Checking in: The island is getting much more hospitable. Hotels planned or underway will soon push the room count past 5,000, marking a major milestone for the seaport city. And that number doesn’t include the hundreds of short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfast properties in Galveston.
Here’s the latest hotel news:
Inn is in: It’s been more than two years since owners of the Mariner Inn confirmed plans to build a new hotel to replace the old one at 1602 Seawall Blvd. Issues over parking spaces slowed development of the hotel, which would have Gulf of Mexico views. Jalaram Enterprises Inc. has long planned a new 60-room property. But fitting that many rooms on the property, while meeting setback and open space requirements, was an issue. The city at the time required one parking space per hotel room. But newer zoning rules allow three-quarters of a parking space per room, which resolved some issues. Now, plans are moving ahead, the development’s architect, Michael Gaertner, said.
Mariner Inn was built in 1965. Information about when the new hotel would rise wasn’t immediately available. Stay tuned.
Room service: Meanwhile, more details about that mid-priced hotel soon to rise on Broadway have surfaced. Nick and Dee Singh are behind the four-story, 86-room Sleep Inn at 6702 Broadway on the island. Sleep Inn is a franchise under Choice Hotels International at 29th and Seawall on the island. The Singhs see strong demand for island hotels.
“I’m really optimistic,” Dee Singh said. “The cruise traffic keeps us busy during the off season.” Look for Sleep Inn, for which Gaertner also is the architect, to open in the spring.
Meanwhile, rumors abound that several full-service hotels are in the works for the island — one in downtown and two on the beach.
Altogether, there are 4,904 hotel rooms on the island. Limited-service, or mid-priced hotel rooms, outnumber full-service rooms — 2,394 full-service rooms compared with 2,510 limited service rooms, according to STAR Smith Travel research provided to Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.
As the dirt turns: More than a year after crews demolished the William Temple Episcopal Center building, 427 Market St. on the island, there are signs of pending construction.
All that dirt scraping is a prelude to a commercial building. But names of businesses that might move into the center are still top secret.
In 2014, J.T. Bolger bought the property from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
The property, formerly used by the diocese for outreach programs at the University of Texas Medical Branch, sat empty after Hurricane Ike damaged it in September 2008. Bolger in 2014 said the old building was too damaged to save and would build a retail center at the site. At the time of the acquisition, Bolger, who owns other island properties, said Starbucks was one of several retailers his firm was approaching as a potential tenant. But seeking a Starbucks and receiving one are two different things.
Jasper Tramonte of League City-based Tramonte Commercial Brokerage LLC, who is the leasing agent for the commercial center, said it’s far too soon to discuss names in a potential tenant lineup. But Tramonte did say the commercial development would be marketed to accommodate personnel at the nearby University of Texas Medical Branch and visitors to the institution. Stay tuned.
Home to roost: When one pollo purveyor closes, another opens. At least that’s the case in League City.
El Pollo Loco on Nov. 10 opened its newest restaurant, 2760 Interstate 45. It’s the first El Pollo Loco to open in League City and the 13th in the Houston market.
El Pollo Loco, which in English means The Crazy Chicken, is known for fire-grilled chicken, particularly the citrus-marinated variety. The 2,660-square-foot restaurant features seating for 64 and is the first in the Houston market to boast the brand’s “Vision” design, which highlights authentic, Mexican-inspired decor. The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based chain serves chicken meals, burritos, salads, quesadillas and more.
The opening comes after Pollo Tropical closed its League City eatery, I-45 and FM 646, nearly a year after opening. The surprising departure was among 10 Pollo Tropical restaurants that closed in October — eight were in Texas, according to Fiesta Restaurant Group, parent company of the chain.
“After a period of aggressively growing Pollo Tropical in Texas, we have hit the pause button to focus on building brand affinity, frequency and awareness, while continuing balanced system development over time,” Danny Meisenheimer, interim Fiesta president and CEO, said. “We believe closing or rebranding these underperforming stores provides the opportunity to further strengthen our operational and financial performance across the remaining restaurants in Texas and across our Pollo Tropical brand as well.”
Fiesta announced the closures in late October when it also announced a 1 percent decline in same-store sales in the third quarter, ended Oct. 2, along with a 4.1 percent decline at the company’s 171-unit Taco Cabana concept.
Fashion flash: Is this a chain in the making? A popular Clear Lake area shop known for high fashion and gifts has opened in League City.
Owners and sisters-in-law Judy Tabuena and Laura Bull have opened Adelaide’s Boutique, 6011 W. Main St.
Adelaide’s offers clothes, jewelry, beauty products, fragrances and more. The women opened the first Adelaide’s in 2008 at 14780 Space Center Blvd.