American Indemnity Building

The American Indemnity Building, 2115 Winnie, once housed Ball High School until the new campus was built in 1954.

Plot thickens: An unconfirmed but credible rumor is circulating that one of the nation’s oldest and most prolific development firms has acquired an 11.39-acre island parcel from Lowe’s Home Improvement and is making offers for surrounding tracts. Sources report that Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co. bought or is buying the tract between 55th and 57th streets off Broadway and is seeking more land for a large retail development.

“We are not ready to make any comments about this at this time,” said Cynthia Langhorst, a Trammell Crow spokeswoman.

If the rumors are true, it finally puts to rest any lingering notions that Lowe’s would ever build on the island. But it also means the island soon could get a major new shopping center.

Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s paid $3.1 million for what was then county-owned land in 2010. But in 2011, the company said it would postpone construction of an 117,000-square-foot store near the Criminal Justice Center. Lowe’s cited frail national economic conditions for the postponement.

As the Crow flies: Meanwhile, rumor has it that Trammell Crow also has made offers to Island Church, which in early 2015 acquired 3.5 acres in front of the Criminal Justice Center on Broadway with plans to build a sizable worship center.

But Island Church, which acquired the land directly behind the RaceTrac fueling station, 5714 Broadway, hasn’t begun construction. Church officials could not be reached for comment. And, sources say Trammell Crow is interested in buying the property where the U.S. Postal Service office operates, 5826 Broadway. Trammell Crow would demolish that property, develop a new commercial center and lease space to the post office, sources say.

Trammell Crow Company, founded in Dallas in 1948, is one of the nation’s oldest developers of, and investors in, commercial real estate.

“For more than 40 years, we have been producing well-positioned, well-executed projects that maximize sale revenues for retailers and offer a valuable asset to investors,” according to the firm’s website. Stay tuned.

Apartment department: Are more apartments in store for the island’s downtown? That’s the buzz making the rounds. Rumor has it that the owner of the American Indemnity building, 2115 Winnie, plans to redevelop the property into apartments. The development would occur in two phases, with the first phase as a test of the market, sources say. More details weren’t available.

In 2004, Ilan Amsalem bought the 140,000-square-foot building with ambitious plans to fill the top floors with businesses.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike came along, trailed by an economic downtown, and Amsalem’s plans never were realized. The original Ball High School structure, founded in 1884, is part of the building. In 1954, the school board sold the property to American Indemnity, founded by members of the Seinsheimer family.

Charles Zwiener was the architect for the original conversion from school to office. He designed a one-story addition that linked the two three story wings that were reused from the original Ball High School.

This was done in the early 1950s. Louis Lloyd Oliver designed the curved addition linking the second and third floors of the two wings built in the early 1960s. Raymond R. Rapp Jr. designed the seven-story major annex on the south side of the site. Stay tuned.

Hatching plans? Will fast-casual restaurant Chick-fil-A find a place to roost in Texas City? That’s the rumor flying around. Everyone’s mum about the deal, which sources say will come with a lot of surprises if and when it’s done. Chick-fil-A is known for its chicken sandwiches. Stay tuned.

Garden grows? Details were scarce, but developers have met with island officials about building a four-story Hilton Garden Inn at the Intersection of 63rd Street and Interstate 45 feeder. Rumors of a Garden Inn opening in Galveston have circulated for nearly a decade.

Mod squad: Seattle-based Mod Pizza has fired up the oven at its newest store in Bay Colony Town Center, 2945 I-45, in League City. Mod Pizza bills itself as a “superfast” concept serving artisan-style pizza and salads.

On the burner: Meanwhile, Wichita, Kan.-based Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers has applied to the city for construction permits at the Bay Colony Town Center. Freddy’s is building next to Jason’s Deli.

Freddy’s, which earlier this year announced plans for a League City site, is famous for its lean ground-beef steakburgers, Vienna beef hot dogs, specially seasoned shoestring fries and custard desserts.

The chain was co-founded in 2002 by brothers Bill and Randy Simon, and their friend and business partner, Scott Redler. They named the restaurant after Bill and Randy’s father, World War II veteran Freddy Simon. No word on an opening date.

Clean start: What’s a beach town without a carwash? Communities on Bolivar Peninsula found out the hard way after Hurricane Ike wiped out several in 2008 that never returned. Anyone wanting to use a car wash service had to leave the peninsula to find one.

John Waller is aiming to change that by opening Crystal Beach Car Wash by Labor Day weekend, marking the first and only car wash since Ike.

Crystal Beach Car Wash, 2921 state Highway 87, will feature three self-service bays operated by coin or credit card. The car wash also will offer the “beach rinse,” which features an undercarriage spray and side and overhead sprays for a fast wash after a day on the sand. Crystal Beach Car Wash also will include a marine flush for boat motors. Stay tuned.

Laura Elder: 409-683-5248; laura.elder@galvnews.com

(10) comments

Mike Box

Trammel Crow is good news. Here's a chance to do something right on Broadway!

Jarvis Buckley

Laura , is the column to read if you want to know what new business's
are snooping around Galveston.

lauraelder Staff
Laura Elder

I don't understand your question Jarvis.

George Croix

Ms. Elder, I believe Mr. Buckley was paying you a compliment, and his sentence was supposed to start out "Laura's is the column to read...."
It's a slightly different dialect than the one I often mis-type with....[beam][beam]

lauraelder Staff
Laura Elder

Ah. Thank you for clearing that up Mr. Croix. I truly didn't understand what he meant. But I appreciate your helping me out there.

Steve Fouga

He just punctuated incorrectly. He's complimenting your column. I agree with him. [beam]

George Croix

You are welcome, Ms. Elder.

lauraelder Staff
Laura Elder

Thanks Jarvis. I misunderstood your sentence!

Steve Fouga

I'm not too keen on losing the post office. It's convenient and well run. Unless it's replaced with a Costco or Central Market, let it be!

George Croix

TC can always use another tax paying non-industry business, even with quite a selection of fast food places already.
I don't like Chick-Fil-A's products, but have bought a sandwich at one on occassion and then and give it away, just because.....

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