Romerica Spokespeople Address High-Rise Project Phasing at Lake-Houston-Area-Chamber BizCom Event

Leah Manlove Howard of John Manlove Marketing and Communications and Michelle Hundley of Stratus Consulting gave a 14-minute presentation on the Romerica high-rise project today to members of the Lake Houston Chamber. For those who attended Romerica’s 2-hour public meeting at the Kingwood Community Center in March, there wasn’t much new. However, the spokespeople did discuss project phasing this time.

The three areas labeled “project area” would be developed from top to bottom. See below.

Phases of Development: North to South

Ms. Howard indicated that there would be three phases of development – in this order.

  1. Northern section containing condos
  2. Middle section containing retail
  3. Southern section containing high-rise commercial development, condos, hotel, and marina.

Responding to Public Comments is Next Step

Developing all three areas could take years. Regarding immediate next steps, Ms. Howard said the developer’s team expects to receive public comments by Friday, April 5. They must be answered and returned by April 27. She predicted the Corps will hold a public hearing approximately four months after that. Ms. Hundley said that it could be two years before a permit could be issued. She also said it might be ten years before development started.

Emphasizing Importance of “Fixing River”

Throughout the meeting, Ms. Howard reiterated Gabriel Haddad’s main themes from the community center meeting in March:

  • Conceptual thinking on the project began years before Harvey
  • Concerns raised by community members and planning for an event like Harvey would ultimately improve the project
  • Any development remains contingent on making the river and lake navigable again, because the centerpiece of the project is a resort marina/hotel.
  • The tax revenue generated by the project could help fund long-term maintenance dredging of the river that keeps it navigable.

Meeting in Austin Next Week

The Romerica team will meet legislators in Austin next week to discuss funding for “fixing” the lake and river. They will be meeting with “leaders that can make something happen.” Later when asked to clarify who they would meet, Ms Howard elaborated. According to Bill Fowler, one of the leaders of the Lake Houston Area Grass Roots Flood Prevention Initiative, she said “Huberty, Creighton, and committee heads in charge of appropriations.”

Core Questions Not Really Addressed

Ms. Howard began her presentation by saying Romerica’s condos would be “different.” By that, she meant “built on stilts”. After the presentation, I asked her where all the fill was going if everything would be built on stilts. Like the CivilTech engineer at the earlier meeting, she did not provide an answer. Neither did she answer Bill Fowler’s question about the previous experience of the developers.

Both Fowler and I then requested a small meeting with the developers and their team of experts to discuss answers to such questions. They include:

  • How developers intend to get around deed restrictions
  • How they hope to evacuate thousands of people living in the floodway during floods.

To her credit, Ms. Howard at least acknowledged that Romerica needed to answer the last question. However, she didn’t have a firm plan yet. She said they still hope Hamblen Road can be connected with Woodland Hills and implied that could help with evacuation efforts. However, she did not address raising Hamblen or how that could affect flooding of nearby properties. No meeting has been set at this point to discuss any of these issues.

Posted by Bob Rehak on April 4, 2019

583 Days after Hurricane Harvey