This story has been updated since it was published this morning.
Galveston City Council this afternoon voted unanimously to approve a ground lease with 2418 Strand Corp. for the development of an intermodal transit/parking terminal on the northeast corner of 25th Street and The Strand, as part of the Livable Communities Initiative.
“As you know we have been working with the city and representatives of George Mitchell’s organization, Mitchell Historic Properties, on the development of the Downtown Transportation Terminal,” said transportation consultant Barry Goodman at this morning’s workshop, reviewing the purchase of the property from the Brown Family Trust by Mitchell and explaining the need for a 40 year lease with 2418 Strand Corp., the entity Mitchell designated for the project. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
“We are excited,” Goodman said. “I just realized sitting in council a few minutes ago that we’ve been at this for seven years and we finally are on the cusp of making this a reality.”
Goodman said the terminal, which will provide a transportation “hub” connecting the Island Transit bus and trolley system with the proposed commuter rail terminal at Shearn Moody Plaza, and will include parking and retail space, will cost about $4.5 to $5 million, leaving another $2 million for other downtown improvements under the Livable Communities Initiative grant.
Council Member Elizabeth Beeton questioned the value of the terminal.
“I don’t really know if we need a transportation hub,” she said. “I realize it’s free. The federal government likes them and funds them, and maybe it’s something we can use. We are going to get 150 parking spaces out of the deal, we’re going to get public restrooms out of the deal.”
“And retail,” added Mayor Joe Jaworski.
“I don’t know that we need retail downtown,” Beeton replied. “I think our property owners down there are struggling to keep their businesses occupied as it is.”
Other members of the city council disagreed with Beeton’s opposition to the terminal.
“The transportation terminal is vital for the long-term viability (of the downtown),” said City Council Member Dianna Puccetti.
“My understanding is that the transportation center is paramount to this entire federal funding,” said Council Member Rusty Legg, who represents the downtown area on the city council. He noted that he has been following the Livable Communities Initiative project since his wife Patricia Bolton-Legg was on the city council.
“Well, let’s keep the price of the transportation center within reason,” Beeton insisted.
Beeton voted with the other members to approve the ground lease at this afternoon’s regular meeting.