A $5 million reconstruction of the historic W.L. Moody building on the corner of The Strand and 22nd Street downtown has been going slower than planned, but crews this week celebrated 18 months of nearly completed work on the exterior.
While some details still need work on the outside, the crews should soon be ready to move into the interior work, property owner Keith Bassett said.
Originally, Bassett hoped to complete the building, at 2202 Strand, by the end of this year, but the project has taken longer than he expected, he said.
“We were just going to repair the brick as needed,” Bassett said. “As we got further along into the project, we needed to repair all of the exterior brick into the building.”
Crews also replaced the grout between bricks, rebuilt windows and doors and built several structural repairs.
About 75 percent of the exterior cast-iron repairs are complete, as well, Bassett said.
The 1883 building was commissioned by Col. William L. Moody, who moved to Galveston in 1866. He hired architect Nicholas Clayton to design a building to house his cotton commission and banking business and replace a structure that burned in 1882.
Clayton is largely considered the first professional architect in the state, Bassett said.
The historic building is most recently associated with the Col. Bubbie’s Strand Surplus Senter, which operated from 1972 to 2015 and sold a vast array of military equipment, uniforms, curiosities and ephemera.
The building already has gone through several renovations throughout its life, Doug McLean, of McLean Metal Works, said.
He and his crews have been working on the cast-iron repairs, he said.
“It’s such a center point, that building,” McLean said. “It’s the biggest, most prominent building down there.”
Bassett estimates another 18 months or so of work on the building, but hopes to open the bottom floor, which will house a yet-to-be-determined retail store, by the end of next summer, he said.
Remodeling of the upper floors into two- and three-bedroom apartments will come afterward with a planned December 2019 completion date, Bassett said.
The renovation is funded partly through state and federal tax credits, Bassett said.
This was the biggest help, but Bassett also has a 380 Agreement with the city of Galveston, he said. The agreement allows Bassett to put as much as $1.5 million in future sales tax revenue toward construction costs, he said.
The building has been fun for crews to work on, carpenter Fred Williams said.
“It’s really neat seeing everything going back together the way it was,” Williams said. “When you’re putting stuff back together, you can see the way they built things.”
Restoring historic structures, such as the W.L. Moody building, is not only helpful for beautifying the downtown area but also attracts tourists, said Trey Click, executive director of the Historic Downtown Partnership.
“The people we attract here are history buffs,” Click said. “I hope there’s more of this. We should be doing this and a lot more.”