By Mary Alys Cherry
In Webster, they call it the West Side Story or Project Genesis. But it’s not a Hollywood movie storyline about rival gangs, it’s about a business boom like few areas have seen in recent years. It’s about that big chunk of Webster land lying along the west side of the Gulf Freeway – undeveloped for years – that soon will be booming with dozens of businesses.
Foremost among them are:
- Costco, the world’s second largest business, which already has eight stores in the Houston area and plans a 150,000 square foot facility on its 20-acre tract there. It expects to draw from an immense radius and population stretching from Pasadena to Galveston. “Additionally, Costco will attract a sizeable visitor market that traverses the I-45 artery to visit Galveston – some 6 million visitors annually who drive from Dallas, Austin and San Antonio or fly into Hobby Airport from all over the world,” Webster Economic Development officials said.
- Emmons Autoplex, which is locally owned and operated by four brothers — Harvey III, Terry, Jerry and Gary Emmons – whose late father started the family business in 1972. Renowned for their quality used vehicles, the Emmons have already broken ground on the proposed 88,000 square foot vehicle sales and service center, being built by Jacobs White Construction on their 15 acres, and where they plan to sell 300 vehicles from 32 different manufacturers monthly.
- Exclusive Furniture, that made the slogan “where low prices live” famous, plans a 50,000 square foot showroom opening this fall on its four-acre tract that include two nearby plots for restaurants. Its arrival dates back several years when President and CEO Sam Zavary sought a four-acre tract along I-45 in Webster for a furniture showroom.
- The 98-room TRU by Hilton Hotel will become Webster’s 19th hotel when it opens in August, offering Hilton’s midscale brand aimed at attracting young professionals and all age groups who relish flexibility and zones for working, lounging, playing and eating and drinking, all in an eco-friendly hotel.
All are the result of Project Genesis, which was created by the Webster Economic Development Corp. in August 2016 to grow the city’s commercial tax base. Project Genesis’ focus was to trigger commercial growth within 244 acres, the northwest quadrant, of which 82 percent was undeveloped and lies not far from Baybrook Mall, just south of Star Furniture, Houston House and Garden and Holiday Inn Express.
City officials had noticed how successful Magnolia Court Business Park, developed by John and Ross Wycoff of Wycoff Development and Construction some years back. The Wycoffs also played a key role in Project Genesis’ success by developing the 24-acre Odyssey Park.
The diversified mix of established and entrepreneurial businesses in Odyssey Park includes Pro-Surve Technical Services, Allometrics lab products, Mastrrr chemical induction technology, Batavia commercial ladder repair, Pump It Up youth entertainment, Molly Maid cleaning company, SteelWorx Gym, Pink Bee Studio sales training, Victory Chiropractic, Embroidery Plus, Ziebart Rustproofing, plus the medical offices of Dr. Thomas Rowe, Dr. Linda Goodrum and Dr. Michele Blackwell and Wycoff Development headquarters.
The city is even building a new access road to the property – Genesis Boulevard, which runs parallel to the Gulf Freeway and should be completed this summer and feature street lights, sidewalks and landscaping, with curb appeal.
Meanwhile, Webster officials couldn’t be happier. Economic Development Director Dr. Betsy Guisto is probably the most excited about Costco. She and other staff members have been working to get Costco to Webster for 12 years.