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To start, the developer is proposing redevelopment of the Imperial Char House into an office building with associated food, beverage and retail. It is proposed that a portion of the Char House will house The Cannon, an innovation space that provides numerous workspace options, programming, content, and events, with access to sponsors, mentors, accelerators, incubators, and venture capital. The remainder of the 40-acre proposed project, which includes all currently existing historical structures, is a mixed-use walkable area including retail, food and beverage, office, event space, residential (including multi-family), with extensive outdoor green space. The top priority of the project is preservation of historic buildings as well as an emphasis on creating a vibrant, energetic destination for the community.
For more information on the inspiration for this project, please watch the video from the Town Halls here: https://sugar-scoop.com/2022/12/19/couldnt-make-it-to-the-imperial-char-house-town-hall-watch-both-sessions-here/
PUMA has purchase agreements for approximately 40 acres of land in and around the former Imperial Sugar site, including the Char House. PUMA does not yet own the property. To date, the City Council has approved the following:
This project is a joint effort between the City and PUMA Development for two main reasons: 1) Redevelopment of the former Imperial Sugar site is one of City Council’s top priorities and 2) due to the complexities of this site any development that meets this vision will require financial support to be successful.
Redevelopment of the former Imperial Sugar site is one of City Council's top priorities as it is extremely important to our residents and at the center of preserving the city’s heritage. Projects like this are expensive and complex. The City and developer will be maximizing the use of a variety of financial tools, including the City’s Economic Development Corporations, funded by a quarter-cent sales tax restricted for economic development purposes, state historical tax credits, General Fund, and private financing to meet the vision for the site.
To date, the following has been approved:
The City has tried for many years to secure a private partner and financially viable project for this site. PUMA’s proposed project is centered on redeveloping the Char House first, which is critically important to the City.
In December 2022, the City announced its partnership with PUMA Development to propose the redevelopment of the Imperial Char House. The City made a conscious effort to engage with the community. Two town halls were hosted on December 8 and 15, 2022 to hear clear information straight from the developer regarding the project and to gain public input on the proposal. You can watch both town halls here: https://sugar-scoop.com/2022/12/19/couldnt-make-it-to-the-imperial-char-house-town-hall-watch-both-sessions-here/
PUMA proposes to make the Char House improvements as part of its Phase 1 process, but the actual timing and sequencing of the project phases will be controlled by City Council through future zoning approvals. We recommend signing up for our email listserv to stay up-to-date on all the latest updates: www.sugarlandtx.gov/ImperialHistoricDistrict
Currently pre-development work, such as engineering, architectural, traffic analysis and other technical studies are currently underway. PUMA is also working on securing other financing sources, including historic tax credits. The next step in the zoning process is for PUMA to submit a Final Development Plan application for the first phase of its project, which will include the redevelopment and reuse of the Char House and its surrounding area. The Final Development Plan will require public hearings at Planning & Zoning and City Council.
PUMA has contacted Urbano Architects to begin focusing on the preservation of the Char House. This will include work that needs to be done to ensure structural integrity of the building and upgrades to bring the structure into compliance with the current International Building Codes (IBC). Urbano will be obtaining building permits to complete this scope of work limited to the Char House preservation efforts.
The Land Use Plan designated 526 multi-family units for the Imperial Regional Activity Center (RAC). To make this project financially feasible an additional 660 units are needed in the Imperial RAC, therefore triggering a Land Use Plan amendment. Previous plans, which included fewer multi-family units, were not financially feasible and therefore did not come to fruition.
The Land Use Plan is a guiding document that should be read and understood holistically, not as a mandate. The Plan is not a regulating document. The Land Use Plan states that periodic changes may be necessary to respond to demographic shifts and market trend and those changes should include public input and reviewed by the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.
Both the Land Use Plan Amendment and approval of the General Development Plan were the first step of a 2-step zoning process to provide a framework of development regulations and land uses, including multi-family, that can be requested in future zoning applications. These approvals did not grant development rights for new construction of the project to begin. Future zoning applications are required and will include traffic studies, school impact studies, infrastructure analysis etc. and provide opportunities for the public to provide feedback, including public hearings at Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.
The developer has been clear on the number of multifamily units needed to ensure financial viability and sustainability of the project. If the developer does not receive approval for the land uses, including multifamily, and density needed then the project will not move forward. Redevelopment is complex and this site is especially challenging for development and will require tradeoffs.
PUMA is the first developer who is willing to prioritize the preservation and enhancement of the Char House first before moving on to other aspects of the project. Therefore, the developer proposes to make the Char House improvements as Phase 1. City Council will control the actual timing and sequencing of the remaining project phases through future zoning approvals and a development agreement.
Over the years, the community has expressed a desire for more housing options to accommodate a variety of lifestyles and people at different life stages. This denser type of development also has other benefits, such as creating desirable workplaces for new, expanded and existing businesses, pathways to homeownership, public infrastructure improvements and quality of place amenities. This also helps maintain Sugar Land’s high-level of services and amenities while sustaining one of the state’s lowest tax rates.
To create a vibrant and successful mixed-use project, multi-family units – like apartments – are necessary. Ultimately, we want this to be a financially successful and sustainable development that will benefit our community for years to come.
The units will be luxury and anticipated to attract single and/or dual-income empty-nesters and young professionals. Price range will vary based on square footage of the unit, plus amenities offered by the complex. The developer estimates a price of $2.25 to $3.35 per square foot per month depending on the size/quality of the unit and the type of complex. For example: a standard 1-bedroom unit of 800 square feet may be $1,800 to $2,600/month.
Additional housing options that will be considered include, but not limited to, townhomes, urban homes, and duplexes. These new types of housing are an essential first step to providing new pathways to homeownership and drive demand for existing and new dining, retail, amenities, and attractions. These other housing options will be considered in addition to mixed-use, multi-family units – like apartments – that are necessary for the financial success of this program. Ultimately, we want this to be a financially successful and sustainable development that will benefit our community for years to come.
No. These are market rate apartments. The developer has stated the target market of the proposed apartments are single and/or dual income empty-nesters and young professionals, likely without children.
No. The Sugar Land Police Department analyzed police reports from 2019 to 2021 comparing multi-family and single-family housing in Sugar Land. When broken down by crime per housing unit, as well as multi-family housing vs single-family housing, there is no significant difference in crime. Additionally, Sugar Land has celebrated some of the lowest crime rates in our city’s history (both pre and post-COVID 19) after existing apartments were built in Sugar Land.
According to Fort Bend ISD, single-family houses generate more students for the school district than multi-family at a rate of 0.51 vs. 0.35 students per household. Data from Population and Survey Analysts (PASA), who is the demographer for Fort Bend ISD, states that newly built, market-rate multi-family properties typically have fewer students since rental rates are generally higher. Student to housing unit ratios is typically affected by several factors, including number of bedrooms per unit, age and class rating of the property, building style, campus attendance boundary, and rental price. A recent School Impact Analysis performed for a previous multi-family project showed that for a development largely consisting of studio and one-bedroom units, the ratio of students per occupied unit was far below the district average. A school impact study will be conducted as part of the second step zoning process for this project.
A Traffic Impact Analysis study will be required as part of this development as is typical with new developments of this size in the city. That updated traffic study is currently underway and will be considered as part of future approvals for the project.
TIA's help staff identify the effect of the proposed development on the City's transportation services including capacity, level of services, and safety and determines what, if any, necessary traffic improvements are warranted and the developer’s share of the improvement costs.
The Imperial Char House site has existing impervious areas (impervious area is any type of human-made surface that doesn’t absorb rainfall, like driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, etc.), which has been used as base conditions in drainage studies during the redevelopment of Imperial to allow for future development of the Char House site. Any impervious area that exceeds the existing base condition impervious coverage will require additional stormwater infrastructure to ensure water does not create an adverse impact up or downstream on Oyster Creek. Therefore, we do not have concerns area residents will experience flooding because of this development.
The Sugar Land Heritage Museum and the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center are aware of the details of this project and are being updated as it progresses. Both the Heritage Museum and the Children’s Discovery Center were originally placed in that location as part of the previously proposed project, Imperial Market. Both projects need people within proximity to thrive and be successful long-term so both would benefit from being in a mixed-use, walkable development.
PUMA Development and the City have contracted with Urbano Architects to advise on the historic tax credit process. Historic tax preservation works in three phases that are reviewed and approved by the Texas Historical Commission and the National Park Service. The City is currently in Phase 1 where its application is being reviewed and approved, with expected approval in the spring. The proposed work will aim to preserve and retain the historic character of the Char House and will follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The team’s ultimate goal is to give the Char House a new use with minimal changes to its distinctive materials, features, spaces and spatial relationships. Additionally, the Imperial Sugar Company Refinery Historic District has been acknowledged on the National Registry of Historic Places since 2017. This is an incredibly important funding source for the preservation of the Imperial Char House.