Room service: Friendswood attorney and developer Jerome Karam has reached major milestones at two developments — one in Galveston and the other in Texas City.
First, after many months and seven figures, crews have successfully removed asbestos and cleaned up the former Falstaff Brewery site, 3303 Church St., which clears the way for a 90-room boutique hotel Karam plans to develop there.
“It’s 100 percent asbestos-free,” Karam said.
Karam in June 2015 bought the 313,000-square-foot brewery complex, which had been constructed in 1905 and had greatly deteriorated since closing in 1981.
Under Karam’s ownership, the property has been divided into four plats. Along with the hotel, Karam is developing a climate-controlled storage facility at the Falstaff site and last week announced plans to create an event center on the fifth floor of the storage facility, in what was the former site of the Falstaff Brewery tasting room. The event venue, which he has yet to name, will accommodate 500 people and will be accessible from a walkway connected to the hotel, Karam said.
Karam is about 45 days from submitting engineering and architectural plans to the city of Galveston, he said.
There’s been much activity in recent months on the Falstaff site, where crews have had to move massive vats and other brewery equipment. Premier Parking in 2016 agreed to buy 100,000 square feet of the Falstaff Property from Karam for cruise-ship passenger parking, which is under development. Another developer has acquired a parcel on the property for parking and Karam has put 5 acres around the complex on the market. Stay tuned.
Suite deal: Meanwhile, the office market just got more competitive in Texas City. Karam’s transformation of the 150,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by department store Macy’s at the Mall of the Mainland continues with the build out of Plaza Royal Executive Office Suites, 10000 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway.
The development resulted in 27 office suites with a shared atrium and access to a sleek conference room that features a 20-foot table made of granite, aquariums, high-back chairs, TVs and technology to accommodate meetings.
The suites are marketed to people who travel to Texas City for business with the petrochemical industry, attorneys and CPAs, entrepreneurs, psychiatrists and anyone seeking professional offices. An administrator at a receptionist desk in the atrium helps to coordinate bookings for the conference room.
In an initiative that filled a vacant department store, Karam has redeveloped the former Macy’s space to include Palais Royal, a 42,000-square-foot World Gym (read more soon about that) and the 15,000-square-foot Tuscany Village Salon, to name a few. Only about 7,000 square feet remain to be developed in the Macy’s building.
On tap: The craft beer craze shows no signs of going flat. Colorado-based craft beer microbrew pub Growler USA plans to open a Friendswood location next month, city officials report. The franchise has leased 2,500 square feet in the Fountain Plaza Center, 2111 W. Parkwood Ave.
Growler, with 17 locations, serves up to 100 craft beers on tap, hard cider, draught wine, root beer, kombucha tea and some food options.
Mailbag: An inquiring reader emailed: “Employees at Stripes on Highway 197 in Texas City told me they will be a 7-Eleven soon. Can you find out anything, like whether they will keep their tacos and business model or whether they will resemble a 7-Eleven. I’m sad about this.”
Answer: Stripes Convenience Stores has Texas City locations at 2829 Loop 197, the 3200 block of FM 1765 and elsewhere in the county, including in League City. In April, 7-Eleven announced it would buy 1,108 convenience stores, mostly on the East Coast and Texas, from Sunoco for $3.3 billion. Terms of the agreement call for 7-Eleven to buy the trademarks Stripes and Laredo Taco Company, which is known for Mexican food, especially its breakfast tacos, sold at the convenience stores.
The transaction was expected to be finalized by the end of 2017. But when Biz Buzz this week reached out to 7-Eleven about the deal and the fate of the tacos, corporate officials emailed back to say: “Unfortunately, the acquisition has not closed so we do not have this information at this time.” Stay tuned.
More change: The second biggest chain of drive-through oil change and automotive maintenance centers — Jiffy Lube is the biggest — is driving into the Houston market with plans for a League City site, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Valvoline has secured several Houston-area sites, including at state Highway 96 and South Shore Boulevard in League City. Stay tuned.
Want to dance? Dancewear retailer Dance in Love has opened in West Island Professional Center, 6511 Stewart Road. Dance in Love offers a full line of dancewear and supplies for ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics, including shoes, tights and leotards from toddler to adult sizes. The retailer works by appointment and announces additional hours through Facebook.
Meanwhile, Kitchens Financial Services has returned to West Island Professional Center. The firm specializes in small- to medium-size business accounting, bookkeeping and other services.
Kay and Benny Davis own West Island Professional Center.