Webster’s Secret Sauce

October 1st, 2019

Mayor Donna Rogers, center, welcomes American Furniture Warehouse Project Managers Jacob Colby and Nolan Morrison to the City of Webster.

By Mary Alys Cherry

How can a municipality that measures just 6.7 square miles be an economic development powerhouse? How can this small municipality be home to over 2,200 businesses, including 32 shopping centers, over 150 restaurants, entertainment venues, and sports training facilities, 20 hotels, three major hospitals and a medical center that accommodates 1.8 M patients annually, and an aerospace sector that’s created a plasma rocket engine, Orion spacecraft, and first American-made airlock for the International Space Station?

Webster, located midway between downtown Houston and Galveston, has some secret sauce! The City, whose residential population is just 10,000, is accustomed to accommodating 200,000 people daily for business, entertainment, recreation, and tourism. This City can be considered super-regional, as its market attracts those residing within a 30-mile radius, as well as a global visitor market for business and leisure.

This City, under the leadership of Mayor Donna Rogers, who has been the president of the Webster Economic Development Corporation since its inception in 1999, understands, practices, and leads business development in a pioneering light. When there is tenacity, creativity, responsiveness, and positive drive — a can-do attitude — regardless of obstacles — and there are always hurdles — the sauce contains the right ingredients! Webster’s sauce is a rare blend and pairs perfectly with business.

So, what is the formula in Webster’s economic development sauce?

American Furniture Warehouse Project Managers Jacob Colby and Nolan Morrison would say that they wish the Webster Team would act as consultants in other cities, as Webster knows how to get business done! Webster sets the bar high, which propelled American Furniture Warehouse to choose Webster for its first Texas store. The Webster experience was such that no other city comes close to providing this high level of service — and this mega project was fraught with hurdles.

First, there were three land owners — and the development amid 23 acres would not work without all three tracts, which had to be negotiated and purchased almost simultaneously.
Second, this was undeveloped land that required access and infrastructure — from a driveway cut on the I-45 feeder road from the Texas Department of Transportation to approximately 3,300 linear feet of new paving and City utilities funded by the Webster Economic Development Corporation.

Third, this project was complex and huge—from design, engineering, and construction to planned development guidelines and city council approval, to permitting and opening. The Webster team, from the fire marshal and chief building official who worked, oftentimes, after hours and weekends on inspections throughout a lengthy construction period to ensure compliance, to the extra efforts of Community Development’s administrative assistant to obtain property tax receipts from the school district so the properties could close on schedule, to the public works director’s herculean work in coordinating civil design, utilities, and construction, from start to completion, Webster’s secret sauce was unrivaled.

Throughout this multi-year process, the City’s relationship with the American Furniture Warehouse Project Team, Kevin Michalek, Nolan Morrison, Jacob Colby, and Broker Ben Brown is exceptional and invaluable.

This is a City that understands investment and seeks to work in concert with its constituents.

Grand Opening Night At Cut Foil Benefits Longhorn Project

August 1st, 2019

By Alisa Star

Cut Foil wine and Piano Bar held several great and exciting events this past month. On Saturday July 6, a benefit for the Longhorn project was held and featured music by Jason Allcorn, who rocked the house with country music.

The Longhorn Project is committed to agricultural education. It is a one-of-a-kind, hands-on educational project. The Longhorn Project is a well known center of agriculture, science and engineering. It is located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on a 53 acre tract of land for grazing, complete with an 11 acre feeding lot and 7 acre garden area. The area consists of garden plots, a greenhouse, orchards, compost containers, aquaculture ponds and paver patio with a beautiful waterfall. The Western Heritage Pavilion was built and donated by the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo.

Under the direction of project manager, Henry Wilson, a select team of FFA students learn and care for the trophy steer herd, raising and exhibiting 25 longhorns at numerous shows across the state of Texas. The project is challenging and is a major responsibility for all the students involved. They are all proud to be a part of this unique opportunity.
Cut Foil hosted a silent and live auction to help raise money for the Longhorn Project. Chairperson Andrea Wilson kicked off the event. There was a lot of excitement and bidding wars.

Rick Clapp conducted the live auction and the passing of the cowboy hat to help raise funds for this worthwhile cause. Over $3,000 dollars was raised for the Longhorn Project. There was fun and exciting bidding on all the auction items. Some of the items included a BBQ dinner for eight, a photo of the longhorns, and a case of wine donated by Derek and Robin Holk. A tour of rocket park and lunch with retired Johnson Space Center Director George Abby was a hotly bidded item. A horse painting, a nice dinner gift card package and bottle of wine with glasses for two was donated by Bay Area Houston Magazine. Some of the auction winners included Tom Herman, Alisa Star and Rick Clapp to name a few. A special thanks goes to Derek and Robin Holk, and a great time was enjoyed by all.

Cut Foil is located at 20801 Gulf Fwy, Webster, TX 77598 next to the Fitness Connection. For information on live music and upcoming events, visit online at www.cutfoil.com or like them on Facebook.

Businesses Anxious to Fill Undeveloped Webster Land

April 1st, 2018

Costco will be located off the I-45 feeder after Star Furniture and Houston Garden Center

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.

Webster booming with developments

September 1st, 2015


Look for Top Golf off 1-45 to open this fall.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Pretty soon, you won’t be able to recognize Webster as you drive down the Gulf Freeway.

That long patch of undeveloped acreage across from Hobby Lobby on the Friendswood side of the freeway? Exxon Mobil has sold the 177-acre tract to Medistar, which has spent most of the past three or four years building Bay Area Regional Medical Center and the new Webster Rehabilitation Center.

But no big medical facility is planned.

Instead, Medistar will build a mixed-use project that will include a new hotel and conference center, restaurants, offices, retail, medical facilities – even an amphitheater on the property, which is just south of Top Golf, a popular venue under construction at 21401 Interstate 45 that is opening in late October or early November and expects to serve approximately 450,000 visitors in its first year of operation, a spokesman said.

No date for opening the new Medistar site has been set, but late 2016 would be a good guess.
Meanwhile, Medistar has sold its new Webster Rehabilitation Hospital property to Carter Validus Mission Critical.

The Webster Rehabilitation Hospital is a newly built, 45-bed inpatient rehabilitation facility that measures approximately 53,513 square feet in net rentable area and provides physical, psychological, social and vocational rehabilitation services for patients.

The hospital is 100 percent leased to Clear Lake Institute for Rehabilitation, a newly formed operating subsidiary of Post-Acute Medical, Medistar said, adding that “PAM is a leading provider nationwide of health and patient services for long-term acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, residential brain injury and comprehensive wound care. ”

PAM currently operates 18 in-patient facilities and 10 out-patient facilities in Texas and Louisiana.

Bay Area Houston Magazine