Development booming again in Sealy

1,500 homes being built

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From major, high profile projects to minor building renovations, the Sealy Economic Development Corporation currently has 36 “done deal” projects in the works with more prospects coming in all the time. That list does not include the grocery store H-E-B.

“We have been told by H-E-B that they’re coming,” said Robert Worley, executive director of the Sealy EDC. “There are two things that are really important to H-E-B. The first is new homes and apartments in Sealy.”

Worley said there are currently 1,500 housing units under construction in Sealy, most of them single family homes.

“The second is the completion of Interstate 10,” he said.

Worley said the combined capital investment of the 36 projects in Sealy is $450 million. He said with other pending projects not on the list that could swell to $700 million within a few months.

“I think that’s just phenomenal,” he said.

In a report he issued jointly with Warren Escovy, the assistant city manager and planning director, he said Sealy currently has a total taxable value of $774 million. “It took Sealy 141 years to get to $774 million,” he said, noting that the $450 million in capital investment will be added to Sealy’s tax base within five years.

“That’s the rock-bottom minimum that will make its way to the tax base,” he said.

The biggest of the projects is Hailiang Copper Texas, a copper manufacturing facility currently under construction at the site of the former BAE Systems. That project has a capital investment of $165 million. Hendrix Industries, a quartz countertop manufacturer, is due to break ground soon on a $35 million project. In the planning phase is a strip shopping center that will include a Taco Bell restaurant.

Several of the larger projects are housing developments. The Retreat at Sealy, a 196-unit apartment, is well into construction with a capital investment of $16 million. Harvest Moon Apartments is constructing a 75-unit complex ($8 million), another unnamed 90-unit apartment complex is in the planning phase ($8.1 million), Dove Landing, a 114-lot single family housing development is under construction ($11.5 million), and Hunter Crossing, a 158-unit single family housing development just broke ground next to Sealy Elementary ($20 million).

Not all of the projects will add to the tax base. Among those are the Austin County EMS station near completion and three others are for nonprofit organizations.

Of the 36 projects identified on the list, 20 are existing building and retail projects downtown, including a restaurant, eight are single-family developments, six are multi-family developments, five are manufacturers, four a retail, and the rest include a private emergency medical center, office/warehouse space, an RV park, a Head Start school, a self-defense school, a customer service facility, a physician’s office, and improvements to the Sealy Historical Society.

“Most of these projects I have on my list, if you drove through town you won’t see evidence of them yet,” Worley said.

Worley has 44 years of experience in economic development and he said he has never seen a city face such rapid growth. He admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a brief slowdown, but said activity is rapidly ramping back up.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in 44 years and I’ve been in some big markets,” he said.

One of those markets was in Bryan/College Station.

“This is double, triple, quadruple of what was going on in Bryan/College Station in the ’90s,” he said.

He said he is seeing a lot of developers buying land now without a plan for it.

“They’re telling me ‘Sealy is the place to be and I want to buy land here,’” he said.

Worley said he expects development to boom even more once the expansion of Interstate 10 is complete. He said the best part of what he is seeing is the growth isn’t dependent on a single economic sector.

“This is a much more diversified economy; I love the mix,” he said.

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