Pier pressure: Could the island see a new entertainment venue built on a pier over the Gulf of Mexico?
Details were scarce Monday, but rumors were making the rounds that a group of investors from the island and Houston plan an amphitheater and entertainment venue for the site formerly occupied by the legendary Balinese Room, 2107 Seawall Blvd.
More details likely will be revealed March 5, when the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to consider a special exception of commercial parking requirements on the seawall for the proposed development.
City rules required “one parking space for every 200 square feet involved in such use.” The applicant, however, hasn’t provided specific information about the proposed land use. The applicant, listed as island architect Michael Gaertner, however, argues that parking can’t be provided on the site or within a reasonable distance of the site, which is mostly over submerged land, according to city documents.
“New Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements require buildings to be elevated higher than previous requirements,” according to the applicant.
Also, the Balinese predates the adoption of the parking rules. Before Hurricane Ike, parking for the Balinese had been legally nonconforming. But after the storm, the site lost that status, which requires a review by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
The gambling hall operated on a pier 600 feet into the Gulf of Mexico during the 1940s and 1950s. Sicilian immigrant brothers Sam and Rosario Maceo ran the Balinese Room, which featured entertainment by Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, George Burns and other notable performers.
Later, businessman and attorney Scott Arnold operated a club at the site until Hurricane Ike pulverized it in September 2008.
Arnold has been working to sell the rights to the submerged land, which is controlled by the Texas General Land Office and leased to Arnold. Rights to the parcel of submerged land would allow the buyer to build a structure with a footprint of up to 27,000 square feet over the Gulf with 140 feet of street frontage on the seawall. Stay tuned.
Chasing waterwalls: Meanwhile, another iconic island spot is rumored to be getting a new lease on life.
Rumor has it that the downtown island building formerly occupied by Fullen’s Waterwall, 2110 Strand, will soon be transformed into a stylish club.
The 25-year-old Fullen’s Waterwall, which was best known for burgers, was hit by a wall of water during Hurricane Ike and didn’t return. The most recent occupant of the building, D’Vine Wine, closed in late December. Stay tuned.
Drive byes: It hasn’t been easy keeping up with all the businesses that have moved or are moving because of the Texas Department of Transportation’s expansion of Interstate 45 in the Clear Lake area. But the transportation department helped out by providing a list of businesses to which it has offered relocation packages.
Those businesses are: Chick-fil-A, T-Mobile, a Fed Ex office, Jack’s Carpet, Panera Bread and Mattress Firm. The state agency also offered relocation packages to businesses on the northbound side of I-45 at El Dorado, including Bay Architects, lingerie purveyor Cindie’s, Israeli Self Defense, Auto Buyers and a tattoo shop.
All the roadwork is part of a $93 million project to widen the existing six I-45 South main lanes to 10 and add more frontage lanes in each direction from FM 2351 to Medical Center Blvd.
Both Chick-fil-A and Panera Bread are planning to move not far away to I-45 at El Dorado Boulevard. But plans for the other shops weren’t immediately available. Nor was information about whether the state agency would make more offers to businesses.
On tap: Two new eateries have opened in the north county, and Biz Buzz has finally tracked down the owners of the West End island brewery. Look for those items and more in Thursday’s Biz Buzz.