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Up north in woods, more homes coming - Woodforest will add houses amid trees, trails


The developer of Sienna Plantation, Silverlake and Fall Creek is planning a residential community just north of The Woodlands.

The more than 2,500-acre project, called Woodforest, will have some 4,700 homes as well as commercial properties when fully developed, Johnson Development Corp. said.

The community is yet another sign that residential growth is continuing to spread beyond Beltway 8 and into new territory.

In addition to Woodforest's northern location, the community will share other characteristics with its neighbor.

Like The Woodlands, it will have a wide range of housing in a heavily wooded surrounding with plenty of parks and nature trails.

"The Woodlands has proven very successful offering a wide variety of housing choices and a highly amenitized community," said Doug Goff, senior vice president and director of land development for Johnson Development.

Located in southern Montgomery County, the project will surround the Woodforest Golf Club, a championship course designed by Steve Elkington that opened in 2001 east of Honea Egypt Road between FM 2854 and FM 1488. The development also will be accessible from the future Fish Creek thoroughfare, which will connect the area to Conroe to the north.

Woodforest is 38 miles from the center of Houston, a fact that doesn't concern its developers.

"In many respects, our commute will be comparable to the commute that residents of The Woodlands have," Goff said. "We don't have any concerns about its location and proximity to employment centers."

Realtor Pam Shaw said the northern Harris and southern Montgomery County area is booming because the commute tends to be shorter than areas west of town where traffic can be heavier.

Shaw also noted the importance of nearby amenities like hospitals, colleges and entertainment venues.

"The brilliance of these planned communities is they can do so much within them that takes care of everyone's needs," said Shaw, broker of record for Weichert, Realtors-Shaw & Associates in The Woodlands.

Officials at Johnson Development emphasized the community's environmental qualities.

Several creeks cross the property's rolling terrain. The land includes more than 500 acres within the 100-year flood plain that will be preserved in their natural state for recreational uses.

The community will have walking trails, which is the No. 1 amenity of choice according to customer surveys, Goff said. Such trails give residents the ability "to reconnect with nature."

A recreation center and "splash pad" for children will be another draw for buyers, said Virgil Yoakum, vice president and general manager of Woodforest. Yoakum recently joined Johnson Development after almost 30 years at The Woodlands Development Co.

To serve another segment of the population, several hundred acres will likely be set aside for the development of townhomes, apartments and active-adult housing for retirees or those nearing retirement age.

Homes in Woodforest, which will be served by the Montgomery and Conroe school districts, will range from the mid-$100,000s to more than $1 million.

Builders will be selected next year, Goff said.

The first section of lots will be ready for home construction by early 2008.

Founded in 1975, Johnson Development has been involved in numerous master-planned communities in the Houston area, including Sienna Plantation in Missouri City, Silverlake in Brazoria County and Fall Creek in Humble.







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