With a $200 million state Highway 146 expansion project heating up, the owner of Outriggers Seafood Grill & Bar along state Highway 146 is pushing back, opting not to close this summer as transportation department officials had wanted.
The popular Seabrook restaurant and bar has long known it would close for the state Highway 146 expansion.
The 101 Bath St. restaurant, in business for 17 years, was scheduled to close June 2 and gear up to move to its new location on NASA Parkway, but the Texas Department of Transportation did not provide proper documentation, Marcus Hill, an attorney representing owner John Schafer, said.
“The state hasn’t taken care of its paperwork,” Hill said. “The paperwork looks like it may take two more months. Based on their legal paperwork, they are just not there yet.”
The restaurant’s building is among nearly 60 being acquired by the transportation department for a project that is greatly changing the business landscape in Kemah and Seabrook. Most recently, Tookie’s Burgers moved its Seabrook restaurant to 406 Texas Ave. in Kemah, in the building vacated by Ichibon Japanese Seafood.
The contract letting date for the massive road project is scheduled for next month and construction is expected to begin in 2019. It will widen state Highway 146 from six lanes to 12 as well as include a new expressway bridge west of and parallel to the Seabrook-Kemah Bridge, transportation officials said.
The transportation department uses a fair and systematic approach in selecting and acquiring rights of way for future transportation projects, spokeswoman Deidrea George said.
“As is stands, the parcel currently occupied by Outriggers is currently under litigation so we won’t be able to address any specifics at this time.”
By way of eminent domain, the transportation department is able to acquire private property as expansion for Highway 146 continues, transportation officials said.
Eminent domain allows the transportation department to gain private property and transform it to public property if the construction is deemed to serve the greater good of the state.
For now, Outriggers can continue to operate its business this summer in the meantime, Hill said.
“The transportation department has to file the proper papers first and then we file ours,” he said. “None of it has been served the way it is supposed to be.”
Outriggers will be open for a few more months and that’s good because June through August is the restaurant’s best time for sales, Schafer said.
“Summer time is the main revenue maker,” he said.
Once the transportation department files the proper paperwork, then Outriggers must move, but the proper measures must be taken first, Hill said.
“The process has not been done correctly at all,” he said. “They got the cart ahead of the horse”