to be completed in the spring of 2006. If all goes as planned, Telfair will have up to 4,500 homes when it's completed in 2011.

The land is surrounded by such neighborhoods as Greatwood, First Colony and New Territory. Housing analyst Mike Inselmann of Houston-based Metrostudy said Telfair's Savannah theme will help set it apart.

"There are lots of communities along the highway, so differentiation is really important," he said.

Recreation in mind

The developer has set aside more than 400 acres for lakes, parks and recreational centers with swimming pools, tennis courts and playgrounds.

Some 390 acres fronting U.S. 59 and Texas 6 have been designated for commercial uses. Stone said medical groups, grocery stores and other retailers have already expressed an interest in this development.

The city of Sugar Land plans to buy 95 acres south of U.S. 59 and adjacent to the University of Houston System-Sugar Land for the Texas Energy Center, a proposed research center that will focus on clean energy and deep-water drilling.

Telfair, which was annexed by Sugar Land, is in the Fort Bend Independent School District.

The master plan reserves almost 100 acres for three proposed school sites, including two elementary schools and one high school campus.

Another parcel on block

There has been a spate of recent developments in Sugar Land.

Sugar Land Town Square, a Main Street-type project has been rapidly developing,and First Colony Mall hasbeen undergoing an expan-sion.

Last week, Imperial Sugar announced plans to sell its former sugar refinery site to a group wanting to develop aproject mixing condominiums, single-family homes and retail space on the 160-acreparcel.

And the state plans to auction off a tract nearby that's nearly as large as Telfair.

On Tuesday, the Texas General Land Office will open sealed bids for 1,942 acres of land near the Grand Parkway and the proposed extension of West Bellfort.

"Sugar Land's a good address," Stone said. "I think it has gotten to a point in its maturity that it can support a lot of what's going on."

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