By GILBERT HOFFMAN
NORTHEAST – The East Aldine District took a major step toward establishing a new town center for the district, by purchasing 61 acres of undeveloped land in the middle of the commercial district of Aldine Mail Route.
The district board took action at their last meeting, on Tuesday night, Aug. 21, to conduct a survey of the land and an environmental study, prior to finalizing the contract, according to David Hawes, East Aldine president. The land is being purchased from Clinton Wong of Hanover Limited, through broker Caldwell Companies. Caldwell conducted a thorough study of available sites before recommending this one, Hawes said.
The site is strategically located in the middle of commercial and residential areas of the East Aldine district, and on the 59 Bus Route. It is easily accessible from the Eastex Expressway, and is adjacent to Keith Wiess park. It is expected that the development will recognize the site as a major entrance to the park.
Preliminary planning sessions, with Hawes, district chair Gerald Overturff, district services director Richard Cantu, and a facilities committee led by board member Gilbert Hoffman, have identified a number of prospective uses and tenants for the site. It is expected that these would be partners in the development work.
These include a new college building for Lone Star College-North Harris, a Public Safety building that would house the Harris County Sheriff’s storefront operations and many other services, a Recreation Center, and a Civic Center building to house East Aldine District offices and other government functions.
Other partners that might be interested include the Houston Parks department, and the YMCA Greenspoint. The development might also include retail stores and restaurants, to bring a real “town center” feeling to the development, such as can be seen at The Woodlands and Sugar Land town centers.
Although the extent of development is preliminary, potential participants have suggested large development needs. Lone Star College might need as much as a 100,000 square foot building, similar to the Greenspoint facility.
Harris County Sheriff’s Department is considering moving major departments to the site, including the county-wide communications division, traffic unit including motorcycles, and the detective bureau.
It has even been mentioned that an emergency back-up facility for Trans-Star could be built here.
The Civic Center building might include offices for congressmen, state legislators, the Chamber of Commerce, and even county offices and court house functions, according to Richard Cantu. It would also be a place for non-profit agencies to have permanent offices and meeting facilities.
Recreation facilities might be indoor and outdoor, including an Olympic size swimming facility. In addition to all these buildings, surface parking and garage parking would be needed.
The East Aldine District expects to close on the property within 90 days, and then begin the planning process. They will pay about $4.291 million dollars for the site, financed by loans and cash on hand, according to Hawes.
The financial report to the board for this month indicated that income from sales tax collections was running above projections, and that the annual budget of $4 million dollars will probably be exceeded this year by $1 million, and perhaps more in future years as the economy improves.