Galveston Island's Pleasure Pier, knocked down by Hurricane Carla in 1961, is being reborn in its original location. The pier will fill the void created by the loss of the Flagship Hotel, which was felled by Hurricane Ike.
Galveston native Tilman Fertitta, the restaurant mogul who built the Landry's empire, has big hopes for the $60 million amusement park pier, the Houston Chronicle 's David Kaplan reported.
[H]e aims to make the Pleasure Pier a first-rate waterfront tourist spot on par with the Navy Pier in Chicago and Santa Monica Pier in Southern California.
The new Pleasure Pier will be an homage to the original one, built in 1943.
A roller coaster named "Iron Shark" and a Ferris wheel will be among the new Pleasure Pier's sixteen rides, and of course, the requisite souvenir shops and carnival food vendors hawking funnel cake and sausage on a stick will set up shop. The feel, on the whole, will be similar to Fertitta's Kemah Boardwalk.
The Galveston Daily News ' T.J. Aulds was cagey about one of the main attractions: "There will be a 'shrimp-themed' restaurant at the pier to go along with the rides and amusements games," he wrote. Aulds, of course, is referring to a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., which is owned by Landry's.
Construction on the pier's attractions is underway—wooden shells of the buildings and part of the rides are already in place—and should be completed by Memorial Day, in time for high tourist season.
The site also has some personal history for Fertitta, who worked as a lifeguard at the Flagship as a teenager. "The Flagship was a magnet for out-of-town girls," he told the Chronicle, "so that's where I made sure I was."
Today, Fertitta owns property up and down the Seawall, including the Rainforest Cafe, the San Luis Resort, a Landry's, and several small hotels.
In 2004, TEXAS MONTHLY 's Katy Vine flew around on Fertitta's helicopter to visit some of those properties with the tycoon. Fertitta has invested hundreds of million in Galveston, leading Vine to describe his outsized influence on the barrier island this way:
In [Houston], Fertitta is one of many big fish, but here in his native Galveston, he might as well carry a trident.
Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski told the TM Daily Post he has high hopes for this and other new developments on the seawall. "It could be, if done right, as charming as the Riverwalk in San Antonio," Jaworski said.
Watch Houston's ABC affiliate report on Galveston's newest attraction: