The Magnolia City Council approved a resolution April 9, to brand the central business district within the city limits as "Magnolia Town Center." This is good news for City Administrator Paul Mendes and former Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Rose Miller, both of whom have spent the better part of the last two years working on the city's comprehensive plan, which included a recommendation to re-brand the business area.
Traditionally, the legacy area of Magnolia included the streets and businesses around the intersection of FM 1488 and FM 1774, east to Magnolia Ridge and south to Unity Park – the actual Magnolia city limits area. But the heaviest population growth in recent years has been on the eastern edge of the extraterrestrial jurisdiction.
"We have worked hard to extend the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city all the way east to the edge of The Woodlands, so that Magnolia has plenty of room to expand," said Miller.
Recently, the east side around Magnolia Parkway has taken off, with new businesses going in every month. Many of the businesses on the east side of town also havelocations on the west side, within the legacy area. It is not unusual for two locations of the same business to both have FM 1488 addresses, but miles apart, with one located on the eastern side and one on the western side. This results in confusion for customers.
"This resolution was about branding and definition," said Mendes. "We really wanted to make it easy to define location."
He also stated the city wanted to preserve the name Magnolia Town Center to prevent a developer or builder from using it first.
"It's a lot like registering a domain name for your business so that no one else can get it," he explained.
The Magnolia Town Center will also have a more defined business area. Mendes pointed out that the widening of FM 1774 is now slated to begin in June of this year and will take about 20 months to complete.
Following the widening, a sidewalk will be installed along the west side of FM 1774 from FM 1488 to the school, which will make it easier for people to walk in the area and visit multiple shops.
Magnolia businesses are ready to start defining their location as part of the Magnolia Town Center.
Several believe the new nomenclature will clear up any confusion about which part of the city they are located in and others just believe the new name has a positive ring.
Rene Benitez, owner of Las Fuentes Mexican Restaurant, appreciates the new name.
"We had a location on both ends of FM 1488 and there was a lot of confusion. This will definitely clear that up," he stated.
Papa John's Pizza has multiple Magnolia locations, which are actually owned by different franchises.
Jake Schaub, shift manager of the central Magnolia store, feels the new term will make it easier to define where his store is.
"When people call, we always need to give them directions to make sure they have the location they want," he said. "We usually say we are in the heart of Magnolia, but this name will simplify things for us."
Viren Vansadia and his wife Lila own the Magnolia Inn & Suites and haven't found that customers are confused about their location. Vinsadia does like the new name, however.
"Magnolia Town Center sounds better; it's a more upscale name than 'Magnolia West' or 'Magnolia East.' It's a good idea," he said.
Miller wants the new brand to help provide a positive connotation for Magnolia by imparting a dynamic, yet historical, identification for the central business area.
"This is one way we can demonstrate that the city population is actually more than the thousand-plus that was shown on our sign for years and years," she said. "We are now at more than 138,000 and we are starting to look like it."