TEXAS CITY — A development firm led by an area physician this week said it planned an amusement park with vintage trains, an “iceless” skating rink, a zip line, go-carts and other attractions on 25 acres near the new Tanger Outlet Mall.
The developer, Harli Group LLC, has not submitted any plans to the city nor has it received any necessary permits or approvals. It’s unusual for a developer to announce detailed plans for a property without having had formal meetings with city officials who must approve such projects.
The venture, called Playland Park, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015 along the south side of Tanger Outlet Mall, 5884 Interstate 45. The amusement park would front Interstate 45, Dr. Harvey E. Slusky, president of Harli Group LLC, said in a news release.
Whether Harli Group has secured financing for the project is unclear. Harli Group, which is developing Playland Park, sent a news release this week to Texas City officials but did not immediately respond to interview requests by The Daily News.
Texas City officials in November confirmed they knew of vague plans for a park after Slusky, who practices internal medicine and cardiology in Webster, bought the 25 acres for the proposed venture.
Although Texas City officials are waiting to learn more about the proposed development, they are in favor of family entertainment venues, they said.
“Anything of entertainment for the young people of Texas City and surrounding areas we certainly would support,” Mayor Matt Doyle said.
The development will be named Playland Park, which was the name of Houston’s first real amusement park. It operated more than 50 years ago near where the now departed AstroWorld once stood. AstroWorld replaced Playland Park.
Doyle in November said it was his understanding that Slusky had family ties to the former Houston Playland Park.
Playland Park in Texas City, according to the news release, will operate historic “large-scale vintage 1860s ‘steam engine’ and 1960s ‘steamliner’ locomotives that previously transported millions of Houston Zoo patrons. The trains have been restored to their original condition.”
Each train will accommodate about 80 passengers and will travel about a mile of rail around the park’s various attractions, which will include an Eyerly Aircraft Monster ride, a carousel, twirling teacups, a tilt-a-whirl and a lazy river adventure ride.
The park also will include a “roller coaster-like zip line” and a skating rink with a synthetic ice surface. Playland Park also will offer “Indy-type electric go-carts.”
“One track will have a slick surface and no doubt prove extremely challenging — even for a professional NASCAR driver like A.J. Foyt, who got his start at Playland Speedway,” a Harli Group official said in the release.
The park also would include an indoor pavilion for large corporate events and for smaller, private functions, such as birthday parties and graduation celebrations, officials said.
There are no immediate plans for a roller coaster.
The Texas City development’s proposed tagline is “a Blast to the Past.” The entertainment center will be eco-friendly, yet have a “retro-Americana” feel, officials said.
Harli Group said it would eventually release plans for a second phase.
“Owning a family-themed park has been my dream come true,” Slusky said.
Texas City officials predicted Tanger Oulet mall would spur other development. So far, hotels and restaurants are scouting sites near the busy shopping center. Already, the iconic Texas convenience store chain Buc-ee’s is planning a 60,000-square-foot development near Tanger.
At a glance
WHAT: Playland Park
WHEN: Scheduled to open summer 2015
WHERE: On the south side of Tanger Outlet Mall, 5884 Interstate 45 in Texas City.
FEATURES: Vintage trains, zip line, go-carts, “iceless” skating rink