Quality of Life

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Like so many others in The Woodlands, he drives fewer than 20 miles a week.

“It’s very easy to get caught up in what we call ‘the bubble’ here. We have everything we need in terms of different types of residential opportunities, whether you want to live in an apartment, a condominium, townhouse or a single-family home,” said Carman, vice president of Master Planned Communities-Commercial Development for the Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp.

Every home really is close to everything else at The Woodlands — from the town center, where some 65,000 people work, to top-ranked schools and world-class medical facilities and from brand name retailers to Lake Woodlands, the township’s 200-acre recreational gem.

“Unless you want to go to a Houston Texans game or a Rockets game — and with The Cynthia Woods Pavilion here, concerts come to us — I don’t leave The Woodlands very often,” said Gordy Bunch, chairman of The Woodlands Township board of directors.

Bunch is not much older than the community oil-industry investor George P. Mitchell envisioned and founded in 1974 just 28 miles north of Houston.

“It was always the intention of Mr. Mitchell to have live, work, play and pray here,” Bunch said. “He was very intentional in setting aside land for churches and faith-based organizations.”

Bunch and Carman said the “work” part of The Woodlands’ experience began blossoming within the last dozen years, thanks to an influx of major corporations. Today, those include ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Maersk Line, the world’s largest shipping-container company.

While The Woodlands continues growing, Carman and Bunch say new developments that bring big opportunities still nurture the small-town community’s live-work-play culture.

Carman named several projects underway, including a 386-unit multifamily offering at Hughes Landing; new apartments at Creekside Village; a state-of-the-art MD Anderson Cancer Center; and red-hot shopping destinations and restaurants.

“There are a couple of new retailers that everybody’s really going to like,” Carman said. “There’s a really cool new restaurant concept that’s done quite well in other locations, and they’re expanding to the Houston area, and they selected us as one of their first locations in Texas.”

Carman and Bunch chose to make The Woodlands home largely because of family.

“I can go home for lunch. I can pick up my daughter from school and be right back to work, and The Woodlands truly comes with benefits that are hard to quantify,” Carman said.

Bunch arrived 23 years ago at the urging of his wife’s sister. Now he and Michelle own two homes in The Woodlands, where he’s also the founder, president and CEO of The Woodlands Financial Group, among other firms.

“When I moved here in 1995, this was the cheapest, safest place I could find to raise a family,” he said.

While his unpaid term expires in November, he hopes to be re-elected. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to serve a community of this size that’s been recognized nationally as one of the best places to live in the United States.”

Carman added: “It’s a special place and will continue to be a special place.”