TxDOT Wins Custody of Head-Turning Tiny Law Office in Seabrook Ahead of Planned Hwy. 146 Widening

The 660-sq.-ft. law office marooned on a traffic island in Seabrook for 86 years might finally get ousted from its spot in local what-is-that-thing lore when TxDOT’s planned road widening project gets underway along a 3-mile stretch of Hwy. 146. Attorney Michael Valentine bought the building on the corner of Bayport Blvd. and 2nd St. in 1989 and did it up with the leafy haircut and  shark dolphin-themed metal edging. (Bayport Blvd. is the segment of 146 that runs through Seabrook — shown to the left of building in the photo at top.) In its past lives, the 2-story wedge at 1210 Bayport had been at various points an ice house and a bait shop.

Documents filed with Harris County Clerk show that TxDOT agreed to snatch the building from Valentine for a sum of $114,356 last October after filing an eminent domain proceeding against the entity he uses to administer the property. At least 9 other businesses along Bayport, including Ryan’s Cleaners, Tookie’s Burgers, and Laredo’s Tex-Mex Cafe have already closed or relocated ahead of the roadwork that plans to turn 146 between Red Bluff Rd. and Clear Creek — currently 4 lanes — into 12.

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The property is indicated in the drawing below by the triangle just south of 2nd St., bisected by magenta lines that mark a sidewalk. A new northbound feeder runs between the property and what would be an overpass carrying the highway’s main lanes:

A video that flies over renderings of the highway, however, doesn’t show anything new in the triangle’s place. About 1 minute in, it zooms past the planned exit for Kenneth Royal Dr. just north of the law office. When the camera reaches 2nd St., it does a 180 above the traffic island:

Here it is shrouded in mist:

Photos: Patrick Feller [license] (Valentine Law and surrounding streets); BFS Man [license] (daytime closeup); TWFisher (nighttime closeup). Roadway plan: TxDOT. Video: City of Seabrook

Eminent Domain

38 Comment

  • Those are dolphins, not sharks.

  • NO! Not Tookie’s Burgers! That place was Texas awesome.

  • Can’t they just move the building?

  • Why TXDOT has to steal all the businesses east of 146 for widening is beyond me. There is way more than enough empty width directly west of the current alignment. A 12 lane freeway is overkill for that area, certainly killing the quaint, small town vibe that is Kemah and Seabrook.

  • @Ed, The citizens and real estate developers have been fighting with TXDOT and each other over the alignment for at least a decade.

    TxDOT acquired all the ROW on the west side as well. The original, preferred alignment required only the ROW on the west side of 146. More importantly, this alignment would not have required the condemnation of any retail on the east side of 146. BUT, TXDOT’s preferred alignment would have placed an exit only at Red Bluff and NASA Rd and bypassed the rest of Seabrook. The retailers in Seabrook insisted that this would kill the retail on the east side of 146. SO, they demanded a feeder road with at least two more exits.

    TXDOT yielded to their demands; BUT this required an additional 150 feet of ROW for the feeder road and the exits. After acquiring all the ROW on the west side, the only available ROW was now on the east side, which just happens to be where all the threatened retail is. Basically, they had to kill all the retail on the east side of 146 in order to save it. If you lived in Seabrook, as I do, it all makes perfect sense.

  • used to be called Curley’s Corner

  • First off, those are dolphins, not sharks. Second, you’re ruining the quaint vibe that currently is the charm and appeal of Seabrook and Kemah. Thanks for being typical “money-hungry” government officials with zero morals. Oh, and third you’re ruining hundreds of acres of natural habitat for deer (and other wildlife) in our area. Nobody cares about where the deer will go. Consequently, I hope that when they inevitably invade the roadway, a 6 point buck strolls in front of your obnoxiously useless sports car, and smashes it to bits. And every time you get a crick in your neck or a sore back, you’ll remember the deer you pushed out of their habitat and forced onto the roadway and into your life.

  • “quaint, small town vibe that is Kemah” — that ship sailed years ago when Tilman Fertitta first got his hands on the boardwalk. But I’ll grant you Seabrook.

  • Not just east of 146…west as well. Traffic nightmares for locals will continue. Traffic through neighborhoods by drivers avoiding construction traffic..well trying to. Sonic, Popeyes Seabrook house of Flowers, Neptune Subs, Walgreens also gone. Mote soon to follow. Property values in some neighborjoods will fall…some have already. 12 lanes…only to bottleneck a littgle further down tyhe road. Sad.

  • That’s a Ford Bronco II in that first photo, a rare vehicle to see these days!

  • Awww. I like that little building. Always look forward to seeing it at Keels and Wheels time.

  • The very first time I saw this cute little building (1986) I remember thinking it was in a vulnerable spot. I am amazed it stayed this long, and very sad to think it could soon be gone. It was, indeed, an iconic part of Seabrook. I don’t even recognize Kemah any more.

  • “First off, those are dolphins, not sharks. Second, you’re ruining the quaint vibe that currently is the charm and appeal of Seabrook and Kemah. Thanks for being typical “money-hungry” government officials with zero morals. Oh, and third you’re ruining hundreds of acres of natural habitat for deer (and other wildlife) in our area”

    There is a shark in the second pic.

    Why can we not use this same exact argument against the HSR?

  • So sad as it a Landmark.

  • From 4 lanes to 12? Wtf? How does that benefit the people of Seabrook?

  • this is an absolute shame. clearly we’ve learned nothing

  • The video of the expansion is the first rendering dinner in 2014. There is an updated one that was done in 2017
    https ://youtu.be/ssHd_od7ZrA..

  • Some of y’all that are upset about this should look to the Historical Society for assistance in keeping and maintaining the little building.

  • This story is VERY misleading! The official public comment period is still open until Feb 23rd. The public hearing was just held on the 8th. This is not a done deal. The NEPA process is not over. If people make their voices heard they can influence the outcome here. Contact the Texas Historical Commission, Galveston County Historical Society, TxDOT Houston District, and your State and local reps. Follow the links on this page
    https://www.kemah-tx.gov/244/Hwy-146-Expansion

    You can comment to TxDOT from this page
    http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/get-involved/about/hearings-meetings/houston/020818.html

  • Wow, only 115k. Txdot got a steal of a price. I would of at least got a million.

  • What a shame this historical building must go. As a child on our trips to visit my grandmother who lived in La Porte, we always stopped at Curley’s Icehouse. It was just the door to stop grab great, drinks and beer! Will miss seeing it as I pass the road on my trips to casinos. Wish they could save…it’s a landmark and memories for many brought up on the Gulf Coast

  • Long, long, long ago that place was called “Curly’s Corner” and it was a bait and tackle shop that proudly boasted “The Coldest Beer in Texas”. When I was a kid my dad would take me fishing on weekends and we’d always stop there for tackle but mostly for beer, we really never fished much.

  • Yep, 45 years ago on our way “ to the Boat”, always stopped at Curley’s Corner for ice & dead bait (just before picking up dinner of the best damn fried shrimp at the Shrimp Shack where Hooters is now). Those were the days………..

  • I would hate to see this go,it’s always been there and makes me feel grounded since everything is changing!

  • A disgrace, shame on Tex dot, this is a historical building. As a matter of fact my Great Grandmother used to sell beer out of it until she built BB’s cafe in Seabrook. Does not anyone want to keep history in the area.

  • I worked there for Michael for many years and there ARE sharks on the building by the name of the office.

  • Rather there used to be. Two metals one on each side next to the name of the firm.

  • Soooo, those are dolphins along the sidewalk, made many years ago by Mr Miller across the street. AND there were sharks on the side of the building up high. I took them down a few years ago to have the sharks polished and the guy I hired disappeared with my two sharks.

    Michael Valentine

  • The older picture when the name is in yellow has it on there to the right.

  • Dianna, it is a done deal. The upcoming public hearings are for another part of Hwy 146. Anyway I went to many of the meetings in the past and really those meetings were just presentations of what was coming, there was no opportunity to make changes.

  • It’s always sad to see the places we live and love move on to be places without the heart and soul …buuuuut obviously $ talks….way too much☹️

  • While I can appreciate the complaints about loss of history, quaint-ness, etc… What you’re lamenting was realistically lost 20+ years ago. The area has just become too overdeveloped. I know because I’ve lived in and around the area longer than that.

    We could blame fertittaland, but realistically the beginning of the end was the removal of the drawbridge.

    I just sat in traffic for 25 minutes to go from red bluff to habanero, and it just underscores the need for improvement.

    Yes, 12 lanes seems like overkill, however, it seems like this time txdot is actually looking beyond their typical project management. They normally look to projections for 10 years in advance, which means that they never really get ahead of demand.

    In other words, where would you prefer they put the lanes? Can’t put them out over the water, and everyone else is already developed. They already owned most of this right-of-way, so it just makes sense.

    And I agree, 115k means txdot got it for a song.

  • Damn shame. No respect for historical structures. Destroying another piece of who we are.

  • Grew up in the area in late 70s. It was wonderful than. Now just a mess. Was the best place. Growing ruins so much.

  • What will happen to the fun funky decor items? Where did the mariachi frog band go? I hope they will be set up somewhere else – that always made me smile when i drove by !

  • For all you people complaining about “progress” and the “displacement of deer” and the loss of the “quaintness” of “your town”, I would guess that when land was being cleared for the home you now live in and the roads leading to it there was some old timer shaking his head and complaining about how the area was going to hell in a handbasket because of it. Progress happens, things change, and in the end hopefully it is for the better. If this country stayed the same and never evolved since it was founded it wouldn’t be what it is today. That being said, I too have fond memories of what I call “Curley’s Corner” and I wish there was a way to preserve it.

  • How about relocating building to another spot. It is sort of historic and unique.

  • This is an historical landmark that should not be disturbed or destroyed in the name of progress.
    This is a sacred little building.
    And Tookies too! I remember when it was built in the seventies. Also a landmark,
    The Best burgers in Texas!
    This is sad and disturbing.
    We’re giving up the only quaint part of the Clear Lake area we have left for 12 lanes of freeway, which invites traffic we don’t want.
    TXDOT, where is your soul?