The $100 million East Aldine Town Center project, when complete, will feature a Lone Star College campus, a Harris County 9-1-1 call center, the new home for BakerRipley Community Center (which has already been built), private commercial development, and the headquarters for the East Aldine Management District, and more importantly, it’s about the community having a place to learn, visit, and enjoy.
According to Don Huml the District’s Construction Manager for the development, there have been some unique challenges in getting the project off the ground. Or maybe more accurately, getting the ground out of the way of the project.
When the 61-acre parcel was purchased in 2013, it had been serving as a site to place the extra dirt that the Harris County Flood Control District needed to excavate in order to create the detention basin (lakes) in the adjacent Keith-Wiess Park. Before construction could begin on the town center, that dirt had to be scooped up and hauled away, a task that cost millions of dollars and several years in time.
Total construction will come to approximately 250,000 sq. ft. of commercial and institutional space, of which 100,000 sq. ft. will be commercial retail and office space, 64,500 sq. ft. will belong to Lone Star College’s East Aldine campus (which will include an early college high school), and 24,000 sq. ft. to the management district’s offices and 23,000 for the Harris County 9-1-1 call center. The remaining 33,500 sq. ft. is allocated to BakerRipley and includes a “maker space” to assist in skill and business support for the East Aldine community.
In addition to the institutions the town center will be hosting, there will also be both a retail component and amenities free to the general public, such as splash pads and a central park and playground area. The project will also include a Discovery Green/Miller Outdoor Theatre-style amphitheater with a capacity for 1,500 concertgoers. Area community leaders have formed the East Aldine Arts Council, which hopes to bring visual and performing arts to the Town Center grounds and facilities.
It is possible that the town center will also become the principal gateway to Keith-Wiess Park, supplementing the existing entryway on Aldine-Westfield. A future road access into Keith-Wiess Park as well as several trail connections are planned in order to tie these two world class properties together. A future recreational/nature center is envisioned in the park which would complete the puzzle and put this 500-acre park and town center complex on the map of the Greater Houston region.
Huml says that the retail component will be anchored by a Joe V’s Smart Shop, a community oriented grocery concept operated by H-E-B, and that the town center will eventually be home to restaurants, coffee shops, and more.