Construction ramps up at Grand Texas
Big Rivers water park tentatively projected to open this summer
By Christopher Shelton| Posted Feb. 22, 2017 at 5:09 pm
Construction ramps up at Grand Texas Grand Texas Theme Park could provide some much-needed entertainment options in east Montgomery County in 2017 despite previous delays and construction challenges.
Construction has concluded on the first two elements of the 632-acre entertainment venue, including Grand Texas RV Park and Speedsportz Racing Park, which opened near the intersection of Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 242 in August and December, respectively, Grand Texas officials said.
Now, preliminary infrastructure work for Grand Texas’ water park Big Rivers is under construction on the site. Big Rivers is slated to be completed before the start of the summer, Grand Texas CEO Monty Galland said.
Inclement weather, potential construction mishaps and the scope of a development this large create variables that make predicting an opening date difficult, Grand Texas Creative Director Lance Martin said.
“We’ve got a big [goal] ahead of us—that’s trying to do everything right before we do anything wrong,” Martin said. “That’s why it’s taking so long. We have a lot of tasks that people don’t see.”Park elements
The Grand Texas Theme Park will feature five roller coasters, dozens of rides and an emphasis on live entertainment, Galland said.
The park’s theme is based on Texas history, which includes Spanish, Mexican and German influences. At its opening, Grand Texas will be about the same size as Six Flags AstroWorld—the 57-acre theme park that closed in 2005, he said.
Construction on Grand Texas’ namesake amusement park and a sports complex is expected to begin when Big Rivers—a 40-acre water park—is completed, Galland said. Construction on the theme park could take two years.
In addition, Grand Texas will feature several retail and entertainment elements, such as a factory outlet mall, four hotels and 450,000 square feet of retail and dining space in the park’s Downtown Texas section.
While the completion of the mall is 30-36 months away, construction on Downtown Texas is expected to begin when the theme park is completed.
“A region like this needs a big entertainment facility,” Martin said.Local Effects
For the east Montgomery County area, the theme park could create more economic demand, said Jenna Armstrong, president and CEO of the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The prospect of [Grand Texas] is huge for [the Greater Houston area], and that effect is going to be felt in the Lake Houston area,” Armstrong said.
Demand for housing in the area is expected to increase once major park elements open, said Brian Gibson, a community development manager For Friendswood Development. The company is developing more than 4,000 homes in Royal Brook and Tavola, two subdivisions near Kingwood, he said.
“We believe it will be a positive factor driving traffic to the area,” Gibson said.
However, after project delays and previous theme parks pitched on this tract of land that did not come to fruition, residents and business owners remain cautiously optimistic, Armstrong said.
Grand Texas was originally slated for completion in 2015 but was delayed because of the design limitations of the original engineering firm and delays in utility hookups, Galland said. Meanwhile, inclement weather caused delays in 2015 and 2016, Martin said.
Grand Texas finished construction of Speed Street—a quarter-mile road that created an entrance to Speedsportz Racing Park— in late November.
The $1.2 million project is the first phase of more than 2 miles of public roads that will be a part of Grand Texas at build-out, Grand Texas Communications Manager Jessica Marquez said. The developer expects to spend $3.5 million on road projects, she said.
While it is not directly related to the amusement park, the Texas Department of Transportation will expand Hwy. 242 to improve safety near the theme park in the future, TxDOT spokesperson Deidrea George said.
The $100 million project would widen Hwy. 242 from two to four lanes between Needham Drive in Conroe and Hwy. 59. The expansion could receive funding in 2023 and includes an overpass at FM 1314, which could receive funding as early as 2018, George said.