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Friendswood Development Company's New Urban Community Named to Honor Well-Known Education Innovator

Friendswood Development Company's New Urban Community Named to Honor Well-Known Education Innovator

Friendswood Development Company’s latest urban land acquisition not only represents the developer’s third urban position but the reunion of a development company and family with a history that dates back more than 50 years.

Development is underway on Neumann Oaks, a gated community on a nearly two-acre tract of land located just north of downtown in the thriving Oak Forest/Garden Oaks area. The quiet, wooded area off North Shepherd has been the residence, sanctuary and inspiration for local artist Kiki Neumann, whose father Alfred R. Neumann was the founding chancellor and one of the very important forces behind the creation and building of the University Of Houston Clear Lake, where the library is named in his honor.

A well-known local folk artist, Kiki Neumann is renowned for her Texas license plate art that includes a line of greeting cards and new items that are about to make their debut in Buc-cee’s locations throughout Texas.  She is also well-known for her useful home and garden items and art created from cast-off urban heavy trash finds and is a regular vendor at the Texas Round Top Antique Show, First Saturday Art Market, Discovery Green, Texas Art Asylum and several other unique art venues. Some of her sought-after creations include upscale birdhouses and large custom metal letters.

The property she has called home for nearly 20 years, has been the place for a lot of great memories for Neumann who often rescued animals, planted gardens and even raised goats. The beautifully wooded property on Lehman Street is close to downtown and is surrounded by the increasingly popular Oak Forest/Garden Oaks area, yet feels far removed from the traffic and noise of close by North Shepherd.

Neumann has been approached several times over the years about selling her property but kept putting it off until an opportunity was presented to her in what she believes is fate.

 “I had been considering selling the property for quite a while but kept talking myself out of it because it has so much history and emotional attachment for me,” Neumann said. “And for as much as I love it here, it’s becoming more difficult to maintain.” She said that the required upkeep of the property and buildings was becoming more time consuming and demanding, and she longed for the opportunity to really focus on her true passion which is her art. It wasn’t until she was approached by a developer whose name she recognized immediately, that she decided the time was right to make a move. “When I realized that it was Friendswood Development Company, so many memories just came flooding back to me,” she said. “I had a flashback to one of the many Sunday dinners with my family as a teenager and on one Sunday in particular, when my father announced to our family that he had just gotten 500 acres donated to the University of Houston for a satellite campus in Clear Lake, which was a very new concept at the time. That land was a donation from Friendswood Development Company. I was familiar with their outstanding work and reputation, and their forward thinking and knew then that the timing and the buyer were right.”

Familial support further helped in Neumann’s decision to sell her property and move on to the next chapter in her busy life. Her brother Steve Neumann, who also happens to be extremely creative, has been an environmental signage designer for 45 years, and fondly remembers their family’s dealings with Friendswood Development Company.

The 487-acre land donation made by Friendswood Development Company is where Houston’s first university satellite campus was built to meet the academic needs of junior-, senior- and graduate-level students, many of whom were working in the aerospace industry and the new Johnson Space Center and lived in Friendswood Development’s new Clear Lake City master-planned community that had opened in 1962.

Neumann’s father, the late Alfred R. Neumann, was a highly respected educator as well as a linguist and an accomplished musician. Prior to joining the University of Houston in 1953, he was a professor at Tulane, Harvard and Michigan.  Neumann was named Founding Chancellor of the University of Houston Clear Lake campus when it opened for students in 1973. At the time, Kiki says she didn’t fully appreciate all of the hard work, sacrifice and time both her father and mother spent during those years of laying the ground work for the university, but is honored that his memory and legacy lives on the campus’ library and now, at Neumann Oaks. “I am so thrilled and honored that Friendswood Development is naming this community for my family and appreciate the great lengths they are going to in order to preserve the beautiful oak tree that is near the entrance of the property,” she said, “Not many developers would have done that.”

The stunning century-old oak tree will be a part of the extensive green space in Neumann Oaks that will feature Stone Twin Villas by Lennar, a duplex product that will start in the low $300,000s.  

“This is an outstanding location and a great opportunity for new-home buyers wanting a close-in urban location,” said Kayla Stewart, Senior Land Analyst for Friendswood Development Company. “In addition to abundant green space, the community will be designed to accommodate driveways and back yards for each home, an uncommon amenity in the urban market.”

Neumann Oaks will offer a single entrance off Lehman Street and will have 22 homes at completion. Jones-Carter is the consulting engineer for the community which is planned to open in spring, 2018.

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