Potty time: The 60,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s in Texas City is about a month from opening, Arch “Beaver” Aplin told T.J. Aulds, the The Daily News’ mainland editor. Aplin is co-founder of the Texas-based megaconvenience store chain known for an abundance of fuel pumps, clean restrooms and road trip fare, along with clever beaver billboards sporting bathroom humor.
Aplin told construction crews the goal is to open on May 5.
“But the drop-dead date to open is May 15,” Aplin said. So far, construction managers have not given any indication they can’t meet the deadlines, Aplin said.
“So at this point we aren’t exactly sure when we will open, but we should be on schedule,” Aplin said.
Crews are working around the clock to ready the highly anticipated store, Interstate 45 and Holland Road, and employees will soon begin training, Aplin said.
Medical alert: Will the Galvez Shopping Center soon get a sizable new tenant? Developer representatives have met with city planning officials to discuss the rules and requirements for constructing a 7,500-square-foot medical facility/clinic at the shopping center.
The building would rise on the last remaining pad site at the fully occupied center anchored by The Home Depot and Target, 6228 Interstate 45 on the island. More details weren’t immediately available. Stay tuned.
Building convert: A development group is considering converting an old Catholic church on the island into a residential duplex, according to city documents listing predevelopment meetings with planning officials. Representatives for the developer have met with city officials about transforming Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 4415 Ave. L, into a duplex.
Officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. The Galveston Architecture Guidebook describes the building’s style as “spare Spanish Mediterranean.” The church, which was a Spanish-language parish, was built in 1949. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston closed it in 1992, according to the guidebook.
Reverse rumors: Not so many years ago, speculation was rampant that American National Insurance Co. would leave the island and take its operations to League City, where its presence had steadily grown. But these days, the rumors are in reverse as American National moves some employees back to its skyscraper in downtown Galveston. Rumors are going around that about 130 employees have returned to American National. But that’s not exactly true.
In June, James Pozzi, president and chief operating officer of American National, confirmed the company intended by the end of 2013 to have closed its San Antonio call and mail center, which employed about 130 people. The move would bring some employees back to Galveston and League City and save the company about $3 million a year. Some employees returned to Galveston, some to League City and less than a dozen went to the company’s Springfield, Mo., offices. A few positions were eliminated. But some of those who went to League City’s South Shore Harbour offices are now moving to the island, Pozzi said. As the company has grown, League City offices are getting full, he said. Pozzi didn’t have the exact number of how many former San Antonio employees have returned to Galveston. But he does know that after a few years of hovering at about 800, the number of island employees has risen to about 1,000, the highest it has been for some time. American National employs about 700 people in League City.
Puff piece: The county’s electronic cigarette market continues to grow. Sam and Holly Grizzaffi have opened Firehouse Vapors, 2094 Marina Bay Drive in Kemah. The shop offers electronic cigarettes and handcrafted flavors that go in them. The couple three years ago extinguished the cigarette habit with the help of electronic, or smokeless, cigarettes, Sam Grizzaffi said.
E-cigarettes are battery powered tubelike devices that look like regular tobacco cigarettes. But E-cigarettes deliver nicotine from cartridges via water vapor. Two purveyors of e-cigarettes have opened in Galveston in as many years.
Use of smokeless, odorless, nicotine-delivering, cigarette-like products is gaining popularity and last year for the first time was reported to be a $1 billion industry, according to businessinsider.com.