Underdeveloped corner of College Street likely to attract new tenants

An otherwise underdeveloped corner of College and Orange streets will likely be able to provide all of this, plus parking, as the Planning and Zoning Commission in a joint session with the city council approved a revised plan for the building under construction just west of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway on south side of College Street.

The restaurant will be called El Paraiso – Spanish for “paradise” – and the estimated $800,000 investment by Rosa Sifuentes and Sifuentes Francisco Castillo could be completed by mid-year, said project manager Charles Shajari.


An empty lot directly east of the wood-frame building will become a parking lot for businesses, turning what is now typically muddy flat, rugged grass into a landscaped sand and gravel lot for 17 cars.

Entrance to the lot will be via Orange Street according to the conditions set by the city.

The investment provides for a beauty-hair salon, a tax preparation office and an insurance office in addition to the restaurant.

Applicants will repair sidewalks and install landscaping, provide islands or medians and a perimeter buffer, and protect neighbors from lighting.

The entrances and exits will occupy 958 and 978 Orange St. and 1350 Gilbert St.

The planning commissioners unanimously approved the revised permit application and council will vote on the final permit at a future meeting.

As with all permit applications, the Planning and Zoning Commission deliberates first, conducts a public hearing and votes council on it. The opportunity for public comment occurs at meetings of the Planning and Zoning Commission, not when council finally votes.

The city’s planning and community development department sends letters to all adjacent landowners seeking comment, but in this case no one responded and there was no objection during the meeting.

Shajari said the new venture is intended to serve the area’s Hispanic community, which predominates in the College Street neighborhood.

The committee also voted to approve:

Additional cabins at Hidden Lake RV Park, 6860 S. Major Drive.

Expansion of the parking lot at the Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 2170, rue Renaud.

A drive-thru daiquiri shop at 8180 Eastex Freeway.

A boarding veterinary and grooming business at 4270 E. Lucas Drive.

All are subject to a final vote by the city council.

Dan Wallach is a freelance writer.

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