Home to roost? Fast-casual restaurant chain Chick-fil-A is hatching plans for a Friendswood eatery. But a zoning change request for a parcel on which the chicken sandwich purveyor might roost has ruffled some feathers and has even become election fodder for the city council race.
Friendswood’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday unanimously voted to recommend a zoning change from “office park district” to “community shopping center” for an 8.4-acre parcel at Friendswood Drive and Leisure Lane. Only about 4 acres of the parcel is developable. The city council will consider approving the zoning change at a May meeting.
Some potential neighbors of the proposed shopping center attended the zoning commission meeting to protest the change, citing concerns about increased traffic. Councilman John Scott has made it one of his re-election talking points.
“The Leisure Lane/Eagles Point homeowners built their homes when the adjacent land was vacant, but they knew it would eventually be developed into an office park,” Scott said on Facebook. “They were OK with that. Now, the developers want to pull the rug out from under them. They didn’t buy their land to be next to a shopping center. The city should not treat homeowners that way.” The developer wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Councilman Carl Gustafson on Thursday said traffic is an issue at that site but that efforts to commission a traffic study at Friendswood Drive and Leisure Lane had a few years ago been scuttled by some council members. Tenants of a four-story office building would be able to see in the backyards of neighbors, raising privacy issues, Gustafson said. Most Friendswood residents would welcome a Chick-fil-A at the site, he said.
“I think the vast majority of residents would be excited to have a Chick-fil-A,” he said.
Chick-fil-A isn’t a done deal. And fast-casual sandwich, salad and soup purveyor Panera Bread also is rumored to be interested in the site if a developer is successful in building a shopping center there. Stay tuned.
Grocer gossip: Meanwhile, rumor has it a European grocer is considering its first U.S. grocery store in Friendswood. But officials are mum on the details. Stay tuned.
What’s that? Inquiring readers want to know about all that land clearing on a large tract on the east side of American Fence & Supply Co. in League City. Crews have begun work on the site that soon will be home to Honda Clear Lake, which acquired 27.5 acres north of Big League Dreams, south of state Highway 96, east of Calder Road and west of Interstate 45.
Honda Clear Lake has had a dealership at 20233 I-45 in Webster since 1990.
“We’ve basically run out of room,” said Bennett Johnson, new car manager for the dealership, which will keep its name after it moves to League City.
Look for crews to complete construction of the dealership in about a year. Until then, the existing dealership will remain open.
Southern comfort: Readers are buzzing about Plano-based Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar‘s plans to open at Baybrook Mall.
The growing restaurant chain serves farm-to-table fare with Southern flair. Made-from-scratch menu items include crispy fried chicken, mesquite grilled short ribs, wood-grilled pork brisket steak and more exotic dishes, such as Thai barbecue duck. The restaurant, of course, also serves up whiskey cake, a coffee torte with bourbon anglaise, spiced pecans and whipped cream. And it pours a wide selection of craft beer and small-batch whiskey, scotch and bourbon. No word on an opening date. Stay tuned.
Seeing Red: Meanwhile, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brew is planning a Baybrook Mall site next to Whiskey Cake Kitchen.
Naked truth: There’s a new smoothie and fresh juice shop in town. Misty Stevens and Shona Anderson have opened Naked Nutrition and Wellness inside World Gym at the Mall of the Mainland, 10000 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City. The smoothies are made with 100 percent fruit and water, without artificial ingredients or paste. They’re sweetened with Stevia. Naked Nutrition and Wellness, which sells supplements, gym gear and apparel, has joined the La Marque-Texas City Chamber of Commerce.
Boutique buzz: A fresh crop of retail shops and restaurants are moving into the island’s downtown.
First, Teresa Holland and Heather Mikel — a mother-and-daughter team — have opened Emboldened Elegance Boutique, 2211 Strand, Suite 101 in the Old Galveston Square Building.
Holland and Mikel always enjoyed visiting Galveston for vacation and hitting the shops, which inspired them to open their own.
“We fell in love with the city,” Mikel said. Both women live on the lsland now. Emboldened Elegance Boutique carries women’s clothing, jewelry, home accessories and gifts. But look soon for the boutique to launch a men’s line of clothing, Mikel said.
Spicy speculation: Meanwhile, rumor has it that franchise The Spice & Tea Exchange plans to open at 2311 Strand, in the space formerly occupied by Bear Claw Knife & Shear. The Spice & Tea Exchange offers spice, custom blends, loose-leaf teas, naturally flavored sugars, sea and mineral salts, gourmet gifts and accessories, according to its website. Stay tuned.
Raw deal: All that work at 418 21st Street is for Shucks, a raw oyster bar. Read more about it next week.
A tasting: Details were scarce, but what appears to be a wine bar is planning to open at 414 21st St. in the island’s downtown.
Title tattle: There’s more news about efforts to develop the site long ago occupied by grocer Gerland’s, 2402 45th St. on the island. One of the issues that has kept it from being developed — namely title issues resulting from a complicated ownership — is soon to be resolved, reports Max Sukiennik, an attorney for Michael Martini, who owns the property.
“It’s taken a long time to get the titled cleared,” Sukiennik said.
But the good news is:
“We are pretty close to a title company issuing a commitment for title insurance,” he said. “It’s been a long process. There are so many heirs. The Martini tentacles stretch a long way.”
Much of the work had involved getting the heirs to release their interest in the property, he said.
The property has much potential, officials say. Last week, this column reported that Mayor Jim Yarbrough and city officials were aggressively working to generate interest in the site among grocers, including Aldi.