Slow going: It’s been a little more than a year since crews demolished the old metal building formerly occupied by cable TV provider Comcast at 8614 Teichman Road on the island to make way for the $8 million Gulf of Mexico Foundation center.
But aside from grass growing at the site, not much has happened there since. Officials said the project is still very much alive, however, albeit on a slower schedule than they would like.
Unanticipated construction costs have delayed plans to build the center for education, training and conservation programs related to the Gulf. Officials with the nonprofit foundation had hoped to already have completed the center. But the opening is still another year away, Quenton R. Dokken, president and CEO of the foundation, said.
Construction cost projections rose by $1.5 million after a report revealed the ancient marshland at the site would require triple the number of pilings originally expected, Dokken said. The effort to obtain a base Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating in the construction also has driven up costs, Dokken said.
The construction cost alone is now projected at $6.9 million. With furnishings and equipment, the total cost of the project is about $8 million.
Foundation officials have no intention on skimping on the building’s foundation, Dokken said. Nor do they want to scale back on the design, he said. So, the strategy is to raise more money, he said.
The foundation, which is moving its headquarters to the island from Corpus Christi, is financially supported by government grants and the private sector — largely oil and gas companies that drill in the Gulf.
The foundation so far has raised about $4 million for the center. But although the oil industry is flush with cash and profits, raising money hasn’t been quick and easy. A recession and governmental upheavals have chilled spending and some philanthropy.
The city’s Industrial Development Corp. last year agreed to give the foundation $200,000 of economic development sales tax revenue to pay for demolition of the building.
The foundation plans to spend about $2 million restoring productivity of the neighboring wetlands and adding walkways, observation decks and kiosks for visitors in a type of “sustainability park.”
The development is expected to bring up to 26 professional jobs and put Galveston in a national spotlight as researchers work to restore the Gulf upon which millions of jobs depend.
By conservative estimates, the center would generate about 900 hotel nights a year. Although officials want to preserve original design plans, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has nixed one element — a roof garden. Palm trees on the roof would become “missiles” during a storm, FEMA said.
The foundation hopes crews can break ground on the center by January.
“The project is alive and well,” Dokken said. “It’s as strong as ever, but going slower than we would like.” Visit gulfmex.org to donate to the foundation or to learn more.
Winging it: Rumor has it that plans for a breastaurant are bouncing around in the island’s downtown. For the uninitiated, breastaurants typically employ scantily clad women who serve guy-friendly comfort foods and beverages in a sports bar setting. Chicken wings are usually a staple at such eateries, which boast double-entendre names such as Twin Peaks, Brick House, Mugs ’N Jugs — you get the picture.
The downtown eatery would not be affiliated with a chain but would be independently owned, sources said. No word on the owner or the place. Stay tuned.
With sprinkles: When it comes to a presence in Galveston County, Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Donuts has long left a hole in the market. But after a long absence, the purveyor of coffee and baked goods plans to return to the county with a shop at 2340 Marina Bay Drive in League City, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership reports.
Some readers recall a time years ago when Dunkin’ Donuts operated a shop in Texas City. When and why the franchise closed is unclear. But Dunkin’ Donuts has been on a major push in the Texas market.
Last year, the company announced it had signed agreements with four franchise groups to develop 29 new restaurants in Houston and Waco during the next several years.
Daily Grind LLC, led by Garry Sams and Carlos Dos Santos, at the time said it planned to develop eight restaurants in southeast Houston.
Dunkin’ Donuts representatives did not respond to inquiries, including questions about when the League City shop would open. Want to talk about it? Visit Buzz Blog, galvnews.com.