Manvel is expected to soon see the opening of the master planned community known as Pomona. City council is expected to see numerous agenda items for next week’s meeting that will ask for authorization that, if given, will essentially open the project for business. Already a temporary sales office is open on site, five model homes are under various stages of construction, and major roadways are ready for traffic. As explained by Manvel’s City Manager Kyle Jung, once the roads are officially open, “the residential sections will be ready for builders and the subdivision will be firmly underway.”
The development comprises approximately 1,000 acres and will contain 2,100 single family homes along with various multi-family residential and commercial structures upon its maturity. The development’s Master Plan also shows two reserves established for an elementary school and a junior high school within its boundaries. The development will be served by the Alvin Independent School District (AISD). Development boundaries are not exact, but generally follow the American Canal on the north, CR 48 on the west, SH 288 on the east, and CR 58 on the south.
Hillwood Communities is the developer of the project and is a company in the portfolio of Ross Perot. Builders with model homes currently under construction that show identification include Highland Homes, Plantation Homes, and Trendmaker Homes. David Weekly Homes and Coventry Homes are also expected to be part of the project’s first phase of 300 homes. As stated on the project website, “Hillwood’s vision for this project is to bridge today’s modern lifestyle conveniences to a simper, laid-back character found in the charming Gulf Coast communities of the South. The Mustang Bayou, a river that will serve as the heart of the community, defines Pomona and features amenities, schools and gathering spaces linked by an extensive trail system. More than 300 acres of the property will remain open space in the form of wetlands and protective waters. Improvements to the bayou include planting native grasses and trees.”
Pamona was the original name given the current city of Manvel. Around the time of the railroad coming to town in 1877 it was learned that an existing Pamona in West Texas already had claim to the name. Citizens decided on Manvel at the suggestion of a railroad representative who stated that was “the name of the railroad president, an important man, and the railroad would make Manvel important to this community.” Allen Manvel was an official of the railroad who resided and worked in Chicago. It is not at all clear whether he ever even visited the city. Allen Manvel was born in 1837 and died in 1893. He had three daughters and left no descendants carrying his name.
A couple of miles south is another large master planned community that also is steadily moving forward. Meridiana held an official groundbreaking ceremony last April at the development’s primary entrance on SH 288, currently designated as CR 56 in Iowa Colony. The road is to be renamed Meridiana Parkway and will work its way east through Iowa Colony to CR 786 and then meander in a northeasterly direction through Manvel eventually terminating at SH 6 where it meets McCoy Road across from Manvel High School. Plans call for a bridge on McCoy that will cross over the railroad track that runs parallel to SH 6. The 2,700 acre master-planned community reportedly includes more than 5,500 single family homes.
Developers have been disinclined to share project details but did announce this week that construction is well underway on Meridiana’s on-site elementary school. It describes it as a “21st century, two-story design that will feature exterior windows, creating an open concept, as well as offering ample natural light and great views. The school’s signature feature will include a stunning centrally located library spanning the full height of the building with soaring, clerestory windows.” The project website describes the project as “the ultimate in premier luxury living!” It goes on to explain the project: “From extraordinary schools to extraordinary amenities, Meridiana is more than an exceptional place to call home, it’s an utterly engaging experience alive with the spirit of exploration and discovery.” The website promises updates to be posted soon.
Meridiana had been percolating for years before finally getting under way this year. Originally to be called Seven Oaks, back in November 2009 Manvel city council approved preliminary plats for the project. Public hearings were held on the creation of a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) and city council ultimately approved its creation in May 2010. Developers then expected homes to be on the ground in Late 2010 or early 2011. City council granted the developer’s request to change the name to Meridiana in December 2010. A national economic recession resulted in the project being put off. Developers returned to city council to renew plats and development agreements according to requirements but were generally non-committal on their intent to break ground until just before doing so.
Currently existing developments carry on at strong paces as well. Lakeland continues to sell homes nearly as fast as they are built and with the recent resolution of its wastewater capacity a new Phase 3 is expected to break ground any time. Sedona Lakes recently won council approval to alter their development plan to include a larger number of smaller lot sizes as the project’s developer argued that is where the current market demand is. Additional phases of that project are already under construction. Rodeo Palms is also seeing increased activity with the completion of a new water well that is supposed to easily supply future development needs for the project. City council recently approved plats for new subdivisions that are currently under construction.
With the new rooftops coming, it is hoped that a large grocery store will more seriously consider a location within the city. In an effort to help along that decision, the Manvel Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has funded the construction of water and wastewater infrastructure along a large portion of both sides of SH 6 so that capacity now exists essentially from SH 1128 all the way to SH 288. Another infrastructure improvement that will encourage commercial development is the putting in of high-speed fiber optic cable that Comcast is currently installing on Hwy 6 through Manvel. According to city manager Kyle Jung, they are also planning to install it from Hwy 6 north on FM 1128. Jung said he was told that four businesses have already contacted Comcast about obtaining high speed internet and possibly phone service from them. Looking ahead proactively, Comcast said they are building their infrastructure prior to the growth so that when it is needed, they are ready to provide it.