UH Heads West

University of Houston plans new Katy campus as population booms

University of Houston plans new Katy campus as population booms

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Officials are scouting out land in Katy for a new UH System campus. Courtesy photo
University of Houston Cinco Ranch
The UH System Cinco Ranch academic center. Studio Red Architects
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The University of Houston System plans to expand in Katy with a $46.8 million building project. Courtesy photo
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University of Houston Cinco Ranch
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University of Houston System officials are scouting out land for a new Katy campus with plans to build a state-of-the-art academic building. The project will be funded by $46.8 million in Capital Construction Bonds (previously called Tuition Revenue Bonds, or TRBs) provided by lawmakers during the recent Texas legislative session.

“In addition to constructing a state-of-the-art facility, we will continue to bring programs that meet the specific educational needs of the businesses and residents who are fueling the growth of this area,” said Jason Smith, UH System vice chancellor for governmental and community relations, in a statement.

"The new Katy campus will be in addition to UH System at Cinco Ranch, which will remain operational and evaluated as the transition takes place," a UH spokesperson said by email.

The UH System at Cinco Ranch currently offers 20 undergraduate degrees in such areas as business, biology and education. But the 37,000-sq.-ft. academic center at 4242 Mason Road, which accommodates about 1,000 students, is landlocked by development, with no room for growth, officials said.

The new facility will likely eventually replace the Cinco Ranch location, according to sources, although the specifics have not been determined yet. "The new Katy campus will be in addition to UH System at Cinco Ranch, which will remain operational and evaluated as the transition takes place," a UH spokesperson said by email.

UH officials had asked state lawmakers for a $60 million tuition revenue bond for a 60,000-sq.-ft. facility, according to published reports.

The area, which encompasses parts of three counties (Harris, Fort Bend and Waller) and three cities (Katy, Fulsher and Houston), is expected to double in population, from 305,000 to 550,000, in the next 20 years. Even though sluggish oil prices have recently affected employment in the area, the nearby Energy Corridor is expected to continue to grow during the corresponding period, officials said.

The UH Katy project was included in a bill that authorized $3 billion in construction bonds for building at universities throughout the UH System, including the UH Central Campus, UH-Downtown, UH-Clear Lake and UH-Victoria, and off-campus centers at Sugar Land, Cinco Ranch, Northwest, Texas Medical Center and Pearland.