Pier review: After many years and attempts at commercial development on the site of the island’s famous Balinese Room, one of the county’s most prolific developers is promising less talk and more action.
“It’s happening,” Jerome Karam, a principal in JMK5 Holdings, said this week.
JMK5 Holdings has acquired the rights to develop on the property, 2107 Seawall Blvd., from businessman Scott Arnold, who has 30 years remaining on a lease with the Texas General Land Office.
The land office issues commercial leases and easements for coastal projects that produce revenue from the private use of state-owned submerged land.
JMK5 Holdings plans a 27,000-square-foot deck with two restaurants — 8,000 square feet each. Preliminary plans call for four short-term rentals atop one of the restaurants and possibly some event/dance space that would evoke the heyday of the Balinese Room, a gambling hall operated on a pier 600 feet into the Gulf of Mexico during the 1940s and 1950s. Sicilian immigrant brothers Sam and Rosario Maceo ran the Balinese Room, which attracted Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, George Burns and other notable performers.
Later, Arnold operated a club at the site until Hurricane Ike pulverized it in September 2008.
Arnold long has been working to sell the rights to the submerged land. Rights to the parcel would allow the buyer to build a structure with a footprint of up to 27,000 square feet over the Gulf with 140 feet of street frontage on the seawall.
Permits already are secured for development, which could begin this year, Karam said.
JMK5 Holding’s wide-ranging and high-profile projects include: transforming the struggling Mall of the Mainland, 10000 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City, into a thriving entertainment complex called Mainland City Centre; redeveloping the Falstaff Brewery, 3303 Church St. in Galveston, into an event center, storage facilities and future site of a boutique hotel; and most recently acquiring the idled Gulf Greyhound Park with plans to transform it into a 12,000-seat A-list concert venue. Stay tuned.
Supermassive: Meanwhile, JMK5 Holdings has more reason to be over the moon. Axiom Space this week agreed to lease 190,000 square feet of space at 600 Gemini Ave. in Webster.
JMK5 acquired the 365,000-square-foot Webster office building late last year. Axiom intends to use the building to develop spacesuits astronauts will wear on NASA‘s first crewed landing on the moon in more than 50 years.
NASA earlier this month awarded a $228.5 million task order to Axiom Space to design, develop and produce spacesuits for the Artemis 3 mission, in which NASA will collaborate with commercial and international partners to establish the first long-term presence on the moon before taking a giant leap — sending the first astronauts to Mars.
This lease marks the second time Axiom has been involved in a supermassive real estate transaction in Webster. Earlier this year, Webster announced Axiom was taking over the 147,000-square-foot former Fry’s Electronics building, 21300 Interstate 45. The Fry’s building will house Axiom’s division tasked with creating Axiom Station, the world’s first commercial space station.
Catch of the day: Inquiring islanders are wondering what’s soon to rise on a parcel roughly in the 1200 block of Seawall Boulevard. City officials declined to name the owners, but Galveston Central Appraisal District lists Katie’s Seafood Restaurant LLC as owners of at least eight parcels in the general vicinity, including 1128 Seawall Blvd., 1410 12th St. and 1101 Ave. M ½.
Activity on part of Avenue N that goes from 12th to seawall, from which “For Sale” signs have been removed, is piquing curiosity.
“The alley between Avenue M ½ and N has been approved by council to be sold and the new owner is working on completing that process,” said Catherine Gorman, assistant director of development services for the city of Galveston. “That includes some work to reroute the utilities that are in the alley. That may be what the digging in the middle is for.”
Buddy Guindon, whose family two years ago opened Katie’s Seafood House on Pier 19 and also owns Katie’s Seafood Market on the waterfront, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Stay tuned.
Salad days: Can you get healthy food through a drive-through? Arizona-based Salad and Go says so, and it’s bringing its drive-through concept to League City, 2590 E. League City Blvd. That Salad and Go location has undergone several inspections, but an opening date wasn’t immediately available. Meanwhile, the purveyor of salads, wraps and soups has applied for a permit for a second site, 1930 W. League City Parkway, city officials said. That permit still is under review, officials said.
Unlike popular salad chain Salata, which operates in Pinnacle Park in League City, Salad and Go doesn’t offer dine-in service or delivery. But it’s finding success with its drive-through only model, according to various business reports.
By the slice: Healthy food from a drive-through and pizza from a vending machine. Wonders never cease. As promised, PizzaForno licensees Daniel Albelice and Keith Stephenson have opened an automated pizza venue on Tiki Island, 101 Tiki Drive.
Each PizzaForno unit can hold up to 70 fully prepared pre-boxed pizzas, which are replenished frequently. When consumers select a menu item, the state-of-the-art oven gives them the option to take-and-bake or bake the 12-inch artisan pizza in less than three minutes. Earlier, the franchises opened their Friendswood automated pizza venue at 3312 FM 528.