Connect with us


Balinese Room Site Coming Back?

Balinese Room before being destroyed

Developer Jerome Karam, of JMK5 Holdings, has purchased the rights to the historic Balinese Room site.

Permits have been secured for development, which could begin as soon as this year. After 15 years, Galvestonians can look forward to the new development.

The Balinese Room was a popular destination for the wealthy and the famous during the 1930’s and 40’s. Stars like Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, and George Burns were amongst the performers that frequented the Galveston Island hot spot. The club’s illegal gambling led to it being shut down by authorities in 1957.

Balinese Room in the 1970s
Historic Balinese Room, By Nv8200p, CC BY-SA 3.0
In the 1970’s, Johnny Mitchell purchased and reopened the Balinese Room. It was fairly successful, but closed again in the 80’s. After Mitchell’s death the entire pier became the property of the State of Texas.

The Balinese Room sat vacant for years before Scott Arnold took it over and reopened in 1997. Soon after, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed the building. All that has remained since then is the front awning structure.


The Balinese Room: Before & After Ike

Balinese Room just before Hurricane Ike
Just before Hurricane Ike. Photo:
The Balinese Room after hurricane destroyed it.
After Hurricane Ike. Photo:

Scott Arnold has leased the Balinese Room from the Texas General Land Office for nearly 30 years, with 30 years remaining. Mr. Arnold has held on to the lease over the years, hoping that an investor would come along and develop this great property.

While there have been rumors of commercial development on the site of the famed Balinese Room, since Hurricane Ike destroyed the Galveston landmark, none of the speculated development has come to fruition.

This time Jerome Karam said “It’s happening.” The acquisition will allow Mr. Karam to construct a complex up to 27,000 square feet over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico with a street frontage of 140 feet along the Seawall. Preliminary plans show a restaurant, shops, as well as an event room or dance club.

Mr. Karam has invested in many Galveston properties over the years. The following is a list of JMK5 Holding’s Galveston projects:

Commodore on the Beach
Hideaway Estates
Falstaff Brewery into Falstaff Hotel
Falstaff Brewery into Events @ The Tasting Room
JMK5 Cruise Ship Parking
Galveston Bay Club
Eibands Condos
Harborside Lofts
Karam Lofts
Karam Self Storage
Sonja Apts and Riviera Apts

Locals and tourists alike are excited about the possibility of the Balinese Room finally being restored, and looking forward to honoring its treasured history as an iconic Galveston landmark!

* Featured Image: taken by Bill Pollard, in July 2006.

This Month