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The Woodlands Stays True to Its Purpose 46 Years Later

On the morning of October 19, 1974, a flag was raised to symbolize the debut of The Woodlands, a new hometown. Oil entrepreneur and philanthropist George Mitchell founded The Woodlands with the vision of an all-encompassing community where the natural forested environment would be preserved, and residents could live, work, learn and play. A Grand Opening ribbon was cut that special morning by George’s wife Cynthia Woods Mitchell.

The Woodlands began as a risk. The master planned community was located 27 miles north of downtown Houston, amongst a forest, with no nearby employment or shopping. At the time, the concept of a totally integrated hometown was new and unique.

Live & Work

Today, The Woodlands has over 118,000 residents. Nearly 2,200 business and corporations call The Woodlands home, including several Fortune 500 headquarters, providing nearly 70,000 jobs.

The vision of George Mitchell was to create 1.5 jobs per household in The Woodlands. The Howard Hughes Corporation has achieved this goal for some time now and it continues to remain a focus as the community grows.

“Howard Hughes has stayed true to the vision of George Mitchell, helping ensure The Woodlands is a self-sustained master planned community, a natural refuge that nurtures the best in family, quality of life and career opportunities,” said Jim Carman, President – Houston Region for The Howard Hughes Corporation. “I am honored that The Woodlands is one of the most acclaimed master planned communities in the nation and continues to be a global blueprint for environmentally responsible development.”


Hughes Landing


Environmental Preservation

For The Howard Hughes Corporation, the preservation and the master plan of the community is as important today as it was 46 years ago. The Woodlands continues to remain a trailblazer of master planned communities, leading the way in the practice of environmental preservation. Of the 28,800 acres in The Woodlands, 7,665 acres are now devoted to green space in parks, golf courses, greenbelts and open space. An unprecedented 28% of the community will remain undeveloped green space at buildout.



History of The Woodlands Town Center & The Woodlands Waterway

In the beginning, Mitchell also imagined a major employment hub. Early on, the developer designated 5,000 acres for retail and commercial use along I-45. While other communities may have immediately used this land for a quick residential sale, The Woodlands saved the acreage for its future Town Center.

In 1993, The Woodlands Town Center was announced. Today, it continues to be developed by Howard Hughes as a destination for shopping, dining, employment and entertainment. It includes Waterway Square, which offers Class A office space, hospitality, retail, dining and entertainment as well as Hughes Landing, a 79-acre mixed-use development featuring shopping, dining, multifamily, hospitality and Class A office space set along Lake Woodlands.

The Woodlands Mall, a regional shopping center with indoor and outdoor venues; and Market Street, a 34-acre, outdoor shopping center are also located here. Town Center also showcases one of the top outdoor amphitheaters in the world, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, which the founder’s wife helped spearhead with the developer. Since the opening of The Pavilion in 1990, Howard Hughes had stayed committed to supporting the arts and has been a major sponsor of performances and special events at this unique outdoor amphitheater.


The Woodlands Waterway


Prior to the opening of The Woodlands, a drainage ditch was conceptualized into a future waterway. It began with a simple “napkin sketch” diagram depicting a transit corridor through the heart of The Woodlands Town Center. Today, The Woodlands Waterway is a landscaped, 1.8-mile water feature and transportation corridor, linking urban residential living to shopping, business, dining and entertainment venues in Town Center.

The diagram was proposed by Robert Heineman, Vice President of Planning for The Howard Hughes Corporation, an employee with a 48-year tenure. Reflecting back on the project, he shared, “The completion of The Woodlands Waterway exists as a shining example of a commitment to a long range vision, which began as a simple diagram on a napkin.  Construction of The Woodlands Waterway began in 1999 in phases cultivating with a 2018 Grand Opening Dedication, a successful, nearly two-decade public/private partnership project.”



Nine Residential Villages

Mitchell’s vision also called for a Town Center surrounded by residential villages. The Woodlands now contains nine villages: Grogan’s Mill, Panther Creek, Cochran’s Crossing, Indian Springs, Alden Bridge, Sterling Ridge, College Park, Carlton Woods and Creekside Park.

The Village of Grogan’s Mill was the first village and opened in 1974. At first opening, less than 40 families resided in Settler’s Corner in the Village of Grogan’s Mill. The ninth residential village is Creekside Park, which opened on October 19, 2007, which marked the 33rd anniversary of The Woodlands.


George Mitchell dreamed of a community where residents could learn. Lamar Elementary was the first school to open in 1971. Today, The Woodlands provides a lifetime of education from preschool through primary, secondary, college and graduate programs. The community has 23 acclaimed public and 10 private schools.

In 1995, Montgomery College, which is now Lone Star College – Montgomery, opened in The Woodlands. The Woodlands also offers higher education at Lone Star College – University Center at Montgomery and Sam Houston State University – The Woodlands Center.


Play has been an integral part of the vision of The Woodlands. Currently 220 miles of hike and bike trails, 148 parks, seven championship golf courses and several recreational facilities are available for residents to experience nature and the outdoors. The Woodlands also boasts 14 community pools, six splashpads and 76 tennis courts. Riva Row Boat House and Lakes Edge Boat House are facilities which provide water sports activities to enjoy on 200-acre Lake Woodlands, which was completed in 1985.

The Howard Hughes Corporation is proud to have developed the parks, nature trails, boat houses, community pools and splashpads that once complete were conveyed to The Woodlands Township for residents to enjoy.

“We believe in the health and well-being of our residents and tenants,” said Carman. “Through the development of parks, pools, nature trails and recreational amenities that we have developed for our residents to the wellness initiatives we offer our tenants, we are committed to a healthy community.”




The Woodlands continues to follow the vision of its founder, George Mitchell. Through the years, The Woodlands has been recognized with several accolades, including Trailblazer of the Year by the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) in 2018; Vision Award for Exemplary Leadership, Development of Distinction from the Urban Land Institute in 2014; Master Planned Community of the Year by the GHBA in 2015, 2010 and 2007; and the FIABI Prix D ’Excellence World Premier Real Estate Award for all around excellence as a world-premiere community in 1993 – to name just a few.

If you haven’t discovered The Woodlands, what are you waiting for? Come see what has made this a special place to call home, work, play – or even visit.  Happy 46th anniversary and here’s to many more!

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