The company behind the Houston Premium Outlets way up off 290 near Fairfield in Cypress has announced plans to build a similar outlet mall on the opposite side of Houston. Simon Property Group, also the owner of the Houston Galleria and the Katy Mills Mall, plans on calling the new 100-store, 350,000-sq.-ft. complex the Galveston Premium Outlets, but it’ll be located well north of the island in Texas City, just south of the Holland Rd. exit off I-45 and north of the Walmart Supercenter, on the west side of the freeway. From the drawing the company is passing around, the place should look a whole lot like its Cypress cousin, logo-tattooed tower and all.
The site is a 55-acre chunk of the stalled and probably flopped Lago Mar, a 7,000-home development announced 6 years ago.
The Galveston County Daily News‘s Laura Elder reports there are rumors another outlet mall is coming to the area as well, a couple of exits north on a 20-acre lot north of Cross Colony Dr. and west of FM 646 in Dickinson — this one from another national mall developer: Tanger Outlet Centers.
What’s the deal with the malls already in the area?
Galveston County Sheriff’s deputies, La Marque and Texas City Police, and officials from the Texas DPS Narcotics unit gathered for a garden tour yesterday in the back building of the purported cabinet-making business of Gregory William Stanley, at the southeast corner of 5th St. and FM 519 in La Marque. Thanks to careful attention to air flow and insulation, Stanley had been able to keep law-enforcement officials off the scent of his 240-plant greenhouse for a while:
The pungent aroma of marijuana was evident only upon entering the metal building.
The building had an extra ridge vent to help push the marijuana smell through the roof, sheriff’s office Lt. Tommy Hansen said.
“It’s all insulated,” [Capt. Barry] Cook said. “Foam board on the walls, silver insulating materials on the ceiling, and ultraviolet lights to help these plants.”
Oscillating fans still were blowing air through the rooms as authorities photographed the evidence.
“There’s a ventilation, heating and lighting system, and they’ve got fans moving the air to keep it cool and damp in here,” Cook said.
How’s business at the world’s largest greyhound-racing venue? Not so brisk, reports the Houston Press:
The clubhouse and restaurant are now closed. There’s no more valet parking. Ebbs estimates that total attendance at Gulf on a good night is around 1,200. “When I got into it, dog and horse racing were the only games in town,” he says. “I’ve watched the whole gambling scene really blow up since the early ’90s. Greyhound and horse racing have gone from the only games in town to just one of many choices.”
But there’s hope to bring back customers:
Mike Parmetti, Gulf’s Marketing Director, is working on strategies to lure people to the track. Thursday is 50-cent draft beer night. There are Harley-Davidson giveaways and free trips to Las Vegas during the summer. On Fridays, there’s an all-you-can-eat crawfish buffet for $9.95. Then, there’s something called Dog Chip Bingo, advertised with this teaser: “If your puppy poops or pees in the right position, win a prize!”
Any better ideas?
Parmetti and Ebbs think slot machines — called Video Lottery Terminals at the tracks — might be the saving grace of Texas dog racing. They are convinced that slots will bring the dog tracks back to life without creating the sorts of vices gambling opponents fear. “You can’t create gambling problems,” Parmetti says. “If you could, we’d find a way to do it and pack this place out.”
Some Democrats, like State Sen. Rodney Ellis, have shown a willingness to support gambling because it would increase much-needed tax revenue. Year by year, the issue seems to be gaining traction. Without gambling, some say all the Texas tracks could be out of business in the next decade.