The Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves in a special meeting on Monday held an extensive public discussion of the pending sale of the Shearn Moody Plaza Parking Garage by the City of Galveston. The discussion was followed by a closed-door meeting on the issue, but the wharves board did not take definitive action.
Developer George Mitchell and Mitchell Historic Properties had intended to purchase the city-owned garage as part of the development of the Downtown Transportation Terminal under the Livable Communities Initiative. The wharves board outbid Mitchell by $1.2 million but the terms of the sale require that the garage become a part of the terminal project. The wharves board met in closed session to discuss that requirement.
Dianna Puccetti, who is the city council ex-officio member of the wharves board, attended a portion of the executive session, but not all of it.
“In executive session we came up with some parameters and we’re asking the executive director to discuss those parameters with the city,” said Wharves Board Chair Roland Bassett. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
The board deferred action on the part of the agreement that requires “the acquisition, development and operation of an Intermodal Transportation Terminal” adjacent to the garage.
Earlier, before the executive session, Galveston City Manager Tom Muhlenbeck had told the wharves board he would be recommending to the city council that it accept the port’s bid.
“This Thursday I will be asking the city council to award the sale, pursuant to bid number 10-11-032, to the Board of Trustees of the City of Galveston Wharves for the purchase of the Shearn Moody Plaza Garage in the amount of $3,001,012.42 subject to the conditions delineated in the bid solicitation; and secondly we will be asking the council to accept a letter of intent between the City of Galveston and the Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves for the development of the Intermodal Transportation Terminal,” Muhlenbeck said.
Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Transportation consultant Barry Goodman said the terminal will serve a number of intermodal functions, including the Island Transit System, new park and ride services on the mainland, the track trolley when it returns, and future commuter rail service.
Wharves Board Trustee Benny Holland said that the port’s bid for the garage was a defensive act not offensive, explaining that the wharves board was concerned about another competitor for cruise ship parking. He asked about Mitchell’s intentions regarding cruise parking.
“Is it possible that the Mitchell group and the port could sit down and work this thing out to resolve our issues and your issues?” Holland asked. “I want you to understand, we are not trying to kill anything that is good for the city but the port is limited on what we can do and can’t do. We have got to protect our backside. Is it possible for us to sit down and work it out? Or is it an ‘either-or’?”
“Well, we look at it as an either –or,” replied Mitchell Senior Vice President Bill Ross. “And here is the reason why: We looked at the revenue that would be generated. And yes, we were looking at cruise parking to help us.”
Ross said “day trippers” from Houston will not be sufficient to fill the spaces in the garage and noted that Mitchell already has a 600 space garage for shoppers on The Strand, “and we don’t get a lot of business.”
Holland said the port also has a parking lot that does little business.
Galveston City Council will discuss the new “parameters” proposed by the wharves board at Thursday’s meeting. The wharves board will discuss the Intermodal Transportation Terminal issue at next Monday’s regular meeting.