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Lifecycle of Master Planned Communities


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Reading through another thread on Sharpstown's history I started wondering if there's a typical lifecycle for a master planned community. I suspect Sharpstown was the place to be at the time it was built but now, 50 years or so on, it's a whole different place. Are the current crop of master planned communities like Cinco Ranch, First Colony, The Woodlands et al destined to suffer the same fate as the Houston metro either grows out and newer developments are built further out or condenses due to permanently rising gas and transportation costs?

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As long as Metro stays out of the communities then I would say no.

So you're saying no matter how old these communities get and no matter how many newer communities are built they're going to continue to draw middle and upper middle class residents as long as Metro doesn't serve them? Are the buyers of tomorrow not going to be interested in buying new homes the way they are now? Is it really Metro service that doomed Sharpstown?

Personally I would have thought a high density of apartments was more of an indicator.

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consider that sugarland and the woodlands have several major employers as opposed to a mall only. also, the freeway system and the ease of driving further out for cheaper "custom" (sarcasm) homes have facilitated the growth of sugarland and the woodlands. if a new era of rail were to come about, allowing people to live even further out, easily, these communities might suffer. in addition, i do not see the available land around beltway 8 and the grand parkway, disappearing too rapidly (well, if we are talking fifty years though....). as much as our population is increasing, we have considerable room to grow close in (less than an hour), especially on the northeast side and due south.

of course, communities focusing on corporate investment and lifestyle improvements could become new city centers themselves spawning further out suburbs; smaller master planned communities are popping up within 20-30 minutes from the woodlands. surely, the woodlands as a job center is a factor. add 3 million square feet for exxon south of the woodlands and i do not see the woodlands going the way of sharpstown in my lifetime. sharpstown was new when i was a kid and went downhill by the time i was in my twenties.

i do not think sugarland or the woodlands will go the way of sharpstown, certainly not in less than twenty years......fifty? i don't know.

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Reading through another thread on Sharpstown's history I started wondering if there's a typical lifecycle for a master planned community. I suspect Sharpstown was the place to be at the time it was built but now, 50 years or so on, it's a whole different place. Are the current crop of master planned communities like Cinco Ranch, First Colony, The Woodlands et al destined to suffer the same fate as the Houston metro either grows out and newer developments are built further out or condenses due to permanently rising gas and transportation costs?

The Woodlands is 37 years old and Sugarland is 34. Do you see any sign of impending decay in either of those communities?

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The Woodlands is 37 years old and Sugarland is 34. Do you see any sign of impending decay in either of those communities?

for the woodlands, there are decaying homes in older neighborhoods, but the values are stable and people are remodeling/upgrading. the infrastructure continues to be maintained/upgraded. the school are good/for the most part

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As sprawl continues and more importantly, if even larger communities are developed on an outward path away from The Woodlands, Katy and Sugar Land, I think a decline could very well happen within todays most popular master planned communities. Future residential developments built further out could ultimately drive down home prices in Sugar Land, Cinco Ranch, Katy; etc, as tomorrows home buyers choose to reside in these newer developments further outside the city. This decline has already happened or is in the process of happening to certain areas inside Beltway 8 and portions along FM 1960. I also believe a fully built Grand Parkway will only further erode areas closest to it as it becomes more and more congested with traffic and the ever popular miles of strip centers are built along it. As for the extent of the decline, that remains to be seen.

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That to but I don't think they would bother to build cheap apartments if there was no public transportation. Kind of a catch 22.

Nope. There's no catch at all. It's simply that you're wrong.

Pasadena had declined due to many apartments and an aging housing stock before it had public transportation. And even now, METRO's only involvement is a modest P&R route (of the same variety that serves Cinco Ranch). Harris County Transit was created to pick up the slack.

Moreover, new market-rate apartments get built without any expectation that tenants will need or want public transit; and they aren't built to be cheap; they become cheap. Tax Credit apartments are also built in the far-flung suburbs all the time, with or without transit.

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Yes. Those things aren't built to last any more than the latest luxury apartment complex. They build them to go up fast and be affordable. The intent isn't for them to last for 200 years. If it's not made of brick, steel, or stone, it has a shorter shelf life no matter how many "upgrades" you put in it.

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Yes. Those things aren't built to last any more than the latest luxury apartment complex. They build them to go up fast and be affordable. The intent isn't for them to last for 200 years. If it's not made of brick, steel, or stone, it has a shorter shelf life no matter how many "upgrades" you put in it.

Nope. That's not true, either. Most of the apartments on the southwest side of town are clad in brick, yet manage to suck anyhow. It's tempting to blame crap developers and slumlords, but this stuff mostly just has to do with external factors.

Edited by TheNiche
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Those of you old enough to remember the early 80s should recall that the apartments that sprang up in southwest Houston were all the rage back then. Those apartments were the newest, most luxurious apartments in Houston. They were located near a burgeoning shopping and business area called the Galleria...even closer than the Woodlands businesses are to their residents...and were every bit as popular as Midtown is today. The oil bust and subsequent real estate bust gutted those apartments of tenants. Rents plummeted, and lower income tenants arrived. The spiral began.

While the Woodlands and Cinco Ranch specifically may not decline spectacularly, smaller neighborhoods nearby may. The 2010 Census already shows that the outer ring suburbs are gaining lower income residents as inner city Houston gains upper income ones. If this trend continues...and as more businesses located in the suburbs, there is no reason to believe it won't...there will be Sharpstown style suburbs all around Houston. In fact, some parts of the FM 1960 area, Greenspoint. and Fort Bend County already have them.

As the Woodlands incorporates and takes over services currently provided by the developer, parts of that area will decline. There will be pressure to keep tax rates reasonable, and upkeep on roads, sidewalks, landscaping and other infrastructure will be scaled back in order to keep the tax rates at a reasonable level. The oldest parts of the Woodlands will begin to decay as its housing stock pushes past 40 years old. It is inevitable. It has happened in cities, and will happen in suburbs.

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Nope. That's not true, either. Most of the apartments on the southwest side of town are clad in brick, yet manage to suck anyhow. It's tempting to blame crap developers and slumlords, but this stuff mostly just has to do with external factors.

It's still true, you just add that brick (or stone or steel, for that matter) can be done equally as crappy as any other materials. What I was thinking of were places I've been in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, or Dublin. Old, made of stone, and done right the first time. There were definitely crappy stone buildings built 400 years ago too, but those aren't still around.

Location is something that I think is required for these mass-developments to be in it for the truly long run. If you find yourself saying "damn, it' s way out there, but it's nice", then my bet would go with it being pretty slummy in 100 years.

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It is inevitable. It has happened in cities, and will happen in suburbs.

I agree with parts of your analysis, but I don't agree that decay is inevitable in all cases. Both The Woodlands and Cinco have strong centralized HOA that are really there to specifically prevent the type of decline that you mention, because I would expect that these areas understand that a large part of their appeal is reducing the risk that crappy development will occur in the immediate neighborhood.

Your argument is that since early planned communities declined, more recent planned communities are destined to decline as well. Wouldn't you expect that more recent developments might have learned something from those experiences?

BTW, I lived for a number of years in Irvine, California which like The Woodlands, was one of the early planned communities and has not suffered the type of decline that you reference.

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I agree with parts of your analysis, but I don't agree that decay is inevitable in all cases. Both The Woodlands and Cinco have strong centralized HOA that are really there to specifically prevent the type of decline that you mention, because I would expect that these areas understand that a large part of their appeal is reducing the risk that crappy development will occur in the immediate neighborhood.

Your argument is that since early planned communities declined, more recent planned communities are destined to decline as well. Wouldn't you expect that more recent developments might have learned something from those experiences?

BTW, I lived for a number of years in Irvine, California which like The Woodlands, was one of the early planned communities and has not suffered the type of decline that you reference.

i think this is true. grogan's mill is the oldest neighborhood in the woodlands and homes are being completely renovated.

houses in the woodlands in disrepair are targeted by the residential design committee and forced to upgrade; there is even a fund for homeowners who cannot afford to do minimum exterior maintenance. these safeguards are outside the domain of the woodlands development company and will stay in effect after the development company is gone.

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Those of you old enough to remember the early 80s should recall that the apartments that sprang up in southwest Houston were all the rage back then. Those apartments were the newest, most luxurious apartments in Houston. They were located near a burgeoning shopping and business area called the Galleria...even closer than the Woodlands businesses are to their residents...and were every bit as popular as Midtown is today. The oil bust and subsequent real estate bust gutted those apartments of tenants. Rents plummeted, and lower income tenants arrived. The spiral began.

While the Woodlands and Cinco Ranch specifically may not decline spectacularly, smaller neighborhoods nearby may. The 2010 Census already shows that the outer ring suburbs are gaining lower income residents as inner city Houston gains upper income ones. If this trend continues...and as more businesses located in the suburbs, there is no reason to believe it won't...there will be Sharpstown style suburbs all around Houston. In fact, some parts of the FM 1960 area, Greenspoint. and Fort Bend County already have them.

As the Woodlands incorporates and takes over services currently provided by the developer, parts of that area will decline. There will be pressure to keep tax rates reasonable, and upkeep on roads, sidewalks, landscaping and other infrastructure will be scaled back in order to keep the tax rates at a reasonable level. The oldest parts of the Woodlands will begin to decay as its housing stock pushes past 40 years old. It is inevitable. It has happened in cities, and will happen in suburbs.

And I'm pretty sure the single-family homes in Sharpstown have been increasing in value in recent years, as they are nice houses. Having Strake and St. Agnes is also a plus for Sharpstown, as well as being near Chinatown. People seem to only associate those apartments as the only thing in Sharpstown.

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i think this is true. grogan's mill is the oldest neighborhood in the woodlands and homes are being completely renovated.

houses in the woodlands in disrepair are targeted by the residential design committee and forced to upgrade; there is even a fund for homeowners who cannot afford to do minimum exterior maintenance. these safeguards are outside the domain of the woodlands development company and will stay in effect after the development company is gone.

Clearly not all of them, and perhaps not even that many of them. Grogan's Mill has plenty of homes priced under $120,000. Some are actually even under $100,000. Additionally, while taxing districts may observe boundaries, decay and decline do not. Sharing a border with the Woodlands is TimberLakes/TimberRidge, an increasingly deplorable community. Homes in disrepair in TL/TR are NOT targeted by a residential design committee, and are NOT eligible for repair funds. But, they are still adjacent to the Woodlands.

Plus, the HOAs will largely disappear when the Woodlands incorporates. Perhaps the deed restriction committees will survive, but not the funding from residents. Only a few HOAs have chosen to remain in force.

The point is this. The residents of the Woodlands, for better or worse, have chosen to be a full fledged city. That requires full city services, paid by full city taxes. Just upgrading police and fire protection to the minimum levels of a city of 100,000 people will be a significant expense. Yet, the current budget dedicates one third of its revenue toward parks, more than it does for police and fire protection. When residents decide that they want more police protection than 0.77 officers per 1,000 residents (Houston is at 2.53 per 1,000), what do you think will happen to that bloated parks budget?

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the complete renovations i'm referring to are occurring in neighborhoods along north millbend; south millbend, not so much. proximity to town center is a key factor. the fact that lower priced homes exist in grogan's mill does not prove anything.

timber lakes/timber ridge is irrelevant to the discussion; however, the north/south corridor connecting the woodlands to the exxon campus will intersect sawdust a mile or less from the entrance to timber lakes/timber ridge. once cheaper homes are not available near the freeway, the homes under $100,000 in or near the woodlands town center/exxon campus will benefit.

how does anyone know for sure the associations will disappear? aren't there strict home owner's association in the houston city limits?

not sure how the tax and public safety costs are relative to the impending decline of the woodlands.

it seems that the woodlands is still a new kid on the block (after 37 years) topping statewide sales records even during the economic downturn. at some point, the woodlands has to be discussed outside typical comparisons of bedroom communities. like the woodlands or not, decline is not in its near future.

like an earlier post suggested, perhaps we've learned something since the sharpstown version of suburbia. i think people (some of them) and developers (some of them) are beginning to see the benefits of live/work/play and are demanding/incorporating these ideals into new communities in order to sustain them.

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the complete renovations i'm referring to are occurring in neighborhoods along north millbend; south millbend, not so much. proximity to town center is a key factor. the fact that lower priced homes exist in grogan's mill does not prove anything.

timber lakes/timber ridge is irrelevant to the discussion; however, the north/south corridor connecting the woodlands to the exxon campus will intersect sawdust a mile or less from the entrance to timber lakes/timber ridge. once cheaper homes are not available near the freeway, the homes under $100,000 in or near the woodlands town center/exxon campus will benefit.

Lower-priced homes are accessible to lower-income households. All these new apartments are, too. So are Timer Lakes and Timber Ridge. And they all feed students to the same public schools as The Woodlands. Each of these pressures are a threat to the socioeconomic system that has historically made The Woodlands attractive and desirable.

One of the factors that had been fueling the growth of The Woodlands had been the steady decline of schools in Spring ISD. The Exxon campus will be located in Spring. Do you think that that'll reverse Spring's fortunes? (It's not even as though all these Exxon employees don't already work in north Houston.) If not, then how can you say with a straight face that it'll stave off decline in The Woodlands?

it seems that the woodlands is still a new kid on the block (after 37 years) topping statewide sales records even during the economic downturn. at some point, the woodlands has to be discussed outside typical comparisons of bedroom communities. like the woodlands or not, decline is not in its near future.

If I headed up the Woodlands Development Co., I would also be developing and/or selling off the remaining acreage as quickly as is reasonably possible, thereby cashing in on a brand that will be irrelevant to me upon buildout. I'd abandon the principles that made the development great in the first place, like the preservation of trees and limitations on the number of apartment units. Whatever it takes to unload the inventory! And I'd be bragging about the volume of transactions as though it were an indication of overwhelming demand rather than the panicked exit from the market of a big player.

like an earlier post suggested, perhaps we've learned something since the sharpstown version of suburbia. i think people (some of them) and developers (some of them) are beginning to see the benefits of live/work/play and are demanding/incorporating these ideals into new communities in order to sustain them.

Yeah sure, tell that to the people that have moved into the western portions of The Woodlands.

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Lower-priced homes are accessible to lower-income households. All these new apartments are, too. So are Timer Lakes and Timber Ridge. And they all feed students to the same public schools as The Woodlands. Each of these pressures are a threat to the socioeconomic system that has historically made The Woodlands attractive and desirable.

One of the factors that had been fueling the growth of The Woodlands had been the steady decline of schools in Spring ISD. The Exxon campus will be located in Spring. Do you think that that'll reverse Spring's fortunes? (It's not even as though all these Exxon employees don't already work in north Houston.) If not, then how can you say with a straight face that it'll stave off decline in The Woodlands?

If I headed up the Woodlands Development Co., I would also be developing and/or selling off the remaining acreage as quickly as is reasonably possible, thereby cashing in on a brand that will be irrelevant to me upon buildout. I'd abandon the principles that made the development great in the first place, like the preservation of trees and limitations on the number of apartment units. Whatever it takes to unload the inventory! And I'd be bragging about the volume of transactions as though it were an indication of overwhelming demand rather than the panicked exit from the market of a big player.

Yeah sure, tell that to the people that have moved into the western portions of The Woodlands.

didn't say exxon would stave off decline in the woodlands. i said "once cheaper homes are not available near the freeway, the homes under $100,000 in or near the woodlands town center/exxon campus will benefit.". the spring school district is irrelevant to the discussion.

how many exxon employees are from fairfax? how many of these employees "already live in north houston"?

"Movement is also stirring in Virginia, where some 7,000 former Mobil Corp. employees in Fairfax could be part of the local consolidation.Mobil moved corporate headquarters from New York to the Fairfax campus in 1987, prior to merging with Exxon.

According to the Washington Business Journal, Exxon employees in Virginia reportedly told real estate sources there that the company has been moving senior-level employees from the 130-acre Fairfax campus to Texas." - exxon story link

more pertinent to this discussion would be how the woodlands is like sharpstown or greenspoint. can you contrast/compare the woodlands, cinco ranch, sugarland to other outgrowths of development which have suffered decline?

were greenspoint or sharpstown ever the home of the houston symphony? did greenspoint or sharpstown have one of the world's most successful outdoor entertainment venues (5th out of 100....in the world)? did greenspoint or sharpstown ever garner international attention or united nations awards? did greenspoint or sharpstown become cities? recognized private schools? continued growth for 37 years? continued investment in infrastructure and civic organizations?

take what you want out of context and poo poo on disnified suburbia if you will, this ain't no sharpstown, or even sugarland.

just for the sake of argument, what time frame would you naysayers give the woodlands before it's demise? ten years after build out? 2022? 2032? should i start looking at land in madisonville already?

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didn't say exxon would stave off decline in the woodlands. i said "once cheaper homes are not available near the freeway, the homes under $100,000 in or near the woodlands town center/exxon campus will benefit.". the spring school district is irrelevant to the discussion.

how many exxon employees are from fairfax? how many of these employees "already live in north houston"?

"Movement is also stirring in Virginia, where some 7,000 former Mobil Corp. employees in Fairfax could be part of the local consolidation.Mobil moved corporate headquarters from New York to the Fairfax campus in 1987, prior to merging with Exxon.

According to the Washington Business Journal, Exxon employees in Virginia reportedly told real estate sources there that the company has been moving senior-level employees from the 130-acre Fairfax campus to Texas." - exxon story link

more pertinent to this discussion would be how the woodlands is like sharpstown or greenspoint. can you contrast/compare the woodlands, cinco ranch, sugarland to other outgrowths of development which have suffered decline?

were greenspoint or sharpstown ever the home of the houston symphony? did greenspoint or sharpstown have one of the world's most successful outdoor entertainment venues (5th out of 100....in the world)? did greenspoint or sharpstown ever garner international attention or united nations awards? did greenspoint or sharpstown become cities? recognized private schools? continued growth for 37 years? continued investment in infrastructure and civic organizations?

take what you want out of context and poo poo on disnified suburbia if you will, this ain't no sharpstown, or even sugarland.

just for the sake of argument, what time frame would you naysayers give the woodlands before it's demise? ten years after build out? 2022? 2032? should i start looking at land in madisonville already?

I have not compared The Woodlands to Sharpstown or Greenspoint.

Earlier, I compared it to Westbury and Garden Oaks/Oak Forest, and I stand by those comparisons. Those neighborhoods have endured many of the negative influences of aging apartment complexes and lesser neighborhoods at their periphery (which makes the schools that they're zoned to suck), but the housing stock itself is intact and in decent condition in spite of demographic turnover from an aging population.

That said, Red had a point about looming budget issues. The Woodlands has all these amenities because they are maintained and subsidized by a developer (a benevolent but self-interested dictator) with a business model that has a lit fuse attached. When the developer's inventory is depleted, those amenities will be a hot potato. The extremely conservative voting base in The Woodlands will no doubt rail against high taxes but will want much more police protection. Red is correct that the amenities will likely suffer. If he's wrong, then it's just that the tax rate will be among the highest in the Houston region; but that would hurt desirability, too.

There's another factor at play in the western reaches of The Woodlands. Smaller, lower-priced homes, on smaller lots with few trees. And it takes them an ungodly amount of time to get to or from the freeway during rush hour. With these subdivisions in the mix, it may not even be the older housing stock that is the first to decline, but it will hurt The Woodlands brand. And just wait until you've got a few high-profile crimes on your hands. (And here we are, going back to Red's point about the police budget.)

I can't really give you a timeline for any of this. There are too many factors subtly at play. I would predict stagnation rather than an out-and-out bust, with some neighborhoods within The Woodlands faring better than others.

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I have not compared The Woodlands to Sharpstown or Greenspoint.

Earlier, I compared it to Westbury and Garden Oaks/Oak Forest, and I stand by those comparisons. Those neighborhoods have endured many of the negative influences of aging apartment complexes and lesser neighborhoods at their periphery (which makes the schools that they're zoned to suck), but the housing stock itself is intact and in decent condition in spite of demographic turnover from an aging population.

That said, Red had a point about looming budget issues. The Woodlands has all these amenities because they are maintained and subsidized by a developer (a benevolent but self-interested dictator) with a business model that has a lit fuse attached. When the developer's inventory is depleted, those amenities will be a hot potato. The extremely conservative voting base in The Woodlands will no doubt rail against high taxes but will want much more police protection. Red is correct that the amenities will likely suffer. If he's wrong, then it's just that the tax rate will be among the highest in the Houston region; but that would hurt desirability, too.

There's another factor at play in the western reaches of The Woodlands. Smaller, lower-priced homes, on smaller lots with few trees. And it takes them an ungodly amount of time to get to or from the freeway during rush hour. With these subdivisions in the mix, it may not even be the older housing stock that is the first to decline, but it will hurt The Woodlands brand. And just wait until you've got a few high-profile crimes on your hands. (And here we are, going back to Red's point about the police budget.)

I can't really give you a timeline for any of this. There are too many factors subtly at play. I would predict stagnation rather than an out-and-out bust, with some neighborhoods within The Woodlands faring better than others.

my frail attempt to stay on topic made the easy "comparisons" to sharpstown and greenspoint. my bad.

i agree that the mass produced new neighborhoods in creekside and sterling ridge, clear cut!!, and crammed together........miles away from activity centers could be the areas that suffer most as the woodlands brand wanes...in the future....at some point, perhaps.

regardless of the potential increases in taxes, the economic "town center effect" (that would be "the woodlands town center" specifically) will certainly prolong the lifespan of the eastern half of the woodlands......don't you think? if exxon's move doesn't bring thousands of home buyers as many people are hoping, doesn't the area appear to have staying power, regardless? when commercial leasing agents are landing retail tenants who do not expect to profit, but want to have their name represented in the woodlands, doesn't that represent more staying power as a "suburb" than a tiny area like garden oaks? houses on north timber top that were 159K, on the golf course, have been gutted and renovated and are now on the market for 259K (in the last two or three years) does not speak of decline. (given that this is one lucky street that is not repeating elsewhere, at least that i'm aware of.)

the life cycle of master planned communities today, especially the woodlands, cannot be compared to the life cycle of other master planned communities in the past or each other for that matter. as you've said, "There are too many factors subtly at play.".

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regardless of the potential increases in taxes, the economic "town center effect" (that would be "the woodlands town center" specifically) will certainly prolong the lifespan of the eastern half of the woodlands......don't you think? if exxon's move doesn't bring thousands of home buyers as many people are hoping, doesn't the area appear to have staying power, regardless? when commercial leasing agents are landing retail tenants who do not expect to profit, but want to have their name represented in the woodlands, doesn't that represent more staying power as a "suburb" than a tiny area like garden oaks? houses on north timber top that were 159K, on the golf course, have been gutted and renovated and are now on the market for 259K (in the last two or three years) does not speak of decline. (given that this is one lucky street that is not repeating elsewhere, at least that i'm aware of.)

the life cycle of master planned communities today, especially the woodlands, cannot be compared to the life cycle of other master planned communities in the past or each other for that matter. as you've said, "There are too many factors subtly at play.".

Okay, well then let's compare to Inwood. Inwood has some very nice older homes, most of them fronting a financially distressed golf course. Like my other examples, apartments at the periphery compromise the local schools as well as a sense of safety. Lucky for Inwood, it's part of the City of Houston, and Houston's large tax base keeps their tax rate low. What's surprising, though, is that a typical home fronting a golf course in Inwood is going to be about as expensive as a remodeled home fronting a golf course in The Woodlands. You might retort that these are also apples and oranges. True. But it doesn't seem like it should bode well for The Woodlands when an inferior location, product, and brand still manages to keep pace in terms of pricing. What happens when The Woodlands' publicity machine is left to the public sector? Add in self-government and consequent budget pressures. Not looking good.

And this is why I'd be hesitant to buy into The Woodlands. There's not even that much of a price premium, there doesn't seem to be much upside, but there is plenty of potential for downside risk.

And after all, if I'm banking on the Exxon relocation or continued job growth in the 'Town Center', there are other neighborhoods in north Houston where low expectations are already priced-in, even at respectably high price points. Those would be better places to buy; if I had to live in The Woodlands, I'd rent.

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interesting. are you arguing that the woodlands as an investment is already in decline.....on the downward slope of a master planned community's life cycle? my consideration regarding the topic is longevity (stability) rather than an ever increasing home investment. i do not see the woodlands, perhaps just the eastern side, diminishing any time soon. do you? as to whether or not home values will more likely increase or decrease (in the long term), who can say.

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interesting. are you arguing that the woodlands as an investment is already in decline.....on the downward slope of a master planned community's life cycle? my consideration regarding the topic is longevity (stability) rather than an ever increasing home investment. i do not see the woodlands, perhaps just the eastern side, diminishing any time soon. do you? as to whether or not home values will more likely increase or decrease (in the long term), who can say.

The Woodlands has never been a great investment locale. The developer takes the value of Woodlands cache out in the price of the property. In other words, builders sell the exact floor plan in the Woodlands for $30,000 more than in comparable neighborhoods (yes, I have insider knowledge). So, the buyer starts $30,000 in the hole in trying to get back investment. Further, this state leading home sales you keep bragging about puts a damper on resale value. No used home will sell for more than a new one would, making new home prices the ceiling for resale. I have intimate knowledge of nice homes in good villages that have only appreciated 33% in 20 years. That is less than inflation. As new home building diminishes, this could change, but there are plenty of subdivisions around the Woodlands offering bigger lots and fewer restrictions for the same money. It will be awhile before land for new homes around the Woodlands dries up.

I am intrigued that you do not believe property taxes are important to potential Woodlands buyers. I do not believe that they are that ignorant, but who knows? At any rate, it will not impact anything until the rates actually go up, or the services decline. That is still a few years out, as the town has not yet incorporated, and there is still revenue coming from several places.

As for HOAs disappearing? Try reading The Woodlands Township's website. I did. And, I still have no idea what a "Town Center Effect" is, as you are the only one I've ever heard use the term. However, I do know that the lowest home and property values in the entire township are in those neighborhoods closest to the Town Center, so perhaps this "effect" is not a good thing. And retailers who do not expect a profit won't be there long.

This is not to say the Woodlands is in immediate peril, or peril at all. It is merely to say that new things excite. Older things not so much. As the Woodlands ages, it will lose some of its cache. It will not turn into a ghetto, but like every center city, it will lose some luster as the surrounding area becomes popular. It takes lots of money to stay on top, and since the Woodlands will now be a government, there will be pressure not to raise taxes to do so. If you think otherwise, then you are certainly the Woodlands' preferred resident.

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TBH, Cinco Ranch has more lasting appeal than The Woodlands. The Woodlands is too far north and disconnected from much of the city. Cinco Ranch has multiple freeway/tollway connections into the city, and West Houston is the most built up side. If The Woodlands Parkway was a freeway similar to the Grand Parkway through Cinco Ranch, I think it would better help TW in the long-run. With the current setup, I'm not sure how much further west they can really develop without people just not wanting to live that far away from a freeway. And we'll see if the GP helps, or hurts TW. Will people, who don't want to live on the extreme western portions of TW instead live in a new develop off of the GP?

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interesting. are you arguing that the woodlands as an investment is already in decline.....on the downward slope of a master planned community's life cycle? my consideration regarding the topic is longevity (stability) rather than an ever increasing home investment. i do not see the woodlands, perhaps just the eastern side, diminishing any time soon. do you? as to whether or not home values will more likely increase or decrease (in the long term), who can say.

The developers of The Woodlands sensed in the early 2000s that their community was maturing and in need of a branded make-over. Having The Woodlands Mall in their pocket simply wasn't enough anymore. Thus, the Town Center concept was born. It was a marketing gimmick to prevent stagnation of the brand. It was a good idea that worked. However the effect is as impermanent as retilers are fickle. As demographics transition, so do storefronts.

Westbury Square was nice once.

If you're looking to age-in-place and you don't mind being behind the leading edge of affluence, then you've probably got nothing to worry about. The essentials will always be available to you, and there will always be decent places that cater to office workers. You'll be fine.

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As for HOAs disappearing? Try reading The Woodlands Township's website. I did. And, I still have no idea what a "Town Center Effect" is, as you are the only one I've ever heard use the term. However, I do know that the lowest home and property values in the entire township are in those neighborhoods closest to the Town Center, so perhaps this "effect" is not a good thing. And retailers who do not expect a profit won't be there long.

when the township was the town center improvement district, there was a study they were required to do that compared home values in close proximity to "tcid" as compared to homes 5, 10, 15 miles away. comparable home values within one mile of tcid showed to be about 20% higher than their counterparts elsewhere. the study was either titled "town center effect" or used the term in the report. it was on the old website. i do not know if they are required to do this study anymore and i have not been able to locate a current version on any of the websites. perhaps the data is no longer valid; however, my home value has appreciated 30% or more in less than ten years, unlike similar homes three miles away. i'm less than a mile from the woodlands pavilion. i think the "town center effect" is valid for homes close enough to walk to the amenities in town center and under 300K, especially when owning in town center costs considerably more.

regardless, the woodlands in and around town center will not suffer the same "lifecycle" of "past" master planned communities, imo. exxon announcement coming this month......

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The developers of The Woodlands sensed in the early 2000s that their community was maturing and in need of a branded make-over. Having The Woodlands Mall in their pocket simply wasn't enough anymore. Thus, the Town Center concept was born. It was a marketing gimmick to prevent stagnation of the brand. It was a good idea that worked. However the effect is as impermanent as retilers are fickle. As demographics transition, so do storefronts.

Westbury Square was nice once.

If you're looking to age-in-place and you don't mind being behind the leading edge of affluence, then you've probably got nothing to worry about. The essentials will always be available to you, and there will always be decent places that cater to office workers. You'll be fine.

as i've said before, i'd much rather live in the loop, especially now that the kiddo is gone. i would have to give up a lot of house in exchange for culture and diversity........and, the older i get, it doesn't seem like too bad of a trade off.

where would you say the leading edge of affluence is going to be? further out, more difficult to commute? more centralized, in and around the loop, industrial areas becoming residential?

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as i've said before, i'd much rather live in the loop, especially now that the kiddo is gone. i would have to give up a lot of house in exchange for culture and diversity........and, the older i get, it doesn't seem like too bad of a trade off.

where would you say the leading edge of affluence is going to be? further out, more difficult to commute? more centralized, in and around the loop, industrial areas becoming residential?

As far as the northern suburbs are concerned, it'll be rural western Montgomery County, where there are lots of mini-estates and ranchettes that are too small to subdivide en masse.

In the urban core is a different kind of affluence (or perhaps several different kinds in close proximity). I'd suggest that you just do a tour of the various Krogers, as each of them has a unique clientele mirroring the neighborhood. You'll figure out where you feel most comfortable.

I so miss walking to and from Battle Kroger for my King Cobras 40oz malt beverages...

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Those of you old enough to remember the early 80s should recall that the apartments that sprang up in southwest Houston were all the rage back then. Those apartments were the newest, most luxurious apartments in Houston. They were located near a burgeoning shopping and business area called the Galleria...even closer than the Woodlands businesses are to their residents...and were every bit as popular as Midtown is today. The oil bust and subsequent real estate bust gutted those apartments of tenants. Rents plummeted, and lower income tenants arrived. The spiral began.

And such was the case in other parts of Houston. Southwest Houston, the Antoine area, and Greenspoint were thriving areas at that time. How quickly neighborhoods can fall to ruin! In the early 80's the popular lifestyle for young people was moving to Houston, getting a job and renting an apartment in one of these areas; your Camaro, furniture and stereo were easily financed ("your job is your credit!").

Then, in the mid-80's a non-discrimination act was passed; apartments could not maintain a "singles-only" policy. [reference requested]. Coupled with a downturn in the local economy, these cheaply built apartments suddenly became less glamourous. I was amazed, to see reports of ten-year old apartment complexes being demolished, because they had outlived their usefulness. How astonishing to see real estate treated with the same regard as disposable lighters!

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The developers of The Woodlands sensed in the early 2000s that their community was maturing and in need of a branded make-over. Having The Woodlands Mall in their pocket simply wasn't enough anymore. Thus, the Town Center concept was born. It was a marketing gimmick to prevent stagnation of the brand. It was a good idea that worked. However the effect is as impermanent as retilers are fickle. As demographics transition, so do storefronts.

Westbury Square was nice once.

Westbury Square was a victim to new fangled air conditioned malls and really poor management. Funny, with the new popularity of "town centers" and the demise of many indoor malls Westbury Square would probably be very popular today had it been kept up. As you stated, demographics do change and you have to wonder what the next big retail experience will be.

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Westmoreland Place was Houston's first, developed by W.W. Baldwin in 1902. Though 20 or so homes were lost to the development of the Spur, it still hangs on. Let's face it, things just aren't built like they were back then. Back then, by the wealthy and when craftsmen and builders took pride in their work.

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Westmoreland Place was Houston's first, developed by W.W. Baldwin in 1902. Though 20 or so homes were lost to the development of the Spur, it still hangs on. Let's face it, things just aren't built like they were back then. Back then, by the wealthy and when craftsmen and builders took pride in their work.

I lived in Westmoreland from 1985 through 2008. Although I lived in what are called "non-contributing" buildings, my appreciation for the area is immense. I'm grateful that my neighbors have preserved the architectural integrity of the neighborhood. It remains charming and unique.

Some parts of its history may be more palatable than others; it was a very "*** cruise-y" neighborhood at one time, and was also the setting for several movies and a TV show.

Be that as it may, its unique character is undiminished. It's a true Houston treasure.

edit: I used the word which starts with 'g' and rhymes with 'may', which implies men who are sexually attracted to one another. It was replaced by "***". Why?

Edited by dbigtex56
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edit: I used the word which starts with 'g' and rhymes with 'may', which implies men who are sexually attracted to one another. It was replaced by "***". Why?

Seriously? I just lost a lot of respect for this forum, if that's the case. I'd like to hear the explanation for that also.

edit - I just flipped over to time.com and they have a front page story with the title - Are *** relationships different?

Edited by bachanon
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No need for all the drama. It's just a mistake. Instead of taking it as a personal affront in public, it would have been more useful if you'd just sent me an e-mail two days ago and I would have fixed it then.

A couple of months ago I stumbled across a third-party banned word utility that plugs in to the software that runs HAIF. Previously, I think there were only five or six banned words; this new file promised to add hundreds more. I didn't look through the list of banned words, I just saw that it was rated five stars by other people who use the same software as HAIF. That's what I get for not being thorough.

I guess the people who wrote it intended it to be used in less mature contexts than on HAIF. I'll uninstall it today.

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Update:

Well, the bad news is that there's no way to remove it without also removing all the previously banned words. The good news is that there weren't that many filtered words before. I think the only one I really recall is changing one to "moo."

There are some other odd banned words in that file:

GAO (So, no discussions of the General Accounting Office?)

FCUK (No discussions of the British French Connection clothing line?)

Guidos (None of the Jersey guidos I know are offended by "guido." Not since the 70's.)

meatspin (I don't even know what that means)

MyExTheBitch (Seems very specific)

WebNoobie (huh?)

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It's still true, you just add that brick (or stone or steel, for that matter) can be done equally as crappy as any other materials. What I was thinking of were places I've been in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, or Dublin. Old, made of stone, and done right the first time. There were definitely crappy stone buildings built 400 years ago too, but those aren't still around.

I've been to Edinburgh. I stayed a couple months at the University of Sterling in the mid 90s. Locals there were b*tching about the quality of construction and paper walls even then.

You can't compare construction methods across decades or centuries. If the Scottish are building with stone today.. it's a 1/2" stone veneer, just like us.

Edited by Highway6
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Update:

Well, the bad news is that there's no way to remove it without also removing all the previously banned words. The good news is that there weren't that many filtered words before. I think the only one I really recall is changing one to "moo."

There are some other odd banned words in that file:

GAO (So, no discussions of the General Accounting Office?)

FCUK (No discussions of the British French Connection clothing line?)

****** (None of the Jersey ****** I know are offended by "guido." Not since the 70's.)

******** (I don't even know what that means)

************ (Seems very specific)

********* (huh?)

I LOL'ed at ********. absolutely NSFW. I got Rick Rolled of sorts to that once. Google it at your own peril.

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I've been to Edinburgh. I stayed a couple months at the University of Sterling in the mid 90s. Locals there were b*tching about the quality of construction and paper walls even then.

You can't compare construction methods across decades or centuries. If the Scottish are building with stone today.. it's a 1/2" stone veneer, just like us.

Today maybe, but I meant the stuff built centuries ago that is still there. Not just a veneer.

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Update:

Well, the bad news is that there's no way to remove it without also removing all the previously banned words. The good news is that there weren't that many filtered words before. I think the only one I really recall is changing one to "moo."

There are some other odd banned words in that file:

GAO (So, no discussions of the General Accounting Office?)

FCUK (No discussions of the British French Connection clothing line?)

****** (None of the Jersey ****** I know are offended by "guido." Not since the 70's.)

******** (I don't even know what that means)

************ (Seems very specific)

********* (huh?)

This is screaming for it's own thread. A list of the most obscure swear words that you've ever heard. :lol:

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