The construction and congestion might be a headache for some -- but in just a few months the influx of multi-million dollar high-rises in what's being called the 'new Northgate' will soon attract more than 5,000 new residents.
City leaders are bracing for the change and they're calling the explosion in new development -- a 'turning point' for the future of College Station.
You can hear it. You can see it; and you certainly you can't avoid it especially if you find yourself commuting in -- and around -- the Northgate district.
"It's going to be crowded, but it’s a work in progress,” said Texas A&M student
The skyline of Aggieland is changing.
“I think the city has planned over the last 10-15 years to get this type of development and we put this infrastructure in place so that it would be available and possible,” said Bob Cowell, Executive Director of Planning and Administration for the city of College Station. “We are surprised, however, that it happened all at once. “
“I transferred here two years ago, and it didn’t look like this when I moved here, so it’ very exciting,” said Contreras.
“The biggest change is the number of people,” said Bob Cowell. “Obviously when you bring 5,000 people here, each with a car, their still going to get their groceries around town and so the roads around here, Texas and University will still get congested.”
Bob Cowell is the Executive Director for Planning and Administration for the city of College Station; he says there are an estimated 2,300 residents who already live in the Northgate district, but come early August, the two residential properties including the numerous retail shops below it -- will soon attract an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 more residents.
“There will absolutely be more traffic and there will be a period of an hour in the morning and evening when traffic will be pretty miserable, and of course at 3am when the bars let out at Northgate,” said Cowell. “But a lot of these buildings will have retail on the ground floor and some of the areas will be just retail so more of their trips can be made on bike and foot.”
Cowell says however, the city is working with TxDOT engineers around the clock to combat long-term congestion inside the 150-acre district.
For example, Church Avenue is the main thoroughfare through the two high rise buildings and it's currently getting a much needed,' friendlier' facelift.
“We've partnered with the developers to actually reconstruct that road and realign it to make it a better intersection,” said Cowell.
Construction is now complete on Wellborn Road and College Main; and according to TxDOT engineer Chad Bohne -- while it was one of the first projects to make the streets surrounding Northgate safer, and more pedestrian friendly -- it certainly isn't the last.
"We're doing everything we can to get ahead of the game,” said Bohne. “We'll be looking at a pedestrian improvements and possible median changes that will more focus on turning traffic so that it can be more understood by pedestrians to make it safer.”
The property that used to house the Plaza Hotel has now been re-named: North Point Crossing.
“Once the Place was torn down, everything was moving forward and the developer had to work out some details on the financing end,” said Colwell. “That has all been cleared and if you go to their site now, you can see they're prepping for some utility work and that will take place over spring break and once that happens they'll start construction.”
“It's been a challenge and it's been stretching our resources,” said Cowell. “We have four building inspectors who are having to go in and inspect all of these buildings, so it's a full-press city effort and it's working.”
It's a work in progress -- but just the beginning of a booming economy and a more attractive place where thousands of new residents will soon call: home.
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