Exploring what the city of Katy has to offer and its roots will be only steps away from historic downtown.

Katy City Council voted April 22 to approve a $952,370 contract with Innovative Environments to build the new permanent interactive exhibit at the future Katy Visitor Center, located at 5718 Second St. The building previously served as a fire station.

The background

In June, City Council approved VLK Architects for exhibit design services, where an advisory group was created for feedback and selection of a final design, according to agenda documents.

The advisory group consisted of various city staff members and other community entities, including:
  • Byron Hebert, city administrator
  • Becky McGrew, city secretary
  • Lindsay Kerr, senior executive assistant
  • Laura Vickery, content creator
  • Jaclyn Warner, Keep Katy Beautiful affiliate coordinator
  • Paul Follis, Convention & Tourism Bureau board member
  • Jamie Wolman, Keep Katy Beautiful board member
The group met with VLK Architects between August and February before agreeing on the final design, according to agenda documents. Katy’s Convention & Tourism Bureau approved the use of the city’s hotel occupancy tax April 17. HOT funds have limited spend uses, including items that enhance and promote tourism, according to agenda documents.

“The nice thing about the group that came together is that it’s different people from different backgrounds, and also even age groups and points of view,” VLK Architects principal Christopher Laack said. “I’m very proud of what the team did, and I think what you’re seeing is a very well-guided decision process.”

The details

Officials’ goal is for the center to be a destination for both Katy residents and visitors alike, said Chris Frison, creative director for DG Studios, which worked with VLK Architects on the design process.

“The [Katy] Visitor Center ... is going to be a regional destination center for the Greater Katy area with a focus on the city of Katy within the city limits,” Frison said. “We want to do something unexpected for this building so when people come in it's going to have a very clean, fresh and youthful appearance.”

Frison said elements of the center will include:
  • A staffed reception desk
  • Central interactive large touch screen with upcoming events
  • Kids room featuring interactive exhibits on rice farming, oil and gas and railroad industries
  • Brochure racks including categories for businesses, education and food
  • Seating areas
Also on the agenda

City Council also approved changes to two historic town square contracts, including:
  • A change order for Phase 4 improvements with LJA Engineering Inc. increasing the budget from $378,100 to $476,000
  • A change order for a contract with Millis Development and Construction LLC, to adjust the scope of work, raise the budget from $3.4 million to nearly $3.53 million, and add a 230-day time extension
Looking forward

With City Council’s approval, city staff will now draft a notice to proceed. Construction is expected to take approximately four to six months, according to agenda documents.