Downtown Katy construction nearing completion but businesses say it’s taken a toll

Image description
Downtown Katy construction nearing completion but businesses say it’s taken a toll
Image description
Downtown Katy construction nearing completion but businesses say it’s taken a toll
Image description
Downtown Katy construction nearing completion but businesses say it’s taken a toll
In its mission to become a destination city, Katy has been rehabbing its downtown plaza for a future entertainment and gathering place next to City Hall. But nearby businesses complained that ongoing road improvement project has cost them 25-82 percent of monthly revenues since work began in late January.

Phase 1 of the project resurfaced roadways between Avenue A and Avenue D and between First and Third streets and is expected to finish in November. Phase 2 will install a park and visitor center underneath the Katy water tower at the intersection of Second Street and Avenue B. Phase 2 is expected to begin in early 2018.

The $3 million project is intended to draw more tourism to downtown, and at first, the shops were on board with the idea, said Lou Shillings, co-owner of Rose Royce Antiques at 5625 Third St., Katy. Shillings said owners hoped the infrastructure improvements would improve business.

But she and business partner, Vicki Reue, as well as their neighbors, expressed concerns that what they had understood to be the project’s plan changed before ground breaking.

That plan came out of advisory committee meetings from February 2015 through March 2017 with city officials and area residents.

“During that time, they had decided they would do it in different phases, where they would do one street and they would start a half of it—finish it,” said Betsy Proctor, owner of The Limited Edition Art and Antiques at 5717 Second St., Katy. “Start the next half—finish it—and then they would move on.”

That method became unfeasible, according to Kayce Reina, the city’s director of tourism, marketing and public relations. She said the committee had an informal plan for the construction to progress in L-shaped segments at intersections so each business would only be affected for about two months, she said.

However, the challenges of reworking roadways—some of which had not been upgraded since 1945—and other infrastructure made that method too expensive.

Meanwhile, Shillings said construction machinery occasionally blocked access to businesses, and communication between the city, Missouri City-based Millis Equipment—the contractor—and business owners was lacking.

Shillings was also concerned that Second and Third streets were made into one-way streets, but proper signage was not installed in a timely manner. Reina said the city ensured businesses were accessible and added each owner could contact Millis Equipment with questions or concerns. The city also put up signs nearby that read, “Downtown Businesses Open.”

“At the beginning [revenue] was down about a quarter, maybe a little less than a quarter, but as soon as they flipped over and started doing my side of the street, we were down about 70 percent because people couldn’t get over here,” Proctor said.

She said the street signs were misleading as well, with some reading “Road Closed” when in fact one lane would be open. Shillings, Proctor and other business owners said customers contacted them asking when roads would be open again, and Proctor said communication often did not come from Millis as promised.

“The work significantly improved the area by adding more than 100 parking spaces, new water and sewer lines, making the walkways compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, new LED street lights and a safer, more pedestrian-friendly environment overall,” Reina said.

Phase 1 of the project is complete, but the city is still working to implement Phase 2. Bill Bain, who owns KT Antiques at 5614 Second St., Katy, said he spoke with City Administrator Byron Hebert about extending the project to Avenue A or East Avenue.

“Existing businesses will reap the benefits of the improved downtown,” Reina said. “It will facilitate new businesses and restaurants, and create an environment that is welcoming to residents and tourists without [increasing] taxes.”


Katy ISD to return to standard operations in June

As of June 1, Katy ISD students and staff will no longer be requiring face masks or offering virtual school, Superintendent Ken Gregorski said in an email on April 16.

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores. (Courtesy Costco Wholesale)
Costco Business Center being built in Stafford; see live music in The Woodlands and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the Houston area from the past week.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

(Courtesy Great American Cookies and Marble Slab Creamery)
Hybrid Marble Slab Creamery, Great American Cookies location coming to Katy

A new Marble Slab Creamery and Great American Cookies hybrid location will be opening July 1 at Grand Morton Town Center.

Memorial Hermann is hosting a drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Smart Financial Center in Sugar Land April 15-16. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Walk-ins welcome at COVID-19 vaccine clinic April 15-16 at Smart Financial Center

Haven't recieved the COVID-19 vaccine yet? Memorial Hermann is hosting a drive-thru clinic from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. in Sugar Land. No appointment necessary.

Population and Survey Analysts, which predicted KISD would grow by approximately 2,400 new students per year for the next decade, made the recommendation to build additional elementary, junior high and high schools, especially in the north and far west areas of the district. (Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
Katy ISD officials talk budget deficit, bond

"Where is the new money coming from?”

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homes priced above $750,000, such as this one in the Heights, saw a surge in sales in March, with almost twice as many properties sold. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Average Houston single-family home price jumps 20% in March

The average sale price for a home in March was $370,847.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.

Newk's Eatery has closed its location in the Katy area. (Courtesy Newk's Eatery)
Newk's Eatery closes Katy-area location

While the Katy location may have closed, Newk's continues to serve diners at its Bunker Hill restaurant.