More than 35 years ago, George Mitchell had the vision to develop a carefully planned community, nestled in the forest just 28 miles north of Houston. With a background as a highly successful independent oil and gas entrepreneur and founder of Mitchell Energy & Development Corp, he was certain taking a business approach to meeting the needs of families would lead to success for everyone involved.
Mitchell purchased 50,000 acres from the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Company in 1964. From the original purchase 2,800 acres was dedicated to the development of The Woodlands. Since then, another 300 purchases brought the total acreage of The Woodlands to more than 27,000 acres and it is still growing.
In the 1980 census, The Woodlands had about 8,400 residents. Reportedly, the population has grown to almost 110,000 because of combination of housing options and excellent schools. What sets the community apart is the commitment to nature with 7,790 acres of green space, 130 neighborhood parks, several small lakes and a 200-acre Lake Woodlands. Outdoor activities include golf, tennis, kayaking and more than 200 miles of hike/bike trails.
The Woodlands is divided into nine “Villages.” Each village functions much like a separate small town. They each contain at least one community shopping center, anchored by a well-known grocery store, drug store, medical offices, restaurants and more. Each village has its own parks, playgrounds and village association with officers elected by the residents of the individual village.
The Woodlands Town Center is considered the “downtown” of The Woodlands. With its 1,000 acres of shopping , dining and entertainment, it is where people gather for special events. Just like any other downtown area, you will find office buildings, town homes and condominiums. Featured areas include The Woodlands Waterway and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Visitors discover some of the finest retail shopping around in The Woodlands Mall, Market Street, Hughes Landing and Town Center. When you tally up all the attractions and special events, the Town Center attracts more than 20 million visitors each year.
The Woodlands is no longer considered a “bedroom community” with over 63,000 people finding employment there and 21 million square feet of commercial space for offices, research, institutional and industrial use.
The Woodlands Community Villages
Grogans Mill is the historic district of the Woodlands which opened in 1974 and was named after the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Company. When the village had its opening ceremony, William Shatner made a celebrity appearance. Popular for its dense, mature forests and convenient location, it is also home to The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center and three golf courses.
Grogans Point was developed with larger lots (about ¾ acre) and estate sized homes built over the decades. East Shore is a more recent development built closer to Town Center. Those who love living close to the bustling activity, yet on the shores of Lake Woodlands find this to be the perfect place to call home. There is always something fun to do nearby.
Two newer developments in Grogans Mill include Waterway Landing and Mitchell Island. Both are small enclave communities taking advantage of the ideal location. Waterway Landing is a 5 ½ acre development with 59 homes (18 on the waterfront.) Mitchell Island is a 10-acre private gated community with only 19 residential parcels, with developed lot prices at $1.5 million and up.
Opened in 1976, this village is named for the body of water leading to Lake Woodlands. It is home to Northshore and Southshore parks where there are outdoor concerts, a canoeing club and the iconic dragon sculpture called the Midgard Serpent.
Residents call this village “the happy village” where you’ll find The Woodlands Country Club, Palmer Golf Course, The Woodlands Recreation Center and The Woodlands YMCA – Shadowbend. It was opened in 1983 with a name to honor the Cochran family of Montgomery County who owned much of the land before the purchase by George Mitchell in 1964.
Artifacts from the Bidais Indian tribe were found in this area before development. The Village of Indian Springs was opened in 1984 to give tribute to those native tribes who lived in Montgomery County during the 18th century. This Village is smaller than most, yet is home to John Cooper School, the Interfaith Development Center, eight parks and some of the most rolling terrain found anywhere in The Woodlands.
One of the largest villages of The Woodlands, Alden Bridge was established in 1993. Roger Galatas was president of The Woodlands Operating Company at the time and named this village after his hometown of Alden Bridge, Louisiana. This village is adjacent to the Jesse Jones State Forest. It has both The Woodlands Christian Academy and St Anthony of Padua Catholic School. In this one village you will find 25 parks and 13 aquatic facilities.
When College Park was opened in 1995, it was named after Lone Star College and University Center, Sam Houston State University – The Woodlands Center and The Woodlands College Park Academy of Science and Technology. While it is one of the smaller villages, its proximity to Interstate 45 and State Highway 242 attracted world-class retail and medical facilities. You will find CHI St Luke Health – The Woodlands Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital and two active adult age restricted communities.
Harper’s Landing is the only enclave of The Woodlands located east of I-45. It is highly desired for its affordable home options and the ease of reaching major roadways, restaurants, retail and medical facilities.
When The Woodlands celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1999, it opened the Village of Sterling Ridge to honor the sterling silver anniversary of the community. It is home to the George Mitchell and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Library and has its own park and ride lot. You will find the Gary Player Signature golf course and four parks. It was the first village to have students enrolled outside CISD, with three Conroe ISD schools and one Magnolia ISD school.
Within the boundaries of Sterling Ridge, the first of two Carlton Woods upscale gated communities was opened in 2000. It all began in 1998 when The Woodlands Development Company contracted Jack Nicklaus to build the best golf course in Texas. Before the course was completed 50 new members had already committed to becoming a member of the club. While under development, a 5,000 square-foot tennis/fitness facility was opened. In 2003, Carlton Woods celebrated the grand opening of the 52,000 square-foot clubhouse.
For the first time in the history of The Woodlands, development extended beyond the boundaries of Montgomery County and into Harris county in 2007. This unique area has the feel of a state or national park with the George Mitchell Nature Preserve, the Rob Fleming Aquatic Center and access to the Spring Creek Greenway project. Students are part of the Tomball ISD where about 7,000 families will live when the development is completed.
The second Carlton Woods 500-acre gated community is inside Creekside Park. The Tom Fazio designed 18-hole golf course opened in 2005 and the 20,000 square-foot clubhouse celebrated its grand opening in 2007. Residents of both Carlton Woods communities love the privacy, security and family oriented features built in to their neighborhood.
The master plan set aside 1,000 acres adjacent to I-45 for a downtown district. The area sizzles with activity 365 days a year. Although more modern and well-planned than most downtown areas, the vibe is urban. Multiple shopping centers, movie theaters and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion are at the center of the constant activity. While the space accommodates visitors with more than 2,000 hotel rooms and 900 businesses, it is also perfect for urban residential lifestyle too. A wide range of condos, town houses and apartments are available right in the middle of the activity.