Feature Photo (above): Home builders’ signs crowd the corner of Cemetery Road at FM 762 by the south end of The George Foundation property. Fort Bend County has seen dramatic growth in new housing and the City of Richmond wants to see a hotel/convention center built somewhere on the charitable foundation’s land. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Richmond (Fort Bend County) — The City of Richmond has pending before the state Legislature a bill that would adjust the hotel occupancy tax and sales tax to raise funds for a hotel/convention center.
Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton, filed House Bill 486 in December at the request of the Richmond City Council. It would have the effect of capturing the state’s share of the hotel occupancy taxes and sales taxes from business transactions within a 1,000 foot radius of a qualified hotel and convention center project.
Texas State Rep. Phil Stephenson. Courtesy: Office of Rep. Stephenson.
If the bill is approved, it comes with a deadline; the city must enter into an agreement with a developer before Sept. 1, 2021.
A few days prior to Stephenson’s filing, the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court passed without discussion a resolution in support.
According to a City of Richmond legislative memorandum, the purpose of the bill is to enable the city to develop a hotel and convention center project “and surrounding ancillary facilities.”
The memorandum said Richmond is working in partnership with The George Foundation to facilitate development of the 336-acre Circle Oak property. The George Foundation is a charitable trust and the land development would provide a long-term revenue stream that will be used to help meet critical community needs.
The Circle Oak property is south of the boundaries of the City of Richmond and just north of FM 762. Interstate 69/US 59 cuts through the property, thus ensuring a high potential for commercial traffic. However, there are infrastructure issues due to its being in a floodplain.
“The Circle Oak property is bisected by Rabb’s Bayou and will require significant upfront infrastructure costs, including storm water detention. The infrastructure costs are estimated to cost up to $70 million. The proposed legislation will be a critically important tool in making the development of the property feasible,” the city’s memorandum states.
Richmond is negotiating to bring a 400-room hotel that will include 25,000 square feet of convention center space to a location somewhere on the Circle Oak property. The city estimates the hotel/convention center project will be a capital investment of at minimum $130 million, and it will create more than 1,000 construction jobs during the estimated 18-month build-out period, and at least 400 permanent jobs.
Google Map with graphic by Adolfo Pesquera.
Richmond claims that the economic impact will benefit, not just Richmond, but the other local tax districts–Sugar Land, Rosenberg, Lamar Consolidated ISD and Fort Bend County.
In the history of the state Legislature, since 1993, 37 other cities have benefited from the sharing of the state’s portion of HOT and sales tax revenue.
Richmond further notes that the George Foundation is committed to partnering with top-notch developers to create a high quality, mixed-use development.
“The development currently includes the 100,000-square-foot HEB Richmond Market, but the vast majority of the property is undeveloped. Brazos Town Center is located across FM 762 and encompasses approximately 2 million square feet of retail, dining, hotel, and entertainment uses. The proposed hotel and convention center project would differentiate the Circle Oak property from the Brazos Town Center by drawing in visitors from within a 4 hour drive time radius.”