No. These proposed changes are only meant to create mixed-use Activity Centers as identified in the 2018 Land Use Plan approved by City Council.
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Every city has a lifecycle and we have reached the peak of ours now. With only 4% of developable land left until we are completely built out, we know we are at the decision point where we can either be aspirational or go into decline. Doing nothing is not an option -- we can change or time will make changes for us.
Reinvestment means putting money into an existing asset (home, retail center, etc.) to bring the property up to new standards or trends in commercial and residential development. The City is exploring pilot programs that incentivize homeowners and landlords to invest in their properties and updating our development rules and services to encourage reinvestment across the city.
Simply, redevelopment is when an existing building and/or parking areas are demolished and a new development is built on the same site. It usually involves building more on the site than was previously there, creating density. Redevelopment can also occur when a current building is repurposed into a new use or to align with new market trends.
The City has limited land in its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), which is the area immediately outside of Sugar Land's corporate limits. All land surrounding the City is either already incorporated or in another jurisdiction's ETJ.
As described in the 2018 Land Use Plan, any new apartments built in Sugar Land will be required to be multi-story, urban-style apartments that activate the streets. Standalone, garden-style apartments are not supported by the Land Use Plan. Additional housing options that will be considered include townhomes, condos, duplexes, accessory dwelling units, and live-work units that support local entrepreneurship and employment. These new types of housing are an essential first step to providing pathways to homeownership and drive demand for existing and new dining, retail, amenities, and attractions.
The City cannot guarantee specific occupancy rates as retail is market driven by consumer demand. One of the key ingredients in a mixed-use development is housing which supports retail tenants. To support local retail, we encourage you to shop local instead of online purchases.
There is not a specific number of people needed. However, more people and housing are necessary for new commercial development and amenities to be supported. This will be driven by the market on a development-by-development basis. Accounting for annexation, the City’s population has only grown 1.4% from 2015-2019 (City’s Workforce and Targeted Industry Study).
The most important thing is to continue to grow and attract new residents by providing options for downsizing and pathways to homeownership for the younger generations.
Sugar Land is committed to ensuring our infrastructure can adequately support additional development. Periodic updates to our master plans through long range planning helps the City anticipate population growth in key areas. When additional utility extensions or transportation improvements are needed, the City proactively allocates funding through the annual capital improvement program (CIP). Additionally, certain site improvements are paid for by the property owner/developer, which helps alleviate the financial burden to Sugar Land’s operating budget.
The Land Use Plan is a guiding document that outlines policy direction and guidance for development, redevelopment and land use decisions. The plan is not a regulating document. The Land Use Plan furthers the Comprehensive Plan’s overall vision and sets out a specific land use vision and goals for the city and outlines actions that will achieve those goals to ensure Sugar Land continues to thrive.
Mixed-use zoning brings together residential and nonresidential uses in walkable, pedestrian districts. Examples of mixed-use places include office, residential, retail, and restaurants.
The Land Use Plan states that mixed-use development is a critical factor in maintaining the City's ability to continue to provide first-rate city services at one of the lowest property tax rates in the state. Continued commercial development is vitally important to Sugar Land from both an economic perspective as well as the civic services and amenities it provides to residents and visitors. The success of Sugar Land Town Square is a model for future walkable, mixed-use Regional and Neighborhood Activity Centers.
Yes. When we updated the Land Use Plan (a component of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which serves as a guide to how the City should develop and redevelop and evolve over time to reflect changing conditions) in 2018, we heard through that process that residents wanted mixed-use type areas in our community. They wanted not just a mix of uses, but they want us to create places where people can gather outside of work, school and their homes.
The City of Sugar Land is actively working on enhancing our community's quality of life through the implementation of new mixed-use zoning regulations. Amending the development code to allow for mixed-use areas within the City is an action step included in the Land Use Plan to accomplish this goal. These regulations are a direct response to the long-term shifts in market demands and demographic trends, as well as the desires expressed by our residents during the Land Use Plan update in 2018. These regulations aim to create vibrant Activity Centers that integrate offices, housing, retail, entertainment, and civic uses, providing spaces where people can gather outside of work, school, and their homes. With the introduction of two new mixed-use zoning districts, we strive to bridge the gap between residential and commercial land uses.
The Land Use Plan identifies:
The goal of the mixed-use zoning code and the proposed mixed-use districts is threefold. The mixed-use zoning code aims to:
We have been hard at work since November 2020, with our zoning experts at Clarion Associates to research the best way to implement activity centers as discussed in the 2018 Land Use Plan. Writing the mixed-use zoning code, including researching comparison cities, has taken a little over a year. We anticipate presenting a final mixed-use zoning code to City Council in Fall 2023.
Much like a vehicle that needs an oil change, our zoning codes need regular maintenance to make good things happen. City Council’s #1 priority is redevelopment because we are a community at a crossroads where we can either proactively blaze new trails into the future or lose our competitive advantage. While our zoning regulations control certain aspects of development and generally perform well, we also recognize they can also be too controlling in other ways. Without updating our zoning standards to keep up with the market and real estate trends and with surrounding communities, our community loses the competitive advantage we’ve historically enjoyed.
In terms of acreage, activity centers only comprise less than 7% of the City’s land.