Is This A Thing? What’s coming to CS and what’s not (Episode 6)

It’s been a long time since Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and Public Communications Director Jay Socol talked rumors versus reality in terms of restaurants, retail, and more. This episode of “Is This a Thing?” covers a lot of ground, including flip-flop scenarios about In-N-Out Burger.

Using examples of Academy and Gander Mountain, Nat also gives great insight into why vacant properties stay empty so long.

Total run time: 44:09

  • 00:00 – Show open.
  • 02:20 – University Drive: Kinds of businesses interested in University Town Center, its challenges; announcements by fall, then construction.
  • 05:45 – Chimney Hill: The Republic Steakhouse and Primrose Path; drive-thru Starbucks looks like a thing; what else has potential; the REAL story about In-N-Out Burger.
  • 10:36 – Burger Mojo update.
  • 11:50 – Century Square: Review of all the recent openings + what else is coming soon. How sustainable are all these businesses?
  • 15:43 – Northgate: Seeing more restaurants and retail interests. Food truck park. Small grocery has to be on the horizon.
  • 18:15 – Texas Avenue: Ace Hardware, Red Lion.
  • 19:15 – Pappadeaux status.
  • 22:05 – Honest talk about Harvey Road.
  • 26:15 – Why “available” buildings aren’t always…available. Example: The old Academy building.
  • 30:15 – Status of the Gander Mountain building.
  • 32:35 – Jones Crossing: Status of H-E-B and more.
  • 33:37 – Chef Tai’s Urban Table (I botch the name).
  • 34:15 – CapRock and Tower Point: Rx Pizza, Casa do Brasil, Ground Shuttle Transit, The Yard, Bottleneck Wine Bar, offices and more.
  • 36:05 – Gringo’s now has a building permit. Walk-On’s moving forward. TaD’s Louisiana Cooking.
  • 37:05 – Stella (from the owners of Harvey Washbanger’s).
  • 38:13 – New car dealerships.
  • 38:40 – Dunkin’ Donuts — anything?
  • 41:00 – Big boxes hit pause on new developments in 2017. Now, “the Amazon Effect” has forced brick-and-mortar brands to be creative with new online partnerships.
  • 43:51 – Show close.


CS primed for bright 2018 – but don’t take our word for it

No one is surprised these days when College Station gets ranked among the nation’s top college towns, as a great place for business, or as one of the best places to live.

The criteria publications and financial websites use to compile those rankings are usually based on data from the past year. The lists are usually divided into population categories, too.

A website called is different. This week it was bold enough to make predictions about what’s ahead by publishing a list of “10 cities Primed for Economic Growth and Opportunity in 2018.” It included cities as small as 5,178 people (Evansville, Wisc.) to as large as 947,897 (Austin).

By now, you’ve probably guessed that College Station made the list. Why else would we be blogging about it? But you may be surprised that we are ranked No. 1.

That’s right. CardRates says College Station’s economy could be as good as it gets in the entire country in 2018. In developing the list, CardRates took factors such as pay, cost of living and unemployment rates into consideration.

Here’s what they had to say about us:

College Station is located roughly equidistant from Houston and Austin. Although the city has seen a population increase of about 25 percent over the last 10 years, College Station, with fewer than 120,000 residents, is large enough to offer city amenities, while still being small enough to maintain that hometown feel.

College Station’s unemployment rate is well below the national average at 2.7 percent, the lowest among the cities on our list, and the median household income has grown more than 80 percent since 2000. The city’s largest employer is Texas A&M University, which has its main campus in College Station, and is nationally recognized as a Land-, Sea-, and Space-Grant Institution.

Here’s the full list:

We already knew we were doing pretty well, but it’s nice – and a bit exciting – to know others feel the same way.


Small Business

College Station and the surrounding community provide a variety of resources to grow and sustain success in small business operations. Below are just some of the services offered in the Brazos Valley.

Brazos Valley Small Business Development Center

Small business development centers provide free business consulting and affordable training seminars to small and medium-sized business owners and managers. Consultants are available to help businesses develop strategies, attract customers, increase sales, and improve productivity and profitability.
Learn more

Brazos Valley Financial Fitness Center

With help from volunteer financial professionals, individuals and families are taught how to develop healthy financial habits, build or increase savings, acquire assets, and plan for the future.
Learn more

Brazos Valley Community Loan Center

The CLC was created to provide a sustainable alternative to high-cost, short-term consumer loans offered by private lenders. Under a grant from JPMorgan Chase, personal loans of up to $1,000 are offered to the employees of participating businesses.
Learn more

Skills for Small Business

Through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), up to $2 million is dedicated to small businesses with fewer than 100 employees for training offered through either a local community or technical college, or the Texas Engineering Extension Service. TWC manages the college application process to fund specific courses selected by the businesses to train new workers and upgrade the skills of incumbent workers.
Learn more

Startup Aggieland

Startup Aggieland is a student-designed business incubator, accelerator, and co-working space. We help qualified student-owned startups leverage Texas A&M University resources and private support without relinquishing equity ownership in their companies.
Learn more

Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center

Hosted at TEEX, TMAC offers manufacturers extensive opportunities to advance business profitability in skills training, business process analysis, and practices to boost productivity, regulation-required training, supply chain development and strengthening, and product innovation.
Learn more

Workforce Solutions Brazos Valley

Brazos Valley businesses are eligible to receive a variety of specialized services, including job posting databases, skills matching assistance for employees, skill level evaluation for job seekers, labor market information for employers, tax credit application assistance, job fairs, and post-layoff rapid response services.
Learn more


The city offers those interested in developing in College Station the opportunity to attend a pre-application conference. PACs are typically held on Wednesday afternoons and, while not required, can be a helpful way to get development-related questions answered by City staff. If the PAC is for a preliminary site plan, please see the preliminary site plan checklist. Please note that any required plans must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the meeting in order for staff to perform research on the property and your proposal.

To schedule a PAC, please email or call 979-764-3570.

The building and development guide is a resource for developers that includes development review procedures, submission requirements and general development information.

The unified development ordinance contains all development regulations in one document and includes regulations pertaining to zoning and use, platting, site plan development, and building permits. The UDO also includes an overview of the development review bodies, review procedures, zoning districts, use regulations, development standards, and non-conformities.

Interested developers should also review the city’s site design standards, which are used to guide the design and construction of all commercial and multi-family private improvements in College Station.

Retail Snapshot

Available Properties


Midtown Business Park  | Subdistrict A
57.2 acres of General Commercial at Highway 6 and Pebble Creek Parkway  
Midtown Sub District B
5-acre tract at Highway 6 and Ventura Drive
6.01-acre tract at Gateway Boulevard and Lakeway Drive (Lot 1)
5.64-acre tract at Gateway Boulevard and Lakeway Drive (Lot 2)
6.09-acre tract at Gateway Boulevard and Lakeway Drive (Lot 3)
5.81-acre tract at Gateway Boulevard and Lakeway Drive (Lot 4)

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Featured in Retail

Providence Park
> Texas Avenue Crossing Shopping Center
Rock Prairie Marketplace
Century Square
Jones Crossing
South College Station at WDF Pkwy (2) | 38 acres | Map
University Drive | 80,478 SF | Map
University Town Center
> 1007 Earl Rudder Freeway
> Chimney Hill


Internet Capability

Wirestar, Inc.

City’s agreement increases Internet options

October 2015

The College Station City Council recently approved an annual agreement to lease spare city-owned fiber optic cable to WireStar, Inc., a local Internet service provider that will offer download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

The agreement brings competition into the local high-speed Internet market after Suddenlink launched ultra-high-speed service in July. It also marks the first time the city has leased its unused — or “dark” — fiber optic cable under an ordinance the council approved in March.

One gigabit per second – or 1,000 megabits — allows users to download songs, TV shows, and movies in seconds and quickly stream high-definition video. The ultra-high-speed connection can also help commercial users enhance their productivity and efficiency and serve as a tool to attract new businesses.

WireStar will pay the city $21,580 in annual fees plus maintenance costs under the agreement approved by the council on Oct. 8.

“This gives our citizens and businesses more choice and offers a different type of service provided by a locally owned company,” Place-6 Councilman James Benham said. “The dark fiber is available for any company to lease, and we hope it leads to better services for our citizens. We’re not the first city to do this, but we’re definitely on the leading edge.”

WireStar’s ultra-high-speed service will initially be available only for commercial uses and large apartment complexes, but could expand to residential areas. Customers can use a survey tool at to enter their address and request service in their neighborhood. If enough residents sign up, that neighborhood could potentially receive service.

“After years of work and cooperation with Councilman Benham and through the progressive vision of the City of College Station, WireStar Networks is pleased to be selected to enhance the communication infrastructure for the citizens of College Station,” WireStar President Kyle Leissner said. “By tapping into the city’s fiber network, we’ll use the existing infrastructure as a catalyst to expand and reach residences and businesses more effectively to deploy our competitive internet services.”

Benham says more high-speed Internet options will have a positive impact on local economic development and enhance the community’s quality of life.

“Ultra-high-speed Internet services are vital to our residents and businesses,” Benham said. “It’s important to be able to connect with the world and do it quickly. In the past, we didn’t take bandwidth very seriously as a city, and we lost companies and jobs to cities that provided those types of services. One of the best things we can do is to make sure we have the infrastructure amenities that business owners and entrepreneurs need.”

“It’s so expensive to roll out telecommunications services and put fiber optics in the ground or on utility poles. We had an opportunity to do something about it, and we did,” Benham said.



Fast Facts

Population, April 2020  (estimated population based on certificates of occupancy)

Unemployment rate, March 2020  (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Tax rate per $100 valuation

Aa1 (AA)
Moody’s (S&P) bond rating

Number of square miles in College Station

Street centerline miles  (includes state, county, city and private)

Miles of water lines

Miles of wastewater lines

Miles of distribution power lines

of power lines are underground

Number parks (covering 1,373 acres)

City of College Station full-time equivalent employees *October 2019

Oct. 19, 1938
Date of city incorporation

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Building and development
Strategic planning
Tax rate information


Natalie Ruiz, AICP
Economic Development Director
City of College Station
P.O. Box 9960 | College Station, Texas 77842
979.764.3527 |

Aubrey Nettles, MPA
Economic Development Manager
City of College Station
P.O. Box 9960 | College Station, Texas 77842
979.764.3423 |

Katie Crowley, MS
Economic Development Coordinator
City of College Station
P.O. Box 9960 | College Station, Texas 77842
979.764.3545 |


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