Space still available, but interest growing, say property owners
After a period of declined activity over the past few years following the 2007 nation-wide recession, property owners in the Medical Complex Drive, Graham Road and Holderrieth Boulevard area are reporting an increase of tenant interest.
“The recession didn’t hit Texas as bad as it did other states, but there were some noticeable impacts,” said Richard Gatewood, a Realtor with Gatewood and Associates. “Banks weren’t lending, and because of that there was very little sales activity. Over the past year, we’ve begun to see an uptick.”
Although growth in the medical area has been slow in regards to new tenants, developers and builders continued to construct offices in Tomball during the downtime, Gatewood said. This resulted in an excess of office space for lease, which translates into growth potential as things begin to bounce back.
“I’ve leased, sold and managed property around the hospital for more than 10 years and the excess supply we have right now is like nothing it’s ever been,” Gatewood said. “The infrastructure we have in place here, and some of the other projects going on, are a good sign for the future.”
Between eight plazas in the medical complex area, seven still have at least one office space up for lease, but property owners like Gatewood and Morgan Cole of Cole Realty said they are optimistic things are headed in the right direction.
“I’ve gotten more calls of interest in the past six months than I got in the two years prior to that,” Cole said. Cole Realty is leasing space at the Tomball Medical Park off School Street.
New developments planned for Tomball’s medical center include the extension of Medical Complex Drive, the construction of new sidewalks and the opening of an orthopedic and sports medicine center.
Among the developers who took on projects in Tomball during the past few years is CIVE Consulting. The Houston-based commercial and residential development firm completed a 15,000-square-foot Tomball Medical Building at the corner of Hwy. 249 and Alice Road last fall. The firm is also in the process of building a 36,800-square-foot orthopedic and sports medicine center at 13606 Michel Road.
Consultants at CIVE expect the center to open around June. It will be designed to provide a setting for state-of-the-art outpatient care and will feature a gym, various clinics and other sports-related amenities.
Since opening, two tenants have moved into the Tomball Medical Building. Several tenants have committed to move into the sports medicine building as well, but CIVE officials could not reveal who would be moving in at this point in the process.
The city’s dedication to improving the hospital area can be seen in two major projects. The first involves extending Medical Complex Drive from Hwy. 249 to South Cherry Street, while a newer project involves the installation of sidewalks along Graham Drive and Lawrence Street.
In addition to making it easier for patients and doctors to get around, City Manager George Shackelford said investing in the hospital area is vital as Tomball continues to see growth.
“We want to make sure this area is well designed and capable of handling the increase in people we see taking advantage of the facilities here,” he said.
Funding for the $378,000 sidewalk project comes from money generated through the city’s red light camera system. Shackelford said this project aims to improve life for hospital patients as well as people who live and work in the area.
“The focus here is on making things safer for pedestrians, some of whom may be impaired in their mobility,” he said. “[The sidewalks] create easier access from apartments to doctor’s offices and retail areas.”
Since the Tomball Hospital Authority started up Tomball’s first hospital in the mid-70s, the medical area has evolved into something the city recognizes as vitally important, said Tomball City Planner Rebeca Guerra.
“Much like our downtown area, we consider it one of our true jewels,” she said. “Between the regional hospital and the specialized medical offices, we have many people come to Tomball to use the amenities we offer there.”
The renewed interest from doctors in moving to Tomball has also been noted by Tomball Regional Medical Center officials.
Over the past 15 months TRMC has stepped up its physician recruitment efforts, as well as invested more than $12 million on facility improvements, new daVinci robot surgical equipment and an expansion of the TRMC Sleep Disorders Center, according to CEO Bud Wethington.
The Medical Complex Drive extension is broken up into five phases. The city is focusing on Phase 3, which involves connecting the street from where it dead-ends in the hospital area through to Cherry Street. City officials are in the process of obtaining the land needed to complete the extension and hope to start construction later this year.
Existing sidewalks on Graham Drive will be extended to the front of the H-E-B on Business 249. Sidewalks on Lawrence will run from Graham south to Medical Complex Drive. City officials are looking at acquiring property, but the time frame for construction has not been determined.
New tenants to move to the area within the past few months include Family Medical Center at the Texas Professional Building, Dr. Waqar Khan at the Tomball Professional Atrium and The Heights of Tomball Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation on Johnson Road. Two new tenets—Family Diagnostic Clinic and Pediatric Healthcare—have also moved in to the Tomball Medical Building, which CIVE Consulting finished building at 27721 Hwy. 249 last fall.
CIVE is working on a sports medicine center at 13606 Michel Road, which is expected to be done by mid-summer.