The Woodlands is on the Rise

April 1, 2005 by  
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Founded in 1974 by George P. Mitchell, The Woodlands, Texas has kept to its ultimate mission: to be a self-sustaining community where people live together in harmony with nature. In turn, it has become the model nationally and internationally as the best master-planned community ever – a community many times copied, but never truly duplicated. With eight villages – the last one currently under construction – The Woodlands is constantly growing to meet the needs of its residents. This suburb of 27,000 acres has proven not only to be the perfect place to raise a family with top-notch education and expansive natural preserves, but also a corporate headquarters, entertainment destination and shopping experience. With a population of more than 77,000 – a number growing by approximately 3,000 people a year – and 5,000 acres of preserved green space, The Woodlands is the No. 1 master-planned community in Texas. Recognized locally, nationally and internationally, The Woodlands is lauded for its commitment to the environment, aesthetic and functionality of community design, exceptional quality of life and much more. The Woodlands has grown into the most sought-after community in North Houston.

Ideal location
The Greater Houston area has expanded exponentially in the last few decades. Area families have moved out of the city in search of better education, lower home costs and more family-friendly neighborhoods. The Woodlands offers these unique living qualities for suburbanites and much more. Just 27 miles north of downtown Houston, The Woodlands boasts two direct thoroughfares to reach the big city: I-45 and Hardy Toll Road. Twenty-five minutes from Bush Intercontinental Airport and mere miles from Lake Conroe, The Woodlands is a self-sufficient hub north of the city. Just west of I-45 North, visitors are able to exit the expressway directly into the wooded paradise. Residents here enjoy the conveniences of Houston while relishing beautiful surroundings.

Natural habitat
Appropriately named, The Woodlands is situated on the edge of the Piney Woods. With mature trees surrounding just about every open space in the area, founders saw an opportunity to create a residence master-planned around nature. From parks and golf courses to forest preserves, The Woodlands is a modern-day Sherwood Forest.

“We love the natural beauty of The Woodlands. Bike paths and parks are sprinkled everywhere. Living there means we don’t have to drive to a forest and camp to be close to nature,” says a 28-year resident of The Woodlands.

The Woodlands is ultimately planned for a population of 125,000 and 8,000 acres of preserved green space. Currently, there are 135 miles of hike-and-bike trails winding through the city, and 28 percent of the community is dedicated to nature.

Former home of the PGA Shell Houston Open for 17 years, The Woodlands is home to six world-class golf courses. The only community in the nation with signature golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Fazio, The Woodlands boasts 117 holes of golf. In addition, The Club at Carlton Woods is home to a Nicklaus course that was named best new golf course by Golf Digest in 2003.

Higher learning
Education in The Woodlands proves one of the main reasons why residents move here. Offering an outstanding primary education as well as a number of continuing education institutions, the area attracts many families interested in the award-winning schools available.

The Woodlands offers exceptional public education through Conroe Independent School District. With 10 elementary, three intermediate, two junior high and two high schools located within The Woodlands, there are ample opportunities for learning. The Woodlands College Park High School and a flex elementary school are scheduled to open in the fall of 2005.

All of these schools rate above satisfactory, many receiving additional awards and recognition. The Woodlands High School was recently named a National Blue Ribbon School for superior education.

There are also four private schools in the area, some offering education through high school. Additionally, there are a number of continuing education opportunities in The Woodlands. The North Harris Montgomery Community College District has opened two higher-learning centers here. A junior college, Montgomery College offers students associate degrees and an opportunity to start their bachelor degree close to home. The University Center is a collaboration of six universities that allows students to obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees in addition to teacher certification courses.

Booming business
Although originally a suburb of Houston with residents commuting to the city for jobs, The Woodlands has grown into a thriving business community. According to The Woodlands Operating Company, there are 1,219 employers and 37,175 employees in The Woodlands. Among the major corporations that call the area home is Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Hewitt Associates LLC, Hughes Christensen and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.

There are three major business areas: along I-45, the Town Center and The Research Forest. Town Center is a space that houses retail, dining and entertainment options, including The Woodlands Mall with more than 1.2 million square feet of indoor and outdoor venues. The Research Forest is home to pharmaceutical, biomedical and administrative companies.

The Woodlands Town Center Improvement District is a government agency formed by the Texas Legislature in 1993 to promote and maintain economic growth in The Woodlands’ downtown area. Through a 1 percent sales tax, the TCID has been able to facilitate The Woodlands Waterway Convention Center and expand the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion to a 17,000 capacity arena, among other projects. The agency helps tie business, government and community in order to make the area a destination in itself.

Diversion destination
The Woodlands is no longer simply a tranquil suburb, but rather a hub of activity. With more than 150 bars and restaurants, a new Main Street area, The Woodlands Waterway, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center, the wooded city to the north of Houston offers an exciting escape.

The Woodlands Waterway, a 1.25-mile winding waterway through Town Center, connects many of The Woodlands’ attractions. Take a water taxi and enjoy the views, stroll along the banks of the river and visit the many stops along the way. From urban residential spaces to The Woodlands Mall to

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands Waterway gives visitors the chance to relax and take in the beauty of The Woodlands. With the new Market Street under way, The Woodlands offers an old-fashion Main Street area, a space for everyone to congregate, the downtown of The Woodlands. Retail, business, restaurants and bars fill the area, which encourages patrons to leisurely stroll between shops. The 24-acre Market

Street boasts an entertainment stage and green park for pleasant evenings with friends. With 28 current spaces and another 22 spaces to open in the near future, Market Street offers a vast array of options.

With restaurants like Chipotle and Berryhill’s, spas and beauty salons like Bella Rinova and Beauty First, shops like Sur la Table, Aaron Brothers and Luke’s Locker, Market Street has already become a destination for spending a relaxing day in The Woodlands. This spring alone, the area welcomes the wine bar Crú, Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café & Emporium and a new Grotto, in addition to an upscale Cinemark Theater and retail destinations Tickled Pink, Pier One Kids, Elizabeth’s Boutique and Maggie’s. The Woodlands Children’s Museum, a learning play land for the whole family, is also located in Market Street.

Many of the biggest names in music visit The Woodlands’ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Seating 17,000 and boasting a relaxing grass-covered hill for picnic-style entertainment, the pavilion has hosted such names as Radiohead, Willie Nelson, Incubus, Gloria Estefan, David Bowie, Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, Gipsy Kings, Dave Mathews and James Taylor.

With The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center and The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, this north-Houston suburb has become a destination in itself. Whether for an evening’s stay after a concert at the pavilion or a girls’ weekend getaway filled with shopping and fun, a close family vacation or a business conference just out of town, the accommodations here make The Woodlands the perfect destination. H

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