Here’s What You Need to Know About Living in the Houston Energy Corridor
As Greater Houston’s premier business district, the Energy Corridor has a fantastic reputation across the state (as well as nationally and even globally). Some of the world’s largest companies and smartest minds reside in this small district, which is growing at a rapid pace, and the future looks bright.
What is the Energy Corridor?
While everyone has their own rough idea of what constitutes the Energy Corridor area, it’s technically a seven-mile stretch of the Katy Freeway from Barker Cypress Road eastward to Kirkwood Road. It then extends southward along Eldridge Parkway to Briar Forest Drive. There is some small overlap between the Energy Corridor and the Memorial area of Houston.
As the name suggests, the Energy Corridor is home to some of the world’s biggest energy corporations. Looking for land for new offices and suburban campuses close to new housing developments, energy companies first began moving to the Houston area in the 1970s. But over the last half a century, local and state governments have poured millions of dollars into the area and have transformed it from an unofficial collection of energy companies into a bona fide business “district” with ample resources.
In 2001, the Texas Legislature formally created the 1,700-acre Energy Corridor Management District. In the state, management districts are actually special government entities that are empowered to levy commercial taxes to support investments in urban planning, infrastructure, district branding, public safety, and advertising.
Since this monumental move, the district has been transformed and is virtually unrecognizable (compared to the 20th century). There are wider roads, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, more landscaping, and extensive tree planting. Look at a snapshot of the area in 1995 and take a stroll through the area today; you wouldn’t believe you’re in the same place.
By some estimates, the Energy Corridor has more than tripled its total property value between 2001 and 2013 – scaling from $600 million to more than $2 billion. The volume of office space added between 2005 and 2015 was equivalent to the total amount added to the Energy Corridor in the three decades prior.
While the area is very commercialized and urban in nature, there are also more than 26,000 acres of urban park bordering the Energy Corridor. The two largest are George Bush Park and Bear Creek Pioneers Park. Both are part of a large flood control system for Buffalo Bayou.
Energy Corridor Business Climate
Obviously, the business climate of the Energy Corridor is healthy and thriving. Some of the largest international energy companies call it home, as well as more than 300 local, national, and multi-national companies. The highly educated workforce has more than 94,000 employees – making it the second largest employment center in the region.
Roughly 75 percent of the Energy Corridor’s 19 million square feet of office space is designated as class A. By as early as 2030, it’s anticipated that there will be more than 45.2 million square feet of office and mixed-use space. In other words, the Energy Corridor is expected to double in size.
Part of the reason the Energy Corridor is so successful has to do with the fact that so many prominent companies actually place their headquarters and regional offices in the area. These include companies like BP America, ExxonMobil Chemical, CITGO, Dow Chemical, Mustang, Shell Exploration and Production, and ConocoPhillips.
Non-energy companies are also fond of the area, with companies like Gulf States Toyota, Sysco Corporation, Star Furniture, and Cardinal Health Care Inc. putting their headquarters in the Energy Corridor.
Energy Corridor Amenities
While the Energy Corridor may sound like nothing more than a business park, it has far more to offer its residents. There are golf courses, hiking trails, world-class shopping, and more. Here are some highlights:
- George Bush Park. You can spend an entire day at George Bush Park and feel like you’ve been around the world and back. With more than 7,800 acres of land, there’s something for everyone. Jogging and biking trails are world-class, there are ponds, playgrounds, and pavilions for family cookouts, soccer and baseball fields for recreational fun, and even a shooting range.
- Top Golf. While not unique to the area, Top Golf has become a favorite activity in the Energy Corridor since it first came. The interactive driving range is much like a bowling alley. Pay for a “lane,” order some drinks, and start swinging. Microchips in the balls help you and your crew keep score.
- Athena Gun Club. If you’re a fan of shooting ranges, then you’ll find Athena Gun Club to be an enjoyable experience. It’s known as a “luxurious” gun range, offering boutique-style retail showcases and a courteous and conscientious staff that will help you with all of your needs. It also has a cigar lounge and an on-site conference room for business outings.
It’s also worth noting that the Energy Corridor has some of the best eateries in the area. “Exquisite dining choices abound in The Energy Corridor,” the district points out. “You can relax under the umbrella of a cozy sidewalk cafe or delight your palate at a popular Central Texas style barbeque eatery. Several fine restaurants serve famous Texas sized steaks and incomparable fresh gulf seafood. French, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, you name it, whatever cuisine you crave, it’s all right here.”
Energy Corridor Schools
Energy Corridor school zones are among some of the best in the state. Bush Elementary, for example, is ranked as one of the top schools in all of Texas. In addition to top public schools, there are a number of highly rated private schools in the area. These include Yorkshire Academy and Memorial Private High School. In 2016, the British International School of Houston opened in the area to serve some of the district’s large population of British expatriates.
The average high school graduation rate for the Energy Corridor is 92 percent, which is slightly above the average rate for Texas and well above the national average. High school graduates from the Energy Corridor are also much better prepared for college, with 31 percent of students taking Advanced Placement courses. (The average in Houston, as well as the state of Texas, is just 19 percent.)
There are also a number of top-rated daycare and child development centers, which give the thousands of working parents in the Energy Corridor many different selections to choose from.
Energy Corridor Real Estate
When it comes to the Energy Corridor, there are plenty of housing choices. Whether you’re looking for an apartment, condo, or single-family home, you can find something to fit your needs.
Property values have risen dramatically over the last 15-plus years. Over the past couple of years, the median sales price has ranged between $300,000 and $350,000. That’s roughly a 30 percent increase over the last 10 years. The good news, however, is that values are expected to continue rising over the next few years – meaning home buyers can build equity rather quickly.
That isn’t to say you can’t find affordable housing. Older three-bedroom bungalows can still be found in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, though they’re becoming more difficult to obtain. If you’re looking for something affordable, townhome and apartment developments like Grayco Townhomes, Grayco Apartments, Alliance Apartments, and Alexan Enclave are worth looking at.
If you’re in the market for premium, custom-built homes, the Energy Corridor has a number of gated communities like Parkway Villages, Lakes on Parkway, and Terraces on Memorial. There are also plenty of other affluent neighborhoods like Gaywood, Yorkshire, Nottingham, and Wilchester. High-income producing single professionals may prefer luxury lofts and apartments that can be found at Eclipse and Broadstone Memorial.
One of the greatest aspects of the Energy Corridor is that you can easily live on one side of the district and work on the other without having to start up your vehicle on a daily basis. There are a variety of commuter solutions, including the METRO, safe biking and walking paths, and a number of carpooling options.
Calling the Houston Energy Corridor Home
The name might not sound warm and inviting, but it’s hard to deny just how lovely the Energy Corridor really is. It’s an easy commute to hundreds of leading businesses, features top-rated schools, is filled with quality shopping, dining, and entertainment options, and has a variety of housing solutions for families of all sizes.
To check out some of the top properties in the area, please feel free to use our robust home search tool. It’s perfect for home buyers and real estate investors alike.