GALVESTON — The dream of rebuilding the Balinese Room took a big first step Wednesday.

The city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment granted developers of the site a variance that would waive the city’s parking requirements for whatever might be built there in the future.

The city’s rules require that a commercial recreational business provide at least one parking space for every 200 square feet that the business uses. 

With the exception, the builders of the new Balinese Room are not held to that requirement.

Were it not waived, the rule would make the new plans for the site at 2107 Seawall Boulevard impossible to complete, applicant Michael Gaertner told the board. 

The bulk of the land on which the Balinese Room stood is under water.

“We really just don’t have a place to put parking on the site,” Gaertner said. “The cars would get really wet.”

Gaertner made an extensive presentation to the board regarding the plans for the property. Developers currently envision a venue far larger than the building that stood on the site before 2008. 

The current plan would include a building that could contain up to 16,000 people, including “two or three restaurants” and a 3,000-seat amphitheater.

“It would be very different from what was there before,” Gaertner said.

Because the building would be constructed over the water, it would be impossible to construct parking on site. 

Instead, Gaertner described a plan where the developers would lease parking space in other parts of the city and provide shuttle service to the venue. 

He also raised the possibility that the Balinese Room would provide chauffeur service to and from nearby hotels, and that pedestrians would be able to take advantage of a proposed trolley service that the city is considering.

The zoning board voted unanimously to grant the variance.

“Not only is it not contrary to public interest, but actually it is in public interest to grant the exception,” said board Chairman William Clement.

The opening of any business on the site would like be years away, Gaertner said. He said the next step would probably be applying for more variances or zoning changes from the city, to deal with issues such as height restrictions.

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com

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