Complex deal: Will a prominent downtown office building become an apartment complex? It’s possible.
Businessman Hadar Goldman, who three years ago bought the Frost Bank building, 2201 Market St., is considering converting some of the middle floors to apartments.
Goldman, an entrepreneur and musician — he’s well known for playing the electric violin — is originally from Israel but is fond of the island, he said. Goldman would like to see the island reclaim its halcyon days, when it was a bustling city known for commerce before the 1900 Storm changed its fortunes, he said.
“I think that Galveston actually deserves to claim back its realm,” Goldman said.
Plans still are in the very early stages, he said. But it’s likely that only five floors of the 11-story building would be used for apartments, he said.
Existing office tenants, including Frost Bank, Kempner Capital Management and some University of Texas Medical Branch employees, would be able to remain in the building, even with a conversion to apartments, Goldman said.
Goldman has hired island architect Michael Gaertner to design the proposed development.
Frost Bank sold the building with the intent of leasing it back. At the time, it had about 45 employees in the building, which is distinguished by its clock face and tall, arched windows.
The island’s Kempner family founded what would become the United States National Bank in 1874. The bank building was constructed in 1925. Alfred C. Blossom with Sanguinet Staats & Hedrick was the architect. Architect David Watson rehabilitated the building in 1990.
In 1982, CullenFrost Bankers Inc. and the United States National Bank of Galveston merged. CullenFrost, a bank holding company, operated Frost and United States National Bank separately for years. It was the last surviving bank to boast the United States National Bank name. (In 1926 federal lawmakers banned the use of the words “Reserve” “United States” and ”Federal” in bank titles but allowed banks already using such names to continue.)
In 2000, CullenFrost folded the United States National Bank charter into that of Frost.
Apartment department: It’s clear developers have taken a strong interest in downtown buildings that have the potential to be converted to apartments.
Earlier this year, Port Arthur-based The ITEX Group finalized acquisition of the long-vacant Medical Arts Building in the island’s downtown with plans to transform the badly deteriorating property into an apartment complex, city officials confirm.
The acquisition could be the savior of the Medical Arts Building, 302 21st St., while increasing the number of people living downtown.
But parking downtown, or the lack thereof, is always an issue. The ITEX Group and executives at nearby American National Insurance Co. are in early talks about the possibility of the developer and island-based insurance company building a parking garage.
The ITEX Group is best known on the island for buying the 10-story Jean Lafitte Hotel in 2009, changing the name to 2101 Church Street and turning that deteriorating building into an 83-unit apartment complex.
Chick hatching: While one’s underway on the seawall, another Chick-fil-A is soon to hatch on the island. Word has it a Chick-fil-A will open sometime this fall in the John Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Chick-fil-As are known for chicken sandwiches, waffle potato fries and more.
In other medical branch meal news, Einstein Bros. Bagels has opened in the new Jennie Sealy Hospital. The $438 million facility, featuring 310 patient rooms, opened this month. Einstein Bros. Bagels is known for bagels, bagel sandwiches, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, coffee, sweet treats and more.
Still incubating: Meanwhile, some readers are chirping for news about the opening of Chick-fil-A Express underway across from the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, 2501 Seawall Blvd. Officials representing island-born billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who owns the franchise, did not immediately respond to inquiries. But when officials with Landry’s, of which Fertitta is chairman, CEO and sole shareholder, announced late last year plans for the island eatery, they predicted an early spring opening. Stay tuned.
Burger buy: A longtime Santa Fe hamburger joint has a new owner and new name. Owner Jason Tabor announced March 30 on Facebook he had sold Red Cap Restaurant, 13419 state Highway 6, to C&D Burger Shoppe, which took over the Santa Fe restaurant earlier this month. Red Cap, which dates back to the 1970s, is now operating under the C&D name.
C&D Burger Shoppe has a nearly identical business, said Tabor, who bought Red Cap 12 years ago.
New owners, which operate a C&D Burger in Houston, are slowly adding their own menu items, while removing others. C&D is known for burgers, shakes, fries, hot dogs, chicken finger baskets and more. The Houston location gets strong online reviews.
Tabor on Facebook thanked longtime patrons.
“I have devoted my last 12 years to this business, committing both myself and my family, both physically and mentally to this great hometown location,” Tabor posted. “It has taught me a great deal of life and helped me mature in so many ways. Owning Red Cap has blessed me with the opportunity to learn and know what a community family is.”
Shoptalk: Islanders and visitors have more retail options. Linda Alexander has opened The Coast Shop, 1905 45th St. in Galveston.
“I have been planning a shop like The Coast Shop for several years when I noticed that even though the Gulf Coast has an active coastal lifestyle, there was a lack of quality coastal style clothing and various household and gift items,” Alexander said. “I have traveled to California and Florida and noted that the type of store I envisioned did exist in those areas, and I saw no reason why the Gulf Coast shouldn’t have the same type of store.”
Although more recently the quality of stores in the Gulf area has improved, there’s room for her shop, Alexander said. The Galveston store will offer year-round coastal items and marks the second for Alexander. The other is at 911 W. Main St. in League City. The Coast Shop carries coastal wear for men, women and children. Along with apparel, inventory includes jewelry, gifts, household items and more.
Suite deal: Three new tenants have moved into West Island Professional Center, 6511 Stewart Road in Galveston.
• Bruce W. Craft, born on the island, has opened Galvez Insurance Agency in Suite 5D of the center. The agency offers a full line, including auto, life, home, watercraft and motorcycle insurance. Craft previously worked at Prudential and American General Insurance Cos.
• Theresa Kitchens has opened Kitchens Financial Services in Suite 5 at the center. The company offers bookkeeping services for individuals and businesses in a variety of industries. “We provide startup, cleanup as well as full-service bookkeeping for established businesses,” Kitchens said.
• Dennis J. Zgaljardic also has set up offices in Suite 5C of West Island Professional Center. Zgaljardic is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist. A clinical neuropsychologist is a licensed psychologist with expertise in how behavior and skills are related to brain structures and systems. Such psychologists help doctors and other professionals understand how the different areas and systems of the brain are working, particularly after a brain injury, such as a stroke, or neurodegenerative issues, such as dementia, or a psychiatric disorder.
Kay and Benny Davis own and manage West Island Professional Center, which has developed some suites to include shared reception areas and meeting rooms to accommodate smaller businesses and tenants.
Coming Thursday: What has Galveston’s Moody Mansion, a popular tourist attraction, done to celebrate 25 years of being open as a historic house museum? Find out next week in Biz Buzz.