The Woodlands is a master planned community and census-designated place (CDP) in the U.S. state of Texas in the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. It is primarily located in Montgomery County, with portions extending into Harris County. As of the 2010 census, the CDP population was 93,847, up from 55,649 at the 2000 census. In 2018, the Howard Hughes Corporation estimated the population to be 116,278.
The Woodlands is 28 miles (45 km) north of Houston along Interstate 45. Though it began as an exurban development and a bedroom community, it has also attracted corporations and has several corporate campuses, most notably Chevron Phillips Chemical, Huntsman Corporation, Woodforest National Bank, Baker Hughes, McDermott International, McKesson Corporation, Aon plc, Maersk Line, Safmarine, and Halliburton. It won a Special Award for Excellence in 1994 from the Urban Land Institute.
The Woodlands was conceived after the oil industry investor George P. Mitchell attended a symposium by the Rouse Company subsidiary American City Corporation and developer of Columbia, Maryland. on how to develop new towns using the HUD Title VII program. It was dedicated by George P. Mitchell in 1974 and managed by The Woodlands Corporation as an extension of Mitchell Energy & Development. Mitchell, an oil businessman, planned to establish a conference center, hotels, office parks, retail malls, schools, large distribution centers, and golf courses. Houses would range from moderately low to expensive and large. Bill Schadewald of the Houston Business Journal said that Mitchell wanted the development to "entice city slickers looking for far-flung suburban quality of life". Schadewald said that local sources stated that the HUD New Town program, a federally funded program, had a "low survival rate" and questioned whether The Woodlands would succeed.
The Woodlands Corporation was acquired on July 31, 1997, by a partnership between Morgan Stanley and Crescent Real Estate Equities. In December 2003, The Rouse Company acquired Crescent's interest, and Rouse was bought by General Growth Properties on November 12, 2004. In 2011 The Woodlands was sold to the Howard Hughes Development Corporation.
The land was previously occupied by the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Mill, hence Grogan's Mill and Cochran's Crossing neighborhoods, called "villages". The original planning utilized many of the planning concepts and design consultants employed in other well-regarded new communities of that era such as Columbia, Maryland, Irvine Ranch, California and Reston, Virginia. The original development plan included environmental design principles espoused by Ian McHarg, a distinguished landscape architect, teacher and author of the seminal work Design With Nature.
It continues to grow residentially and commercially as many companies are moving there. In addition to Chevron Phillips, Huntsman Corporation, Hewitt Associates, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Maersk, M&S Engineering and Woodforest National Bank have set up operations. The Town Center includes shopping and eating facilities as well as a waterway resembling the San Antonio River Walk.
On September 13, 2008, it sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Ike. Sustained winds of 85 mph (137 km/h) brought down thousands of trees, powerlines, and billboards in the area and severely damaged the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Ike was the first hurricane to directly affect the area since Hurricane Alicia in 1983.
The summer of 2011 brought an unprecedented drought throughout Texas, which caused thousands of trees to die and requiring they be taken down, a process that continued into 2012.
In 2011, Schadewald said "Now: Obviously, The Woodlands had quite a future. Somewhere between First Colony and The Woodlands, I realized why visionary real estate developers strike it rich more often than skeptical real estate reporters."
In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau designated the area around The Woodlands and Conroe as a "large urbanized transit area", defined as having over 200,000 residents, making it eligible to receive federal transportation funds.
From 2004-2018, water taxis known as "Waterway Cruisers" traveled along The Woodlands Waterway. On November 13, 2018, after suffering damage from Hurricane Harvey the year before, the six Waterway Cruisers were removed from the waterway.
Mitchell's original plan was for The Woodlands to be annexed by the city of Houston. In the middle part of the 2000s (decade), some residents feared such an annexation, as had happened to the Kingwood development almost a decade before. To counteract any possible move by the city, a movement began to create an independent city government. However, the formation of an independent government would require authorization by the State of Texas and the City of Houston, as Houston held extraterritorial jurisdiction over the area.
In 2007, two state legislators representing Woodlands, Sen. Tommy Williams and Rep. Robert Eissler, introduced two bills that were enacted in the 2007 Legislature – House Bill 4109 and Senate Bill 1012. HB 4109 called for a vote to allow expansion of an existing improvement district (now The Woodlands Township) and to allow The Woodlands to collect sales tax, while SB 1012 allowed for the creation of regional agreements between governments. The passage of these bills allowed an opportunity for The Woodlands to incorporate itself.
The Woodlands Realtor