The San Luis wouldn’t confirm rumors that defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who in March signed a two-year deal for $9 million with the Houston Texans, would be the first guest when the The Villas opened last week. Wilfork was seeking some quiet time with his wife before heading to training camp Saturday, according to rumors.
During a sneak preview of the villas just hours before the first guest was to arrive, a pillow embroidered with a “W” happened to be on the bed.
Can he get an amen? Wilfork earlier this month met fans at World Gym in Texas City in an event organized by Friendswood attorney and developer Jerome Karam,whocontinues to surprise skeptics with his revivalofthe Mall of the Mainland, 10000 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City. Many observers wished Karam luck in his venture to make the once-troubled mall into a viable shopping and entertainment destination, but had their doubts. Karam, however, announced another success last week when he finalized the sale of a 150,000-square-foot building to First Baptist Church Texas City. The 110-year-old congregation with 1,000 members will move into the former Dillard’s building. First Baptist sold its Ninth Avenue campus to the Texas City school district.
New heights: Meanwhile, things are still jumping at the Mall of the Mainland. On the heels of that transaction, the prolific Karam confirmed he soon would open the state’s largest indoor trampoline park at the mall property. Karam has a licensing agreement to operate Altitude Trampoline Park. The 45,000-square-foot park, which likely will open in January, will offer wall-to-wall trampolines, rock climbing, birthday rooms and more.
In March, Karam, along with an out-of-state partner, finalized the purchase of the 451,000-square-foot mall, announcing plans to lure new tenants and improve the shopping center’s facade.
Mall of the Mainland closed early last year after a 23-year run. Coastline Retail Center Inc., which gained control of the mall through foreclosure and related litigation, closed the interior common areas of the shopping center, which had struggled to attract staple stores and shoppers.
The closure, however, did not affect Sears, which owns its own building, Palais Royal or Cinemark. Karam saw potential where others did not. Last year, he bought the 150,00-square-foot building previously occupied by Macy’s and quickly filled it with tenants, including Palais Royal, which moved its store into the renovated building. Earlier this year, Karam opened the state’s largest World Gym, also in the Macy’s building.
The arrival of First Baptist Church Texas City will play a big role in the shopping center’s revival, Karam said.
“We’re excited that they’re part of the redevelopment,” Karam said. “That will bring in a lot of people and a lot of activity. We’re well on our way to a successful redevelopment. We’re going to have good, clean family entertainment and fun.”
Coming soon: Is the island’s downtown soon to be home to a new hotel and a microbrewery? And when will H-E-B open the doors to its new Texas City store? Learn the answers to those questions and more in next week’s Biz Buzz.
Laura Elder is business editor of The Daily News. Her column appears on Thursdays. Email your tips and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.