Excitement Builds as The Dryer in Katy Nears Completion
Food & Beverage
Photo Credit: Bobby Hermis

Excitement Builds as The Dryer in Katy Nears Completion

December 19 2023

Excitement is building in Katy as The Dryer, a historical restoration project, nears completion. This visionary initiative seeks to breathe fresh life into the historic rice dryers that have become emblematic of the region's rich agricultural past.

Three years ago, this ambitious project started with a simple sale listing, which grabbed the attention of Hadi Nurcahya, a local developer and licensed agent who saw the potential to turn the property into a cornerstone for the Katy Rice Dryer District. After consulting with his wife, he quickly took action to claim this rich slice of history, springing into action to form a passionate group of local talent.

Enlisting a team of Katy-area professionals including developers, architects, engineers, and attorneys – several of whom attended Katy High School – the drive was ignited to create a venue deeply rooted in the history and culture of Katy. Alongside Hadi, his son, Andrew, is also helping his father bring the vision for The Dryer to life. A 2019 graduate of Katy High School, Andrew is a part-time student at HCC studying to become a civil engineer.

Progress photo of the Katy Beer Garden at The Dryer on December 3, 2023. (Photo Credit: The Dryer)

In addition to the development team, the Katy Heritage Society has played an integral role in shaping ideas that have laid the foundation of The Dryer, with its president, Adrienne Davitz, sharing her wealth of knowledge on the history of Katy with Hadi. City of Katy Parks & Recreation Advisory Board member, Dianne Walker, even had a hand in helping to select the name of this iconic venue.

“I am thankful for help and ideas from many supportive people such as Dianne Walker, who helped select the name of the venue 'The Dryer,' as she said 'that's what we used to call it, let's go to The Dryer’. Most ideas actually came from people sharing their ideas for The Dryer,” said Hadi.

The road to transforming The Dryer has not been without its hurdles. Access issues presented early challenges but were overcome with the support of surrounding properties owned by the Deer and Roland families, who made it possible for The Dryer to have access to 3rd Street. Careful, intentional planning also made development of the project slower than a brand new build, but the results are proving to be well worth the wait.

"There are a lot of details with this project due to the special care and thought needed for the preservation, restoration and re-use of the historic rice dryers. We spent a lot of time developing the infrastructure, like underground utilities and multimedia, for Phase 1 and beyond," said Hadi.

At the heart of the project, the JV Cardiff Rice Dryer has stood as a testament to Katy’s rice farming heritage since 1943. Known as the first concrete rice dryer in Texas, its three prominent buildings create a unique triangular silhouette that will now serve as a landmark to the venue. Standing at 177 feet tall, the JV Cardiff Rice Dryer was the tallest rice dryer in the country in 1966.

Dedicated to preserving the past while nurturing community connections, The Dryer has been thoughtfully designed to serve as both an educational resource and a hub of activity. From the historical significance of the rice dryers to the importance of local farming, the venue aims to educate visitors about Katy's intriguing past. A key feature coming to The Dryer is the Katy Rice Dryer Museum and Gift Shop, where visitors can delve further into local history. Fittingly, the Museum and Gift Shop will be operated by the Katy Heritage Society.

Entertainment and commerce have also been incorporated into The Dryer's design. The venue is set to host the Katy Beer Garden as its anchor tenant, providing a lively locale for visitors to unwind that’s set to open in January 2024. Meanwhile, The Train Yard, an engaging rideable train, will keep younger guests entertained while continuing the venue’s historical theme, and is expected to open just in time for spring break in 2024.

This 7.5 gauge Katy replica train will ride across a 900 foot long track, with a capacity
to carry 22 passengers at The Dryer. (Photo Credit: The Dryer)

Further enhancing the sense of community, The Dryer will also feature a bustling farmers' market and local vendors, providing a platform for local traders to showcase their products. A vast artificial grass area provides additional space for visitors to relax and enjoy the venue's vibrant atmosphere.

As the project nears completion, the final stages of construction will further enhance the venue. A Hill Country aesthetic will be incorporated into the Katy Beer Garden building using elements like corrugated sheet metal from the original Katy Post Office dating back to the early 1900s, along with a fresh coat of paint to invigorate the towering silo buildings. The Dryer is not just a restoration project, but a testament to the power of community, the importance of heritage, and the vibrancy of Katy's future.

"We hope The Dryer will be the cornerstone project to start off our vision for Katy Rice Dryer District. The Katy Rice Dryer Museum would educate current and future generations what these tall buildings used to serve and about the Katy rice farming history and culture,” said Hadi.

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

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