Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story referred to the Master-Planned Church as Audubon Magnolia. The real name is Audubon. This story was also updated to include a change to Magnolia ISD attendance boundaries that the administration made in late January. The first section of Audubon and the nearby Mill Creek development will be zoned to visit Magnolia Parkway Elementary School instead of Williams Elementary School.
Adjacent to the city of Magnolia, a city of 722 homes, the master plan was createdAudubonit is set to build 4,000-5,000 homes in the next 12-15 years. Audubon's first model homes, in the works since 2016, are scheduled to open in February, said Sam Yager III, present executive vice president of Sam Yager Inc., developer of Master-Planned Community.
Spanning 3,000 acres in the freeway crosshairs. The extension of Tollway 249 and FM 1488 in Magnolia, Audubon, will include 550 mixed-use acres, including retail space and thousands of multi-family homes, as well as parks, miles of trails and single-family homes, Yager said. . Yager said he expects Audubon to fully expand in 20 years.
With Audubon's arrival, more schools and roads will likely be needed, for which Yager, Magnolia ISD and the Texas Department of Transportation have partnered to prepare them, he said.
"It's an exciting but scary time for the city of Magnolia with all the growth," said Brenda Hoppe, a Magnolia City Council member and vice president of 4B Community Development Corp. A rural, not overly commercialized city. ... It's good and bad. You see all the trees fall, but again you can't sit still. We need the business and the people to keep Magnolia viable."
Yager said Audubon's development was largely tied to the construction of the highway. 249 Magnolia expansion, whose first segment opened in August. With highways. 249 bisects the Master's planned community and positions Audubon as a central destination for those in the growing areas of College Station, The Woodlands and Northwest Houston, he said.
“If you think about all the things that are happening at the same time, we are in the center,” he said. “[Hwy.] 249 is a big change in travel time. ... Location alone will drive growth.”
Divided into seven districts, Yager said the first two areas are under construction: Audubon Park and Creekside North. This phase 1 consists of 450 lots.
Heron Heights homes under construction in Creekside North will range from $220,000 to $350,000, Yager said. The model homes are expected to be completed in early February, with the first home sales in March. Audubon Park will see home prices between $350,000 and $700,000, with model home construction beginning in February, she said.
The Audubon Park district will also include the main community recreation area of Audubon Park and commercial development along FM 1488, which could include a future hospital campus, Yager said.
"When the roofs come in, that helps bring other things," said Anne Sundquist, a former Magnolia City Council member and vice president of the 4A Economic Development Corp.
Audubon Magnolia is in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Magnolia and receives some services from the City, but does not contribute to any tax revenue. While Sundquist said the city plans to gradually annex the development, Yager said annexation is not part of the development agreement.
“We have a special development agreement with the city where they don't annex us during the life of the project,” he said. "Our agreement with the city is that they will provide us with water and sewer services, but the city will actually build and operate the systems in Audubon."
Yager said Audubon was designed with millennials in mind, weaving together art, nature and walkability, and the convenience of education, commerce and living in one location for lifelong residents.
The community is designed so that each home is within a 5-minute walk of a trail, trail or park. Lighted crosswalks, acres of parks, and miles of eight-foot-wide trails are also planned along Mill Creek. Recreational facilities will be available to residents outside of Audubon, Yager said, with potential connections to hiking trails in the city of Magnolia.
“There are people who live in this area and live there because the access was like that. Now they will have an alternative to have all the conveniences in one place,” said Yager. "You get off the freeway and you're home."
Located in the Audubon Park neighborhood, Magnolia ISD expects to complete the sale of 14 acres for an elementary school in February, said Erich Morris, MISD assistant manager of operations, as Audubon and surrounding developments could generate annual enrollment growth of two digits.
“From the early 2000s through 2010, Magnolia ISD grew at a double-digit rate in terms of enrollment, about 10% per year. That's something we'll probably come back to," Morris said.
On November 9, the board approved the purchase of the site for about $1.7 million, funded by the district's $92 million referendum in 2015. Morris said the district will likely have another Aim for Bond referendum within two years.
"Given our 2015 bond referendum and the new class configuration regarding the middle school focus and the removal of fifth grade from all of our elementary schools, we have significant overall capacity at our elementary schools," he said. "However, we know that with the aggressive growth we anticipate from Audubon, things can happen quite quickly."
While Morris said in early January that Audubon is within the existing visitor zone for Williams Elementary School, which is the most populous elementary school, MISD administration updated its attendance boundaries in late January to adjust zoning. so the first section of Audubon and the nearby Mill Creek development located within the Magnolia Parkway Elementary footprint, communications director Denise Meyers said in a Feb. 2 email. Magnolia Parkway currently has about 560 students enrolled, while Williams enrolls about 700 students, she said.
Morris said the district hopes to purchase three to four sites in Audubon for several elementary schools and a middle and/or high school.
With more homes, Morris said, Phase 1 is expected to add $145 million to the district's taxable value and generate about $1.8 million in additional local revenue for MISD.
“We don't have a timeline for when Phase 1 will be completed, but we anticipate growth of hundreds of students per year,” Morris said.
In addition to new schools, improved mobility is also crucial, Yager said.
"Mobility was probably one of the biggest challenges in this space," Yager said.
Sundquist said he believes the demand for housing will increase as new modes of transportation emerge.
"I think with [Hwy.] 249 and people realizing they can go directly to [FM] 1488 now, it's doable," he said.
Yager said he has been working with Montgomery County on a mobility plan and is using TxDOT to coordinate regional projects like the highway. 249 Tollway Extension and the upcoming extension of FM 1488.
“When you think about mobility, Audubon is right in the middle and there is a lot of coordination. That's why it took him four years to get to this point,” he said.
Yager said that within Audubon, priority was requested for the highway from TxDOT. 249 and was donated in exchange for longer frontage roads, more crossings, and better drainage.
"We kind of looked at the long-term impact on the community and said, 'How can we make this a better trail? How are we improving access to Audubon? How do we improve regional mobility?'” Yager said.
Similarly, Yager is working with TxDOT to improve FM 1488 by donating back the right-of-way to create a parkway along FM 1488 in Audubon.
The extension of FM 1488 from FM 1774 west of FM 149 is scheduled to begin in August, according to Emily Black, TxDOT Public Information Officer.
“The Montgomery County area is one of the fastest growing in the United States and we are continually working to expand mobility in this community. With each growth and new development, we expect traffic to increase, so we are working to expand mobility in the region,” Black wrote in an email.
Additionally, Yagers includes plans to work with Montgomery County to connect existing highways such as FM 1774 to Hwy. 249, as part of a 20-year, $79 million regional mobility and economic development program approved in 2018.
"[Audubon is] a regional asset," Yager said. “We take responsibility for what we do very seriously. ... It will be a gateway to Magnolia. It will be the first thing people think of when exiting the freeway in this area; we will be the ones who make that first impression.”