Rooftop report: Developments of single-family rental houses are part of a hot national trend that continues to take hold in the county, most recently emerging in League City. And the idea of a subdivision of rental properties concerns some members of the Bay Colony West Homeowners Association.
“People are generally afraid of things they don’t know about,” said Kevin Stuckey, vice president of development for Wan Bridge Group, builder and developer of 175 rental houses planned near Cross Colony Drive, behind Calder Road Elementary School. “What they’ll see here are very nice homes with front and backyards.”
Wan Bridge Group is building the three- and four-bedroom houses for unaffiliated company Bridge Tower, which will own and manage the development along with its portfolio of single- and multi-family homes throughout Dallas and Houston.
A sticking point among members of the homeowners association is that Bridge Tower has declined to join the organization, said David Hoover, director of planning and development for League City.
Some association members have called the city about their concerns and with questions about what the city can do about the development, Hoover said.
For starters, the city can’t require Bridge Tower to join the homeowners association, nor can it prevent it from renting houses, Hoover said. But it can require Wan Bridge Group to follow all the city rules, including exterior masonry requirements, building and windstorm codes.
About 32 houses already are underway at the development.
Some Bay Colony West Homeowners Association members are concerned the rental house residents might use the neighborhood pool without paying dues and fees. But tenants will have their own amenities and will be informed they can’t use the pool, Stuckey said.
The single-family rental business is one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. housing market, outpacing growth in both single-family homes for sale and multifamily housing, industry trackers say. A similar development is underway in La Marque.
“Growth in this segment has paved the way for builders to increase sales by selling to rental operators on a wholesale basis and prompted a number of developers to tap into the market with a new product: cohesive single-family rental communities filled by niche renters with lifestyle needs that are unlike those of renters,” builderonline.com reported in January.
Student debt, rising home prices, and the inability to save for down payments were just a few of the factors keeping potential buyers out of the market, industry observers say.
But empty nesters also are attracted to such developments, Stuckey said.
The houses, which will feature 10-foot ceilings on the first floor, will rent for about $1,800 a month, Stuckey said.
Home to roost: After months of construction, franchise owners are preparing for a mid- to late October opening of Slim Chickens, a fast-casual restaurant that specializes in hand-breaded, made-to-order chicken wings, chicken tenders, sandwiches, salads, wraps and more.
The Cain Holding Group, whose principals include Chuck Cain, Robert Drisaldi and Charley Donaldson, is behind the restaurant, which is on the southern intersection of Interstate 45 N. and Town Center Drive in League City.
Recent wet weather has slightly slowed the construction, Donaldson said. The Slim Chickens in League City will mark The Cain Holding Group’s seventh in the Houston area. The group also owns and operates 17 Panera Bread restaurants, 15 of which are in Houston and two in West Texas. The group, however, does not own the local Panera franchises.
So, while Slim Chickens is new to League City, the franchise owners aren’t new to the restaurant business, Donaldson said.
The League City Slim Chickens is the first south Houston area restaurant for the group, which found the city’s demographics and growth attractive, Donaldson said.
The group plans other area Slim Chickens, including in Galveston. Stay tuned.
Fence building: Inquiring readers want to know about the metal fencing around the Beissner/McCrory’s Building, 2123 Postoffice St. in the island’s downtown.
The city marshal’s office received word that the awning on the building had cracks and was possibly unsafe, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.
“We performed a visual inspection of the awning and the building,” Barnett said. “Our findings will require the owner to provide an engineering report for the awning and several portions of the building we believe to be unsafe. We also required temporary fencing to be installed by the owner to safeguard the public from a collapse, or partial collapse, of the awning. We have met with the property owner and will be inspecting the interior of the building in the near future.”
Randy Koplin, who owns the building, said he’s making repairs, although he and his engineer don’t agree with the city’s assessment that the awning is separating from the building. He plans to remedy any issues the city has, but also disagrees with the city that there are any problems with the building’s roof, he said.
Koplin replaced the roof in 2002, he said.
“It’s a roof type guaranteed for 40 years,” he said. “If they think it’s collapsing, they’re mistaken.”
The city also had issues with the historic McCrory’s sign. The sign isn’t connected to electricity and isn’t dangerous, Koplin said. It might have a few pieces of neon missing, which Koplin said he wouldn’t mind replacing.
“I’d just as soon it stays there for nostalgic reasons,” Koplin said.
Locals know the building best as McCrory’s Five & Dime, which operated there from 1930 to 1997. It’s also known as the Beissner Building, which was built in 1907 and originally used as office space.
The Galveston Historical Foundation has listed the building on its Heritage at Risk list.
Islanders were hopeful in 2013 when a potential buyer had it under contract with plans to develop apartments on the second and third floors and to secure a restaurant tenant on the first.
That deal fell through. Koplin, however, said he’s in discussions with a partner to develop condominiums at the building. Stay tuned.
Percolating panic: Talk about a caffeine buzzkill. Some readers this week arrived at Starbucks, 2808 61st St. in Galveston, to find the shop and its drive-through closed and construction crews removing features.
Officials with Seattle-based Starbucks didn’t immediately respond to inquiries, but crews working at the coffee shop the closure is temporary and for renovations.
No word on a reopening date. Starbucks also operates a shop in Randalls, 2931 Central City Blvd. and at 102 22nd St. downtown.
Coming soon: Meanwhile, there’s much to tell about Starbucks and Sonic Drive-In in Dickinson. Read all about it in next week’s Biz Buzz.