Blight made right? One of Dallas’ most well-known, well-financed and, lately, most talked about developers has the island’s vacant Falstaff Brewery building under contract, which implies the possibility of a massive makeover of a blighted property.
But what Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, plans to do with the property should he acquire it isn’t clear. Company officials confirmed they were in early negotiations to buy the property, but policy prevented them from commenting until a transaction was finalized.
The Falstaff Brewery, built in 1895, is considered an important historical building by the Galveston Historical Foundation. But some neighbors consider the building at 33rd and Church streets an eyesore and have advocated its demolition. The building has made the foundation’s Heritage at Risk list.
The Falstaff Brewery, originally one of Adolphus Busch’s regional projects, is the last factory standing in the island’s Factory District. The foundation argues the reinforced concrete structure could be rehabilitated into any number of uses and serve as an asset to the neighborhood.
“This area has plenty of open space and another demolition would only add to the deserted nature of this block,” the foundation has said.
What’s interesting about possible development of the Falstaff Brewery building is that it’s just a few blocks northwest of where the Galveston Housing Authority and contractor McCormack Baron Salazar plan to build a 122-unit mixed-income apartment complex that will help replace 569 units of public housing lost to Hurricane Ike. A little more than half of those units would be reserved for people qualified for housing assistance from the authority and the rest would rent at market rates.
McCormack Baron Salazar said it would spend about $28 million building the Cedar Terrace mixed-income development. The city will spend millions more in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Block Grant dollars on infrastructure improvements in the area.
Matthews has made headlines lately for planning a makeover of one of downtown Dallas’ largest empty landmarks, the 57-year-old Statler Hilton Hotel on Commerce Street, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Matthews developed the new Omni Hotel and redeveloped the historic Sears, Roebuck and Co. buildings on Lamar Street in Dallas and is regarded as civic minded. According to his bio, Jack Matthews “routinely finds underutilized redevelopment sites, structures leveraged financing very skillfully and manages the civic implications of urban redevelopment.”
Gary Schero of The House Co. has the Falstaff Brewery listing. Stay tuned.
A whopper: A year after the Galveston City Council approved construction of a convenience store featuring a Burger King at 5815 Broadway, the developer has obtained construction permits and plans to soon begin building the fast food eatery and a convenience store.
Developer Shoukat Dhanani received his construction permit July 2, city officials said. Dhanani said he planned to begin construction next month on the 3,600-square-foot food convenience store and a 2,700-square-foot Burger King. No word on what took so long.
The city council granted approval of construction after Dhanani redesigned the project to move the door a full and legal 300 feet away from neighbor Primera Iglesia Bautista Church.
The church had objected to construction of the store and the council took issue with original plans that put the entrance of the store where beer and wine would be sold 200 feet from the doors of a religious institution. State law prohibits the sale of alcohol within 300 feet of a church, school, hospital or child care facility.
Dressing room: The island’s downtown just got a little more fashionable. Ritu Pandulla has opened women’s clothing store Vasstra, 405 22nd St. Vasstra offers apparel for professional women. And it offers bay casual, evening casual and some formalwear.
All the clothing at Vasstra, which began two years ago in the Clear Lake area as an online business, is made with organic, handwoven fabrics that breathe easily in the summer, Pandulla said. The shop also carries bags and jewelry, including one-of-a-kind pieces. The company has an international following. The island shop marks Vasstra’s first brick-and-mortar store.
Vasstra specializes in limited edition pieces. There are never more than two pieces per size, Pandulla said. For information, call 409-632-7265.
Giddy Up: Freshly opened downtown store Texas Cowgirl, 2226 Strand, is planning to spur some attention with grand opening events beginning 10 a.m. Saturday. As part of the celebrations, Wells Fargo’s stage coach will be on hand. And Galveston Chamber of Commerce representatives will there for a ribbon-cutting.
Texas Cowgirl sells Texas branded items ranging from housewares and home goods to clothing and accessories. The shop is in the Dargan & Tobyn Building. For information, call 409-497-2260.
Stroke of genius: Want to unlock your inner artist? As promised, Painting with a Twist, has opened at 13013 Delany Road at Gulfway Plaza in La Marque. The art studio allows patrons to gather with friends, family or colleagues to paint, drink wine and create art.
The Painting with a Twist franchise is a pioneer in the paint and sip industry. Classes are led by local art instructors. Guests paint on bare canvasses using paint and brushes the studio provides. The artwork ranges from landscapes, abstracts and cityscapes, to creative renderings of animals, iconic buildings and florals. Patrons have the option of bringing their own bottle of wine.
Franchise owner Donna Mittendorf recently retired from a 35-year banking career as senior vice president at Comerica Bank. Mittendorf had long wanted to own her own business.
“The new studio is designed to provide guests with a fun night out — a chance to escape from reality,” Mittendorf said. “We are offering lighthearted entertainment that merges creativity and a social gathering where friends come together to create memorable pieces of artwork.”
Painting with a Twist also offers private parties for corporate outings, bachelorette parties, sorority functions, date nights and special events. For information, call 409-933-4700.
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