Engquist will soon begin infrastructure work on Materra development

    Infrastructure work is expected to soon begin on Materra—the 100-acre, planned community fronting Airline Highway and adjacent to Woman’s Hospital—with the first phase of residential development slated to wrap in early 2020.

    Developer John Engquist—who is partnering with Woman’s on the project—says he and the hospital are finalizing operating agreements and other documents, a process he estimates will take another several weeks. Once done, his workers will start building streets, implementing sewage and drainage systems, and selling lots to select builders—the latest sign of visible work on the mixed-use development since plans moved forward a little over a year ago. 

    Woman’s is investing some $20 million into developing the project, while Engquist-Level Homes and several others in a builders’ guild will eventually construct 275 spec and custom homes on single-family lots. 

    “We will be getting started sooner rather than later,” Engquist says, adding he will choose the homebuilders once the documents are finalized. “We think demand will be strong and are expecting solid absorption.”

    In the meantime, Engquist’s final development plans have been approved, with zoning and titles also in place and construction permits issued for the infrastructure work. The first phase of residential development would take six months, he estimates, wrapping up in early 2020. How quickly the homes sell will determine when phase two of the housing development would begin.

    When complete, Materra will include a mix of townhomes, small garden homes on 20-foot-wide lots, moderate-sized family homes on 50-foot lots and manor homes on 60-foot lots. Prices will range from the low $300,000s for the smaller homes to over $1 million for some of the manor-style homes.

    Meanwhile, the development will also feature some 15 acres of commercial restaurant and retail space, as well as 300 units of multifamily space. However, Christel Slaughter, who chairs the hospital’s real estate committee, says they haven’t made much progress on either component because consultants recommended they first develop the residential portion, then plan to attract retailers and, later, solicit a multifamily developer.

    “We want them to see that it’s real, and [the housing] will make the property more valuable,” Slaughter says of potential retailers, most likely restaurants and small drug stores.

    It will also give the hospital time to refocus its energy on the project. Woman’s is coming off the heels of a leadership shakeup, with four top executives—including longtime CEO Teri Fontenot—leaving their roles this year. Robert Burgess now serves as CEO.

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