Real Estate / Neighborhoods

A New Boardwalk Aims to Make This Houston Suburb a Legit Tourist Destination

Are You Ready for the Lake Life in Katy?

BY // 12.19.18

It looks like Katy’s getting a major city changer, with new plans revealed for the long teased Katy Boardwalk District near Katy Mills Mall.

It’s been almost four years since initial plans for the lakeside project came out in January 2015, and the City of Katy’s now making moves with plans for a conference center hotel, luxury loft residences, entertainment options and a sweeping 90-acre nature preserve.

Also on the horizon: 155,000 square feet of retail space, with an emphasis on entertainment, bars, three to five restaurants along the waterfront, and 60,000 square feet of Class A office space, all of which will be designed by Gensler.

All construction should be completed in the next three to five years if plans proceed as expected.

Katy Boardwalk District’s office and retail space will wrap around more than an acre of public green space suited for outdoor events and activities. The lake and nature preserve will also include two sprawling, pedestrian-friendly miles of wooden boardwalks and walking paths.

“It’s going to offer Katy the opportunity to have both a natural oasis as well as an urban front door,” Kayce Reina, director of tourism and marketing for the City of Katy, tells PaperCity.

The entertainment, community and cultural hub will add a new dimension to Katy, bringing some energy to the city that residents typically have to outsource.

“Yes, we still travel to Houston for things. But we also want to be able to have some of the great amenities that Houston and other regional cities have here in Katy,” Reina says.

“Katy has grown substantially — there are 350,000 people between Beltway 8 and out in the greater Katy area. The people here want things that they can do in their own backyard.”

The master development agreement between the Katy Development Authority and KBH Venture will bring a full-service, four-star conference center hotel to the 169 acres at Katy Fort Bend Road and Kingsland Boulevard just south of I-10.

Expect a conference center of 43,000 square feet or more and for the still unnamed hotel a minimum of 300 rooms, a specialty restaurant, fitness center, pool and bar.

“From the tourist perspective, it’s unlike any other district, especially from the hotel and conference perspective. If you have a husband that’s going to a conference, he’s going to bring the wife and kids because there’s going to be tons of stuff for them to do. They can enjoy the outside, go shopping at the mall, enjoy all the great aspects of the district itself,” Reina says.

“Come for a weekend and have different experiences, all within a three-mile radius.”

The Typhoon Texas Push

The opening of the Typhoon Texas water park, right next to Katy Mills Mall, in 2016, intensified the push for visitors. Katy clearly wants to be something of an entertainment destination in its own right, separate from Houston.

The new Boardwalk project also aims to encourage more people — and not just families drawn to its school system — to consider living in Katy rather than the Houston. Katy Boardwalk District’s residential component, Lofts at Katy Boardwalk, will bring 319 loft-style upscale apartments with perks such as a fitness center, two resort-style pools, a resident lounge, outdoor cabanas with grilling areas and a business center.

Sueba Construction Inc. plans to break ground on phase 1 of the Lofts next month, with completion projected for the spring 2020.

There’s a lot new, but a significant tie-in to the tried-and-true.

“For us, it’s important making touches within the Boardwalk District so that you still have a piece of old Katy in it, to complement our history of everything we’re proud of that makes Katy a very unique place to live and a very unique place to visit,” Reina says. “For us, it’s creating the best of both worlds.”

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