Lago lookout: Eight years after announcing plans for Lago Mar, a massive project that would bring thousands of houses and new retail to Texas City, Land Tejas Co. officials have begun preliminary work on the development’s first residential phase. Engineering and land planning work are underway and about 200 single-family lots are expected to come online by mid-2015, Collin S. Campbell, a development manager with Houston-based Land Tejas Cos., said.

Land Tejas has entered into a joint venture with Charlotte, N.C.-based Mountain Real Estate Capital, which has paid all the bank debt on 376 acres on the west side of Interstate 45, one mile south of the Tanger Outlets and adjacent to Sam’s Club, 6614 Interstate 45.

Aside from Lago Mar, Mountain Real Estate Capital, a private equity source for real estate developers and builders, has invested in three other Land Tejas projects in the Houston area.  

In 2005, Land Tejas caused jaws to drop when it announced plans for Lago Mar, a community on land east and west of I-45 from just north of FM 1764 to Holland Road. The Land Tejas property is all on the west side of I-45 and consists of 2,033 acres. Another 1,300 acres on the east side of I-45 is part of Lago Mar, but is owned by two companies not affiliated with Land Tejas.

Land Tejas alone is planning about 4,000 home sites in gated and nongated communities. Commercial projects have moved more quickly in Lago Mar. In the fall of 2012, the 350,000-square-foot Tanger Outlets opened; construction is underway on a 60,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s mega-convenience store and gas station; and an area physician has bought land in the development with plans to build a 25-acre Playland Park, which will offer amusements and attractions.

Land Tejas has conducted research on southeast Houston with Metrostudy, which provides information for the housing and retail industries. Based on the research, Land Tejas concluded that by the time the first lots come online for Lago Mar, there will be an extreme shortage of good developed lots and much demand, Campbell said.

Stay tuned.

Development drama: In more rooftop news, a development that could bring hundreds of new homes to Friendswood has been slowed and somewhat reshaped by city officials. Builder D.R. Horton about a year ago began attempting to build city support for a municipal utility district, or MUD.

The district would assist with the costs of installing and financing water, sewer and drainage facilities necessary for the development of a proposed residential community dubbed Georgetown on 389 acres along the Friendswood-Alvin border in Galveston County. But city officials haven’t agreed to the district. And council members had issues with proposed lot sizes and other aspects of the development.

Initially, most of the lots in Georgetown were less than 90 feet wide. Some council members objected, saying large lots were a big draw in Friendswood. Discussions continue, but it appears D.R. Horton has revised its plans. The most recent plans call for 589 lots — down from 802 originally reported. The builder also is proposing lots of 90 feet by 130 feet, according to a report by the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. About 25 acres of the development is reserved for commercial projects. Stay tuned.

Date with a doughnut: News that Dunkin’ Donuts would enter the county with a site at 2340 Marina Bay Drive in League City has been warmly received. So what’s the timeline? Look for a May or June opening, reports Jennifer L. Evans, a spokeswoman for Dunkin’ Donuts. Houston and surrounding communities are an emerging market for Dunkin’ Donuts, which sells coffee, sandwiches and other fare, along with the sweet treats.

Dunkin’ Donuts, which has 7,400 U.S. shops, plans to grow its U.S. presence to 15,000 in the next 20 years.

Although franchise operators already have carved out agreements allowing them to build more stores in the county, there are no immediate plans for more area Dunkin’ Donuts, Evans said. But Dunkin’ Donuts growth in the county is inevitable.

Biz birthday: Island-based Speedy’s Printing, 715 24th St. downtown, is marking 50 years in business. In 1963, Isaac B. “Speedy” Kaplan and his wife, Sophie, launched the business at the dawn of “instant printing,” a time when customers could wait at the shop for their printed products, rather than dropping off materials for pickup later.

Their children, Leon, Frank and Arriene, own and run the business now.

Speedy’s has seen a lot of changes. In 1969, the company became a Kwik Kopy franchise. But 35 years later, the Kaplan family decided to break away from Kwik Kopy and the company became Speedy’s Printing.

Leon Kaplan remembers an industry function in the 1990s during which a speaker held up a round plastic object and told the audience they were looking at the future of printing. It was a compact disc, able to store large amounts of data, drastically changing the industry. Now, Speedy’s Printing thrives in a digital world.

“We want to thank our customers and friends that have come in during this time period,” Leon Kaplan said. Speedy’s

Printing will celebrate its longevity with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 19. For information, call 763-1666.

Laura Elder is a reporter for The Daily News. Biz Buzz appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email your tips and suggestions to

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