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Westchase is a business management district, with some residential and retail elements, located in western Houston, Texas, United States. The district is bounded roughly by Westheimer Road on the north, Gessner Road on the east, Wilcrest Drive on the west, and the Westpark Tollway on the south (although some portions extend as far north as Briar Forest Lane and as far south as Bellaire Boulevard). The Sam Houston Tollway and Richmond Avenue also connect the district to the rest of Houston. Westchase is considered a "Special district" under Texas law; the district has its own board of directors (composed of key leaders from businesses in the immediate area) and provides supplementary marketing, planning and public safety functions for local residents and business. Westchase is adjacent to the Sharpstown, International (which includes part of Chinatown) and Energy Corridor management districts, as well as the master-planned Royal Oaks Country Club subdivision; Westchase is immediately north and east of the Alief community, a largely residential and commercial district, and is sometimes considered part of Alief.
More than 1,500 businesses reside in Westchase. Several are associated with the petroleum industry, of which Houston is considered a major capital. Major employers that have offices in Westchase include ABB Group, BMC Software, Chevron, Phillips 66, Dow Chemical, Halliburton, and Jacobs Engineering.
John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press said in a 2006 article that the segment of Westheimer in Westchase contains "virtually all chains -- a Geography of Nowhere wasteland of Boston Market, Borders, Kroger, Randalls, Taco Bell, Citgo and Sonic. Several of the six CVS outlets we passed are there, as are a few of the uncountable Starbucks." He added that the segment of Westheimer Road in Westchase does not have "the sleaze of the Highway 6 area and the tacky exuberance of mid-Westheimer, the area between Chimney Rock and Fondren."
The Westchase district is approximately 2,700 acres in size, with 16.3 million square feet of office space contained in 118 office buildings.
- 1 History
- 2 Economy
- 3 Diplomatic missions
- 4 Government and infrastructure
- 5 Education
- 6 Parks and recreation
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
What is now Westchase was land under the family of R.E. "Bob" Smith, a Houston rancher and philanthropist (best known for partnering with Judge Roy Hofheinz, among others, in the early 1960s to create what would become the Houston Astros Major League Baseball franchise). In 1969 Friendswood Development Company purchased a section of Smith's land to form what is now Woodlake, an upper-middle-class residential subdivision off Gessner Road between Briar Forest Lane and Westheimer Road. In 1973 the Westchase Corporation purchased 760 acres (3.1 km2) of Smith family land. As development expanded, Chevron and Western Geophysical were some of the first companies to establish operations in Westchase. The section of Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway) serving the area opened in 1988, increasing road access. It became clear that some sort of "master plan" was needed to provide for orderly development and marketing of the area. Legislation creating the Westchase District was passed by the 73rd Texas State Legislature and became law on August 28, 1995.
BMC Software is headquartered at 2101 CityWest Boulevard. In 1991 BMC announced plans to build a new headquarters complex, which it anticipated would cost between 60 and 65 million dollars. BMC planned to vacate two leased facilities in Sugar Land, Texas when its current headquarters, located on a 20-acre (81,000 m2) site purchased from Southwest Inc., opened; the land by itself cost over 8 million dollars. The 20 story, 120,000-square-foot (11,000 m2) tower was scheduled to begin construction in March or April 1992 and the facility was scheduled to open in late 1993. BMC temporarily subleased 90,316 square feet (8,390.6 m2) of space at the Permian Tower from Scurlock Permian Corporation until the headquarters was completed. BMC Software's current headquarters was one of a few office buildings being built within a two-year period prior to December 1992.
In 2012, after Phillips 66 split from ConocoPhillips, it moved its operations from the ConocoPhillips headquarters to the Pinnacle Westchase building, a 9-story Class A office building located on 8.4 acres (3.4 ha) of land in Westchase. This is a temporary headquarters location. Phillips 66 announced it will construct a new permanent headquarters on a 14-acre (5.7 ha) plot of land in Westchase. The new headquarters will be between Westheimer Road and Briar Forest, in close proximity to the Sam Houston Tollway. Construction started on Friday November 22, 2013.
Mariner Energy had its headquarters in One Briar Lake Plaza in Westchase (and was acquired by Apache Corporation, headquartered in Uptown Houston, in 2010). Geokinetics has its headquarters in Westchase. The Men's Wearhouse has its headquarters in Westchase. The Texas division of Safeway, which operates Randall's Food Markets, is headquartered at 3663 Briarpark Drive in Westchase. The office served as the headquarters of the independent Randall's company before its takeover.
Halliburton operates the Houston Office (a.k.a. Oak Park Campus) on 67 acres (270,000 m2) of land located in the Westchase district and in Chinatown. The complex includes the Latin America division of Easywell, a division of Halliburton. This office opened on a formerly vacant tract of land that was sold in 1977. At first the office was owned by Brown and Root.
In 2001 Halliburton announced that it planned to consolidate 8,000 employees to a newly constructed complex on the Westchase property by 2004. Halliburton planned to build two high rise office buildings with 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of feet total; the towers would have housed the construction, energy services, and engineering groups. The Halliburton campus as a whole would have had three towers, several parking garages, and skybridges connecting the buildings. In December 2001 Halliburton canceled its plans to relocate employees to Westchase, disappointing real estate figures associated with Westchase. The Westchase district had no tenant for the 67 acres (270,000 m2) of land where Halliburton had planned to develop a new campus. Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Business Journal said that it made more sense for the company to lease existing space instead of constructing new office space in times of economic downturns. By 2012 Halliburton plans to close its Downtown Houston headquarters and consolidate its operations at its new headquarters in northern Houston and at the Westchase office. In 2009 the Westchase campus had 1,700 employees; Halliburton plans to increase its workforce at Oak Park to 3,000 workers. At the Bellaire site Halliburton plans to build a 16-story tower, a two-story "life center," an additional parking garage, expanded child care facilities, auditoriums, and bridges to connect the many buildings. In 2009 Halliburton had about 1,000 employees worked in leased office space in Westchase. During that year Halliburton stated that it planned to vacate the leased space. The plans for the Oak Park office had been delayed by one year, and Halliburton expects completion in 2013.
Chevron Corporation occupies two buildings at 3901 Briarpark that were built by Texaco. The combined square footage in the buildings is 178,000 square feet (16,500 m2). In 2006 Chevron occupied another 290,000 square feet (27,000 m2) building on Hayes Road in Westchase; that building had been earmarked for sale during that year.
Maersk Oil has its USA office in Westchase. The Norwegian energy company Statoil has its flagship USA office in Westchase. WesternGeco operates an office at 10001 Richmond Avenue. ABB Group has offices in Westchase. The studios of KRBE are located in Suite 700 of the Chase building at 9801 Westheimer Road. Compuware has offices in the One Westchase Center building in Westchase.
The Westchase district is served by several hotels, from budget brands such as Motel 6 to business-oriented brands such as La Quinta and Courtyard by Marriott. Many are situated on or near the Sam Houston Tollway (the Beltway). The largest hotels in Westchase are a 600-room Houston Marriott Westchase (which opened in 1980 as an Adam's Mark, and rebranded in 2002 as Marriott) and a 300-room Hilton. A 130-room Holiday Inn opened in the district in the spring of 2011.
Westchase Shopping Center, located at Westheimer and Wilcrest Roads, is anchored by Target, PETCO, Ross Dress for Less and Palais Royal. Woodlake Square, located at Westheimer and Gessner, is anchored by Randalls, JoS. A. Bank Clothiers, Five Guys, Corner Bakery Cafe, and Walgreens. Carillon Shopping Center, located on Westheimer roughly between Gessner and the Sam Houston Tollway, features several restaurants, including La Madeleine, Schlotzsky's, Chili's and Outback Steakhouse; a handful of locally-owned restaurants are included in this facility as well. A stand-alone Kroger Signature supermarket is located nearby.
The consulate generals of Costa Rica and Indonesia reside in Westchase. The Indonesian consulate has been in Westchase since 1993, when consul general Achmad Surjadi purchased the 44,815-square-foot (4,163.4 m2) building located at 10900 Richmond Avenue.
Government and infrastructure
The Westchase Management District is headquartered in Suite 1175 at 10375 Richmond Avenue.
Two Houston Fire Department stations, Station 69 Westchase and Station 83 Royal Oaks, serve Westchase. Both stations are a part of Fire District 83. Station 83, a three-bay station, has an ambulance, an engine, and a squad; the station houses about nine firefighters per each four-hour shift. Station 69, located on Beltway 8 at Briar Forest, opened in 1980. The area around what is now Station 83 experienced a wave of construction of high density housing, which stressed the existing emergency infrastructure services. The city responded, holding a groundbreaking for Station 83 on October 8, 2002. The fire department assumed ownership of the station on February 14, 2005. On March 2, 2005 firefighters moved into the station. On June 1, 2005 ribbon-cutting ceremony was held.
The Houston Police Department's Westside and Uptown Divisions serve separate sections of the district.
County, state, and federal representation
Colleges and universities
The Houston Community College System operates community colleges for the Westchase area. The HCC Alief Campus, a part of the Southwest College, is located at 2811 Hayes Road in Westchase. The Alief campus opened in 2007.
Remington College acquired their Houston campus in August 1997. It was originally called Education America - Houston Campus and is now referred to as Remington College - Houston Campus (Westchase).
Primary and secondary education
Most of Westchase, which is south of Westheimer Road (Farm to Market Road 1093) and west of Gessner Road, is zoned to schools in Alief Independent School District, while the parts north of Westheimer and parts east of Gessner Road are zoned to the Houston Independent School District. The HISD portion of the community is within Trustee District VI, represented by Greg Meyers as of 2008[update].
- The portion inside Beltway 8 south of Westheimer and west of Gessner is zoned to Sneed Elementary School (Sneed Elementary is in the Westchase district), Budewig Intermediate School, and O'Donnell Middle School.
- The portion outside Beltway 8 north of the Westpark Tollway and south of Westheimer is zoned to Outley Elementary School, Budewig Intermediate School, and O'Donnell Middle School.
- The portion outside Beltway 8 south of the Westpark Tollway is zoned to Chancellor Elementary School (Bilingual students go to Youens Elementary School), Owens Intermediate School, and Alief Middle School.
- Westchase students in Alief ISD may attend Elsik, Hastings, and Taylor high schools, as high school assignments in Alief ISD are determined by a lottery.
The school zoning for the Houston ISD portion is as follows:
- Areas north of Westheimer and west of East Rivercrest are zoned to: Walnut Bend Elementary School, Paul Revere Middle School (Revere is located in Westchase) with West Briar Middle School as an option, and Westside High School.
- Areas north of Westheimer, east of East Rivercrest, and west of Gessner are zoned to: Emerson Elementary School, Paul Revere Middle School (with West Briar Middle School as an option) and Westside High School.
- Areas west of Gessner (whether north or south of Westheimer) are zoned to: Emerson Elementary School, Paul Revere Middle School, and Lee High School with Lamar High School and Westside High School as boundary transfer options.
Houston ISD operates Sands Point Elementary School in rented space in the Institute of Chinese Culture at 10550 Westoffice Drive within the Alief ISD boundary; the school opened in 1998.
Private schools in Westchase include Alexander-Smith Academy, River Oaks Academy, Wesley Academy, Woodlake Square Children's Center, Ascension Episcopal School, Children's World Learning Center, and the Grace Presbyterian Church and School. Westchase Methodist School is a preschool and kindergarten in Westchase.
The area is served by the Judson W. Robinson-Westchase Neighborhood Library of Houston Public Library at 3223 Wilcrest Drive. The branch is named for Judson W. Robinson Jr., who in 1971 became the first African-American elected to the Houston City Council.
Parks and recreation
The Westchase Park, operated by the City of Houston, is located at 9851 Pagewood.
Harris County's Tracy Gee Community Center, located at 3599 Westcenter Drive, is located in Westchase. The county bought the building, which previously housed a finance company, in 1991. Steve Radack, the Harris County commissioner who oversees the Westchase district, renovated the building. He named it after Tracy Gee (Traditional Chinese: 硃秀娟, Simplified Chinese: 朱秀娟, Pinyin:Zhū Xiùjuān), a Chinese American university student who was murdered in 1990; Radack said that criminals get publicity while victims do not get publicity, so he believed that the building needed to be named for a crime victim. The county opened the community center on September 17, 1993.
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