Market Center

Retail interest is heating up for Market Center underway and across the street from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Retail rising: Inquiring readers want to know about that retail center rising across the street from the University of Texas Medical Branch, 427 Market St., on the island. As previously buzzed, J.T. Bolger, the developer, is constructing two buildings, each 6,500 square feet. Bolger is building the retail on speculation, meaning construction began before he secured tenants, which is fairly common and signals confidence in the market. Interest is high from retailers wanting to lease space there, reports Jasper “J.E.” Tramonte of League City-based Tramonte Commercial Brokerage LLC. Tramonte is the leasing agent; Fichera Builders is the contractor.

The commercial development is rising on the site that was formerly home to the William Temple Episcopal Center building.

While no one is divulging potential tenants, the building features grease tanks preinstalled for restaurants. The shopping center will have an overflow parking arrangement with grocer Arlan’s Market, which operates at 513 Market St.

The development will include 53 parking spaces and is walking distance from the medical branch, which employs 10,000 people, a perk on which the developer intends to capitalize. Stay tuned.

Hush puppy: Waterfront rumors are flying about potential restaurant tenants in a very prime spot that became available in July when Ignite Restaurant Group closed Joe’s Crab Shack at Pier 19 in Galveston.

Officials with the Port of Galveston, which is the landlord, are entertaining proposals from restaurants wanting to lease the site but are hush-hush about bidders. Still, secrets on the dock never stay secret for long. One popular rumor has it the Guindon family, which operates the popular Katie’s Seafood Market on Pier 19, was considering a restaurant concept at the site. (Who wants to wager it would be a seafood restaurant?)

Floyd’s Cajun Seafood Co. also is rumored to be considering the site. Officials with Floyd’s, which has three restaurants in Southeast Texas, including a popular eatery at 20760 Interstate 45 in Webster, could not be reached for comment. Bret Floyd, Floyd Landry and Gary Pearce are the owners and operators of Floyd’s Cajun Seafood Co. Buddy Guindon, owner of Katie’s Seafood Market, would neither confirm nor deny his interest in the port property.

Pier pressure: Meanwhile, those in the know report some grousing about the rent the port plans to collect for the building. Word on the waterfront is that port officials are planning to negotiate a real estate agreement that is far more favorable to the public docks than in years past.

For years, the rent was what most people would consider a steal. Ignite was paying about $2,230 a month. Ignite inherited the lease agreement when it acquired Joe’s Crab Shack from Houston-based Landry’s in 2006. Ignite, according to the lease agreement, also was required to pay a percentage of its revenues to the port equal to 2 percent of the amount of gross revenues of more than $1.7 million. But the port never received any percentage of the Joe’s Crab Shack revenues because the restaurant’s gross revenues at Pier 19 never exceeded $1.7 million, port officials have said. Stay tuned.

Mystery market: They’re highly popular in Europe and Asia and now are popping up all over the United States, including in Galveston. They’re escape rooms, and Allison and Pat Little have opened one at 910 21st St. In such venues, patrons gather in a room where the door locks behind them. They have 60 minutes to solve a series of puzzles that will help them find a key that unlocks the door.

The island concept is called Escape The Island and is the first and so far only such business in Galveston.

What’s cooking? Popular downtown island shop The Kitchen Chick has a lot of people clucking over its latest news. Owner Alicia Cahill announced Friday she was the proud owner of a new downtown coop, 2402 Market St. at the old Turf Club site. But The Kitchen Chick, which offers quality tools essential to cooks, kitchenware and accessories, not to mention sought-after cooking classes, plans to stay at its 528 23rd St. building a bit longer.

“No immediate plans to move, this building needs some renovation love,” Cahill said. Stay tuned.

Mark the spot: In other new building news, Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City has moved into a newly built, 5,000-square-foot office at 1070 N. Pine Road. The business had been at 1030 N. Pine Road.

What’s that? An inquiring reader wants to know what crews are building in front of Target at Interstate 45 and FM 646 in League City. It’s a CareNow Urgent Care facility, city officials report.

Nip and tuck: Another Wendy’s fast-food eatery in the county is getting a modern makeover. Wendy’s, 124 FM 517 W. in Dickinson, on Tuesday will request approval from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission of its site development plan. The city council will also have to approve the plans that call for updating the facade, among other nips and tucks.

Wendy’s in 2012 announced it would undertake a major makeover of its corporate-owned and franchise restaurants. Modernization of the company, founded by Dave Thomas in 1969, also meant dropping the “Old Fashioned Hamburgers,” slogan. Wendy’s in Texas City has undergone such a transformation.

The munchies: Readers are buzzing about visible progress on Pluckers Wing Bar in the Bayway Village II Shopping Center, 20821 Interstate 45, in Webster. City officials announced the pending arrival of Pluckers late last year and construction is well underway.

Pluckers was conceived by college students, who, after a long night on Austin’s Sixth Street, had the munchies for chicken wings, but were shocked to find none in the city. A business idea was born and, upon graduation, the students opened the first Pluckers in the summer of 1995.

Laura Elder: 409-683-5248;

Managing Editor

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