Over four million square feet of retail is scheduled to deliver in 2016, a substantial increase of 33 percent more than delivered last year.The tremendous job and population growth in the Houston area has not been lost on ambitious developers that have targeted the region, and there is an extensive amount of development in the pipeline for this year alone.
Job and population growth go hand in hand, and by extension that leads to more development.
"It's a very competitive marketplace. It's a strong market and growing," says Ed Wulfe of Houston-based Wulfe & Co., a retail brokerage firm.
The area has seen a perfect storm of growth in the suburbs, as well as an increased demand for mixed-use projects in the city’s urban center. At the center of both is an increased appetite for grocery-anchored projects. About 35 percent of all of the development underway in the region will feature a grocery anchor, including the region’s largest project that is currently underway.
The Valley Ranch Town Center will bring 367,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment options to northeast Houston. Developer Signorelli Co. has signed on some major players such as Kroger and Sam’s Club as tenants at the new development, and credits the growth in the suburbs as the catalyst for the development as a whole.
"The opening of the Grand Parkway at the entrance to Valley Ranch provides easy access to this new retail destination, and leasing is going extremely well," said Brady Wilkins, an executive vice president with the firm.
Kroger will not only be putting down some roots in the new development from Signorelli either. The grocer will have a presence at several of the largest developments on tap in the region, including at the 324,000 square foot Westlake Marketplace, a 170,000 square foot development in Baytown, and at the 153,000 square foot Fairfield Marketplace.
"Texas is a focus market for Kroger. Houston is one of the nation's most diverse and welcoming cities. We are eager to expand our footprint in the region to keep pace with the rapid population growth," said Joy Partain, a spokesman for the company’s Houston division.
The influx in residents points to a clear need for more grocery store options, and the growing trend of grocery as the preferred choice to serve as an anchor for retail developments will not be slowing down anytime soon – in Houston or in other development hotbeds across the U.S.