Tag Archive for: Town Center

One of Harvey’s Most Visible Scars Being Replaced in Kingwood Town Center

If you live in Kingwood, you likely have noticed new construction in Town Center on the southwest corner of Kingwood Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway. For almost three years after Harvey, the Chase Bank on that corner sat vacant. Now it’s being replaced by a new freestanding CVS Pharmacy…but built up a little higher than the bank was.

Looking NW from over West Lake Houston Parkway toward the old H-E-B center in the background, new CVS under construction in foreground.

A Move Across WLHP for CVS

The new CVS Pharmacy will replace the CVS in the old Randall’s center across West Lake Houston Parkway. A CVS spokesman said the company hopes to have the new store open by spring of next year.

Looking straight down on the new construction. Kingwood Drive on left, WLHP at top.

The new CVS will definitely enhance the image of Kingwood’s busiest intersection. Unfortunately, two other shopping centers at that intersection have lost their anchor stores (Randall’s and the old H-E-B).

Rumors Regarding Randalls and Old H-E-B Centers

Merchants in the area say both shopping centers could soon be renovated. The old H-E-B center has a new owner who plans to reconfigure the shopping center and has reportedly been showing plans to prospective tenants.

The old H-E-B center on the NW corner still struggles without an anchor store. Only a handful of pre-Harvey merchants remain: Dominos, Hallmark, Hunan, Pet Ranch, and Subway. More than 30 stores are vacant.
The Randall’s center lost its anchor last year. The CVS store that’s moving across WLHP is on the right end of the strip center.

Rumors also suggest that Randall’s may be split into two smaller stores, adding new life to that center.

Chase continues to offer service from two other locations in Kingwood. One at Chestnut Ridge and Kingwood Drive. The other just three blocks south of the new CVS location.

No doubt, some of the vacancies are due to general weakness in demand due to COVID. But I also suspect many merchants have taken a wait-and-see attitude before signing leases. They want to see if flood-mitigation efforts are real.

Town Center Flood Risk Reduction Since Harvey

The return of commercial activity to Town Center will be an even stronger sign of recovery. Since Harvey, flood risk in Town Center has been greatly reduced with:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/17/2020

1146 Days since Hurricane Harvey

HCFCD to Begin Next Phase of Ben’s Branch Clean Out in October

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and its contractors met today with representatives of Kings Forest, the Bear Branch Trail Association and Kingwood Service Association to discuss the next phase of the Ben’s Branch clean out. On the south, the project lies entirely within the Creekwood Nature Area between Kingwood High School and the old H-E-B shopping center. Rocky Woods Drive forms the northern extent of the project. This will extend northward the work already completed south of Kingwood Drive.

Project extent outlined in red. Kingwood High School is at bottom center; Town Center on right; Kings Forest on left and Bear Branch at top of frame.

Maintenance Objective: Restore Conveyance

The objective: to restore conveyance of Ben’s Branch and reduce potential for flooding in Kings Forest, Bear Branch, the Kingwood High School, and Kingwood Town Center.

The ground these men are standing on is all deposited sediment that needs removal to restore conveyance. The original channel bank is the higher slope behind them. The other side has a similar problem.

Sediment has restricted the flow of the channel gradually during the last three decades. It now contributes to flooding.

Tucked into the tree line on either side of Bens Branch, you can see the maintenance roads that formed the top of the original banks.

During Harvey, many homes on both sides of the stream flooded. Many also flooded again during Imelda.

Walking along the creek today, the first thing one notices is a craggy channel with sides that seem to have slumped into the stream. Flood control surveys, however, show that is not the case. The channel filled with sediment. Then the stream eroded down again through the accumulated sediment.

Continual cycles of deposition and erosion have clogged, deformed and narrowed the creek.

Approximately 15,000 Cubic Yards of Sediment To Be Removed

Getting the channel back to its original state will require removal of approximately 15,000 cubic yards of sediment. However, engineers have not yet determined the exact number.

The scope of work will include replacement of damaged drain pipes that carry water to the ditch.

The job is still in its planning stages. Actual dirt work should begin sometime in October.

Funded with Help from USDA NRCS

A grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help HCFCD fund the project. Contractors will haul the excavated dirt to nearby TCEQ-approved landfill sites outside of the .02% annual chance (500-year) flood plain.

Looking north. The project will NOT extend into the natural portion of Ben’s Branch at the top of the frame, near Rocky Woods Drive. It will affect only the man-made portion of the channel.

Downstream, the project will stop at Kingwood Drive. Note below how the channel under the Kingwood Drive bridge is virtually twice as large as the channel in the foreground.

Looking south over Ben’s Branch toward Kingwood Drive and the portion of Ben’s Branch restored earlier this year. Note how constricted the channel in the foreground is.

When complete, this project should make the channel north of Kingwood Drive as wide as it is south of Kingwood Drive. It’s all about getting the channel back to its designed carrying capacity.

An exact timetable for the project is not yet available, but it will take several months.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/4/2020

1102 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Conveyance of Lower Ben’s Branch Nearly Restored

A flyover of the lower portion of Ben’s Branch on March 6, 2020, revealed that Harris County Flood Control has nearly restored its conveyance, even if some sediment still needs to be hauled off.

With most of lower Ben’s Branch cleaned out, the Kingwood Library (left), Kingwood Greens (right), and The Enclave (background) can now breathe much easier.

Among Hardest Hit Areas During Harvey

During Hurricane Harvey, some of the hardest hit areas in Kingwood bordered Ben’s Branch. Ben’s Branch cuts diagonally through Kingwood from St. Martha Catholic Church on the north to Town Center, Kingwood Greens, The Enclave, Kingwood Village Estates and Kings Harbor on the south. Post-Harvey surveys showed significant sediment buildup along the creek which reduced conveyance.

Twelve seniors in Kingwood Village Estates died after Harvey as a result of injuries sustained during the storm or the stress of losing their homes.

In August of last year, Harris County Flood Control began cleaning out the creek.

The project scoped by HCFCD is to remove approximately 80,000 cubic yards of sediment between the red line at Kingwood Drive and the YMCA at the bottom right of the circle.

Flood Control estimated they would need to remove 75,000 to 80,000 cubic yards to restore the conveyance. Despite a setback called Tropical Storm Imelda, the project has been moving along nicely.

Looking west from the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge at Ben’s Branch before the project started. To get a sense of scale, that’s a HCFCD surveyor in the yellow jacket!
The same area today (looking west from a helicopter over the WLHP Bridge (lower left).

Here’s how the rest of the project looks.

East of the WLHP Bridge (foreground), some sediment is still drying along the banks before removal. However, the channel is open again for business.
The long stretch behind the Kingwood Town Center Apartments has been restored.
The stretch just south of Kingwood Drive by ReMax still needs clean-out and touch up.
The area just east of the YMCA is still being actively excavated.
Same area, still being actively excavated near YMCA.

Merchants and residents alike should breathe much easier during the upcoming hurricane season.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/10/2020

924 Days after Hurricane Harvey

HCFCD Lower Ben’s Branch Clean-out Project Nears Final Stretch

The project to remove approximately 76,285 cubic yards of sediment from the lower reaches of Ben’s Branch in Kingwood is nearing its goal.

High-Priority Ben’s Branch Project Began Last August

This was a high priority project for Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) not just because of the sedimentation, but because of the destruction it helped cause during Hurricane Harvey.

  • 12 seniors from Kingwood Village Estates died either as a result injuries sustained during evacuation, or the stress of losing everything they owned.
  • Every home in the Enclave flooded: 283 out of 283.
  • All homes in Kingwood Greens flooded: 225 out of 225.
  • More than half the homes in Fosters Mill flooded: 346 out of 549.
  • The Kingwood Country Club flooded.
  • The Deerwood Club flooded.
  • 100% of the businesses in Kingwood Town Center flooded.
  • 100% of the businesses in Kings Harbor flooded.
  • Kingwood High School flooded to the second floor.
  • Kingwood’s library flooded.
Scope of project starts at red line on Kingwood Drive and curls south to the YMCA, where oval intersects West Lake Houston Parkway and blue line.
Construction crews today were working on both sides of the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge just above the Y.

The Ben’s Branch cleanup began last August, but suffered a setback during Tropical Storm Imelda. Much of the sediment that had been piled on the sides of the channel washed back into it during the storm.

Crews Making Up for Lost Time Since Imelda

Since then, however, Flood Control crews have been making up for lost time. Construction weather has been almost ideal. I took all the photos below on the afternoon of 1/7/2020.

Contractor pulls sediment from Ben’s Branch under the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge.
Just west of the WLHP Bridge, adjacent to Kingwood Greens in the background, another excavator was pulling sediment from Ben’s Branch and pushing it closer to shore…
…where yet another excavator was loading dump trucks. Contractors will remove an estimated 7,000 loads from the stream.
On the East side of the WLHP bridge, two more excavators tag-teamed more sediment. While one worked the shoreline…
Another broke up clumps of sediment and pulled it from the stream.
The current downstream extent of work is just north of the YMCA. That bend in Ben’s Branch behind the excavator is the final bend in the project.

For More Information

HCFCD expected the Ben’s Branch project to take 9 months. That would put completion in April. At the current rate, the contractor should make that date and perhaps beat it.

For more information about the project, consult the Kingwood pages of the HCFCD website. The project ID is # G103-33-00-X004 – Bens Branch Conveyance Restoration.

All Kingwood residents will breath easier when HCFCD finishes Ben’s Branch.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/7/2020

861 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 110 since Imelda