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Riceland community in Mont Belvieu to deliver first lots, start first commercial building

November 30, 2023

Riceland, a master-planned community spanning more than 1,400 acres in Mont Belvieu in Chambers County, is set to deliver its first homesites and start construction on the town center’s first commercial building.

The 144-acre first phase will include 417 homesites ranging from 42-foot alley-loaded lots to 70-foot traditional lots, Riceland developer McGrath Real Estate Partners said.

All lots are under contract, with closings expected over the next four to five weeks, said Barrett Kirk, chief investment officer at McGrath.Homebuilders include Chesmar Homes, David Weekley Homes, Highland Homes and Perry Homes. The first houses are expected to begin construction in the first quarter of 2024 with delivery expected in the second. Pricing is estimated to start in the $350,000s.

The phase will also include several parks and trails. At build-out, the community could have about 4,000 single-family homes plus multifamily units, 30 miles of trails, a stocked 10-acre lake and resort-style pools.

First commercial building in Riceland Town Center

McGrath expects to start construction on a 16,956-square-foot commercial building in the first quarter of next year. The building, called The Mill House, is already 95% pre-leased, with an unnamed restaurant taking up 8,500 square feet on two stories and the Riceland Development HOA occupying 2,275 square feet of space. Another 1,000 square feet is available that would ideally be filled with a coffee or ice cream shop, Barrett said.

The Mill House will be the first commercial building in Mont Belvieu’s new 30-acre town center, on the corner of FM 565 and Eagle Drive, for which McGrath is partnering with the city. Earlier this year, the city opened its new two-story, 30,721-square-foot City Hall and new fire station, which replaced the old station. In between the new buildings, McGrath plans to develop additional restaurant space along an event lawn and eventually more commercial buildings around it.

The community is designed for residents to visit the Riceland Town Center without having to use a car.

“To be able to walk to Town Center, ride your bike to Town Center, have restaurants, have dinner or lunch on the green while your kids play, that's pretty special for this area of town,” Barrett said. “We think it will not only serve residents of Riceland but the greater Mont Belvieu area and even beyond that as a draw so well located off of the Grand Parkway just north of (Interstate) 10.”

The property for Riceland has been in the hands of the family of Randy Hopper, McGrath’s vice president of acquisitions and development, since 1824, when Texas was still part of Mexico, Hopper previously told the Houston Business Journal.

Over the years, it has been used for rice farming, cattle, hay and crawfish.

In the late 1980s, Mont Belvieu was basically moved about 2 miles to the east because it was threatened by a salt dome after a plant explosion, according to the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas.

The salt dome remains today, but local industry is managing its safety and using it as natural gas storage, Hopper said.

The Riceland Town Center will give Mont Belvieu back its downtown, a part of the city “that was lost to history,” according to Hopper.

The small town about 33 miles east of downtown Houston has grown to nearly 9,000 residents in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It more than doubled its population from 2010 to 2020.

Riceland alone has the potential to nearly triple Mont Belvieu's number of residents at full build-out.

By Florian Martin, Houston Business Journal