Talk with anyone who has been in Aggieland for even 3 years or more, and they’ll tell you the same thing.
“None of that was there before, now it’s just blown up! It’s everywhere!” remarks Shawn Henderson, owner of Grass Stains, a boutique in College Station. An Aggie whose most recent stay in B/CS has tallied almost a decade, she’s no stranger to the constant growth and development all around the county.
From Downtown Bryan to Century Square, Midtown to Jones Crossing, where there was once grazing pasture, grass, trees– Now, businesses and new homes.
Spencer Clements with William Cole Companies has a vision.
“We see [Lakewalk Towncenter] as one element of the Bryan/College Station region that can help this region grow,” Clements said.
He wants to use these developments, or micro-communities, to highlight what the Brazos Valley has to offer. Maybe people will want to visit again. Maybe they’ll want to stay awhile.
“[We want to] tell the world what kind of place B/CS is,” Clements said. “When visitors come to our market, they stay at the Stella, They say ‘that’s a pretty nice hotel; maybe I want to do business here. Maybe I want to start a company here!’ It gives them a great first impression.”
Clements knows that Lakewalk Town Center isn’t the end-all, be-all, to attract the next big business to the area, but he thinks it can be a key piece to the puzzle.
“We are going to have different subsets of this market that are attracted to here for different reasons, and that’s okay,” Clements said. “The family may want to live in a different place than a retiree, and a college kid may want to go to a different bar than the young professional and that’s fine. We need to create all those places like that.”
The goal – keep people here. For Aggies and non-Aggies alike, Clements has a lofty future picture for the area.
“You [will] have this collision of Aggie capital, Aggie ideas, in this B/CS marketplace, and you’re going to see a really robust, innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem sprouting up here that’s going to rival some of the great cities, and the great systems at universities in this country,” Clements said. “You’re going to see a lot of this transformation shift in the next 10 years here at Texas A&M and in Bryan/College Station.”
Henderson likes the idea, too.
“I think it brings a vibrancy to the community and excitement,” she said.
“I haven’t heard anything too negative… possibly a little bit of building too soon, too fast. I do think that’s a legit concern.”
Clements shares sympathy for potential sprawl, but insists that local leaders at the private, public, and university level are working to prevent unwanted congestion.
“If you’re not growing, or growing smartly, then we’re just going to sit here, and we’re gonna get old, and there’s not going to be anybody to backfill the jobs that they had,” Clements said. “Then the housing values go down, and you turn into one of those small towns in Texas that’s more of a ghost town, and that’s not what’s in the cards for this place. That’s not in the cards for Bryan/College Station.”