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Amazon Transportation Center at Valley Ranch Nears Completion

In the four months since I last posted about the new Amazon Transportation Center at Valley Ranch on I-69 and White Oak Creek, just south of the Grand Parkway, the facility has come a long way. I can’t see inside, of course, but exterior construction looks complete.

In March, Community Impact reported the facility would open this year, but did not specify a date. Amazon said it was one of four such facilities opening in the Houston area this year. “The station will bring in about 300 full-time jobs paying $15 as a starting hourly wage,” said Community Impact.

Amazon Transportation Facility at Valley Ranch as of 11/6/2021. Looking NNW from the SE corner. I-69 intersects Grand Parkway in upper right.

According to Amazon’s plans, those brownish grassy areas between the parking lots are wetlands they are trying to preserve.

Looking SW from over White Oak Creek from NE corner of property.

The site has two large detention ponds on the left and in the foreground to help slow down all that runoff from the acres of concrete.

Looking S from over I-69 (right).

Proximity to Bush Intercontinental Airport, US59 and the Grand Parkway make this location an ideal transportation hub.

Looking NE. I-69 in lower left.

Development in this area is exploding. While photographing this site today, I noticed three other sites on the west side of I-69 clearing ground. Developers are excavating detention ponds and building has just begun. More on those soon.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/7/2021

1531 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Amazon Expands the Concrete Jungle

Amazon is building a new transportation center on the east side of I-69 just south of the Grand Parkway. Two months ago, this site was little more than dirt. Now, there’s a building with a roof, parking lots and detention ponds. I took all the pictures below on Sunday, 7/17/21.

Looking NNW across the future Amazon site toward the intersection of I-69 and SH99.
Walls are up and the roof is on. A nice touch, from a flood-reduction point of view, is the preservation of what appear to wetlands in the foreground and other portions of the site. See the construction plans here.
White Oak Creek and its floodplain (wooded area in center) form the northern boundary of the Amazon site.
According to Community Impact newspaper, Amazon hopes to open the facility late this year. The site has three detention ponds, all visible in this shot, which is looking south. They are in the foreground, upper left, and near the freeway in the upper right.
Looking SW across the new building and I-69. Note the big cleared area in the distance and see below.
No progress since the last report in early May across the highway at Signorelli’s planned medical center complex.

Amazon’s Prime Location

Amazon’s location will position the company to take advantage of growth made possible by the extension of the Grand Parkway east of I-69. A logistical bonus: the site lies less than 10 miles from Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The giant box-like structure looks like a concrete monolith from the freeway. It has all the charm of the cardboard boxes that will flow through here in a few months. But the relentless pursuit of cost-cutting makes Amazon popular, not architectural charm and uniqueness.

Community Impact says Amazon will bring about 300 full-time jobs to the Porter area, starting at $15 per hour. Amazon will open three more similar facilities in the Houston area this year.

Environment – a Fragile Package

Amazon’s relentless expansion mirrors the growth of the Houston metropolitan area itself. As a concrete jungle replaces the natural jungle, we must all remain vigilant to ensure detention ponds retain runoff in heavy rains and that wetlands are preserved. Too often, the push to pave over every square inch of property increases downstream flooding.

Development is inevitable. But flooding is not if the development is done responsibly.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/17/2021

1419 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Valley Ranch Med Plaza and Shipping Complexes Planned

The Valley Ranch area in Porter near US 59 and SH 99 is developing rapidly these days. Signorelli Company calls Montgomery County the 18th fastest growing county in the US.

Medical Plaza Site Cleared

The developer has just cleared a 200+ acre site for a medical plaza in this area. Signorelli’s website says, “Envisioned as the ‘place of wellness’ for the region, the Medical District is a visionary mixed-use concept blending healthcare with restaurants, specialty services, hotels, and high-density residential, providing a broad range of health care services, from primary physicians to acute care and every specialist in between.”

Looking SW across US 59 in foreground. Photo taken on 5/3/21 after three inches of rain on April 30 and May 1. This area drains into the White Oak Creek Watershed.
Detention ponds, both in this picture and the developer’s website seem to be planned for the area back from the freeway. Photo taken 5/3/2021.

The Montgomery County Engineer’s office says it does not yet have construction, drainage plans, or an H&H analysis specifically for the medical plaza property. In response to my FOIA Request, the engineer’s office said, “This is all we have on file at this time.” Their drainage mitigation study they sent me was produced in 2014, long before Atlas 14. That means its runoff calculations are likely 40% short of the current standard. The study also does not isolate this portion of the overall development.

The study concludes, the entire development will have “no impact to adjacent properties” because of the timing of the runoff. Last year, the Montgomery County Engineer tried to get the MoCo Commissions Court to ban hydrograph-timing studies because of their limitations.

It’s unclear at this time whether Signorelli is planning to update its drainage mitigation study and incorporate Atlas-14 standards into its medical plaza drainage.

Amazon Distribution Complex Across Freeway

Right across the freeway from the Valley Ranch medical plaza, Amazon is building a distribution complex.

Looking NNW toward 59 and 99. Right across the freeway from the Signorelli development, a transportation hub is reportedly being built for Amazon. According to Community Impact, the company hopes to open the delivery center this year. Photo taken 5/3/2021.

That green area that snakes its way across 99 and then 59 from the top left to upper right is White Oak Creek. White Oak runs southeast through Porter then joins Taylor Gully and Mills Branch south of the Triple PG Sand Mine near Woodstream Forest. Ultimately, it joins Caney Creek near Dunnam Place and then the East Fork of the San Jacinto. See below.

The Amazon facility did not require a H&H analysis because of its size.

Page 8 of Amazon Construction Plans shows site is covered with wetlands. Site borders floodway and part is in White Oak’s floodplain.

The Amazon site has a floodway/floodplain permit. For a high-res, printable version of the site plan above, click here.

Look out below!

Posted by Bob Rehak on May 10, 2021

1350 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.