GALVESTON — Some commercial landlords on the island said they fear a $55 million project to construct a new 612-bed dormitory at Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Pelican Island campus will hurt their businesses.

Lamson Nguyen owns University Apartments Galveston, which is walking distance from the campus. He has seen a steady decrease in occupancy during the past couple of years because of the university’s newly constructed dormitories.

“We used to be at 95 percent occupancy before the dorms opened,” Lamson said. “Now we are at about 50 percent. We have about 260 beds and less than half of them are filled.”

Nguyen, who is a TAMUG graduate, wants the university to grow, but is worried about how building more dormitories is going to affect local businesses.

“If you require 21-year-olds to stay on campus, and you require them to buy a meal plan here, the students basically live here, eat here in a tax-free environment; it’s going to be pretty hard for local businesses to compete with that,” Nguyen said.

The university requires all students younger than 21 to live on campus. However, exceptions are in place for some students including, single parents, married students, military veterans, students living nearby with a legal guardian, among others.

Shane McDermott, who is a Galveston realtor, said he thinks it is important for college students to have the choice to stay on the island and be a part of the community so both the University and Galveston can thrive.

“When (students are) over here on Pelican Island they’re separated from the island,” McDermott said. “As someone who lives in Galveston, I want to see more students where I live. I want Galveston to be a young town. If there were more students living in town, Galveston would embrace A&M more.

“I think by encouraging them to live in Galveston and eat in Galveston, everybody wins,” he said. “I do have rentals in the East End, and I handle a lot of UTMB students because they have much more flexibility on where they can live.

“TAMUG is focused on they have to live here on Pelican Island. I would just like to see A&M students mixing with UTMB students, because then we would become a student community, which I think is a great direction for Galveston.”

Bob Wright, executive director for marketing communications for the university, argues the new dorms are necessary for the campus’ growth and success, and he thinks the increasing student body will benefit the community.

“Our goal is to have campus enrollment reach 3,000 in three years,” Wright said. “That is 1,000 more students, and we plan to continue to grow once we hit that mark. We simply do not have the space for all those students without building an additional residence hall.

“Additionally, all our students visit their favorite local shops and restaurants. This growth will mean more students and their families who visit or attend graduations will be using area hotels, restaurants, shops and amenities.”

New Hope Cultural Education facilities Finance Corp. issued bonds last month to finance construction of the dormitory, and Hunt Construction will build it.

TAMUG expects 2,100 students to attend the university in the fall.

(10) comments

JD Arnold

Wow, what a group of whiners. "Landlords and Realtors" appear greedy and self serving, cant you just be glad we have a wonderful expanding university located in our city.

Carolyn Meehan

My thoughts exactly.

George Croix

Maybe Kroger and HEB, or WalMart and Target, or Lowes and Home Depot, should be required to flip a coin to see who builds in a town so that the winner can benefit from no competition.
Never mind the customers losing...

Raymond Lewis

Some Galveston business folk can be a 'piece of work'. Dormitories should be near the place of study. Practicality all of these students are significant participants in Galveston, be it volunteering, shopping, eating at restaurants or staying in the hotels. Not to mention A&M's use of hotels and large assembly areas for major events.

As some have said already; stop whining!

Steve Fouga

I just wish someone in Galveston could have a gutsier vision for this place. Why not Galveston Island AND Pelican Island? Why not full apartments AND dormitories? Development AND the environment? The middle class AND the poor? Jobs AND neighborhoods? Home Depot AND Lowes?

Whining about university rules pulling students out of apartments is petty. Instead, let's show them a reason to bring more students to the Galveston campuses, and make up the difference that way.

I too would like to see more students in Galveston. Let's do that by increasing the total number of them.

Matt Coulson

Congratulations,Texas AM On your projected growth! What a great thing for our island.

Kathy Maddox

How about making all of the Island Slumlords improving their housing up to aesthetically pleasing standard & building codes. How much crime is on Pelican Island as opposed to Galveston? Give me a break!

Michael Bailey

Thank you cocodrie...Lamson Nguyen needs to focus on doing something nice with that ugly and overgrown land he owns abutting the bayou on Broadway and 61st. The locals and visitors by the thousands have to look at it each day.

And whomever owns the property where the new Sherwin Williams and Verizon sits should be ashamed to let it get so overgrown as well. They develop but don't maintain. No pride whatsoever!!! And the city is either blind or doesn't have teeth!

Gary Miller

How can improving the college experience in Galveston be bad? The money students save on TAMUG dorms may be the money they spend on the Island. Or the money they need to attend TAMUG.
Too many Island businesses think all money arriving on the Island should stay there.

Donnie Kelemen

Tough luck with having 50% occupancy. No one guaranteed you it would be leased by A&M students. Sour grapes. I agree with the earlier post that he should develop or at least clean up his eyesore on Offats Bayou. Disgusting.

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