GALVESTON — On Thursday, the Galveston City Council approved a zoning change for the property that once held the Balinese Room. The change will allow developers to build a structure that rises high as 70 feet — should the developers follow through on their idea to rebuild the Balinese Room as a restaurant and concert venue that could hold as many as 3,000 people at one time.
Thursday’s approval marked the second time this year that the Balinese Room project has gained approval for a rule change from a city board. In March, the Zoning Board of Adjustment granted developers a variance to waive parking requirements that normally apply to a building of the proposed size of the project.
During those two meetings, there’s been a lot of talk of what the new Balinese Room would look like, but little in terms of visuals. The city council’s packet on Thursday did not include any concept drawing or architectural plans (They weren’t required to because the developers weren’t seeking any kind of building permit.)
In fact, the only visual I’ve seen of the new Balinese Room is on a poster that architect Michael Gaertner, who is consulting on the project, has shown at both meetings.
Here he is with the poster at Thursday’s council meeting:
I got that picture by screen-shooting the city’s livestream of the meeting. I could have taken a clearer picture with my iPhone. In fact, back in March I tried to do just that.
When I got up from my seat at the Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting to try to take a picture of the image Gaertner was showing to the board members, he hid it from view. Literally, he flipped it over refused to show it to me.
After the meeting he told me that the picture was only a concept drawing and not necessarily what the final product would look like.
On Thursday, when Gaertner showed the same poster to the city council, I asked him again if I could take a picture. He said no.
I would make a public records request for the image, but it is not included on any document that the city has on file. The poster was not distributed to the council members or included in the planning department’s packet explaining the request for the zoning change.
That packet did include a partial description of what the structure would look like:
“There will be vinyl reproduction windows and doors as well as reinforced vinyl or fiberglass doors (in lieu of hollow metal). The building will be painted in colors reminiscent of the original Balinese Room with contrast derived from the railings, glass and other architectural features of the building. The roof would be a modified hipped roof with the Polynesian upturns at the hips and other decorative elements.”
That’s pretty much it, at least for now. More descriptive details will surely come in the future, as the project moves through the city’s permitting process, something the developers say they hope begins by the end of the year.