Historic Preservation To The Jean Lafitte Hotel A Major New Investment In Galveston’s Historic Strand District

Chris Akbari, Vice President, The ITEX Group (left center), and Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski (right center), cut the ceremonial ribbon at the groundbreaking for the Church Street apartments.
Chris Akbari, Vice President, The ITEX Group (left center), and Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski (right center), cut the ceremonial ribbon at the groundbreaking for the Church Street apartments.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Church Street Apartments was held on December 6, 2011, at the historic building located at 2101 Church Street, Galveston, TX. Officials of HUD and the Texas Department of Community & Housing Affairs (TDCHA), Galveston city leaders, Galveston Chamber of Commerce and community and business leaders gathered to celebrate the commencement of the new $9.75 million private construction project in Galveston’s Strand Historic District.

The ITEX Group has begun a major historic preservation and renovation project to transform the 10-story Jean Lafitte Hotel (originally constructed in 1927) into apartments and commercial space. The hotel has been vacant for several years and sustained significant damage during Hurricane Ike. Financing includes FHA insurance, a HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery loan, equity from the sale of historic tax credits and equity from the ITEX Group. As a condition of the financing, ITEX has agreed to lease 43 of the 83 units to persons earning 80% of the area median income.

Joe Jaworski, Galveston Mayor, congratulated The ITEX Group, “I know that you have worked very hard for more than two years to purchase the property, architecturally design this wonderful project to meet the renovation standards required for historic buildings and put together the necessary financing. This project will help bring people back to revitalize our downtown as we work to attract private investment and new attractions in the Strand Historic District. We thank you for your persistence and belief in the future of our City.”
Raynold Richardson, Director, HUD Houston Multifamily Housing Division, added, “The Department is pleased to be a key participant with the historic endeavor. The FHA mortgage insurance and HUD Disaster Recovery funding is a prime example of the Department’s effort and commitment to assist in the redevelopment of Galveston and to provide quality additional affordable housing.”Chris Akbari, ITEX Vice President noted, “We are confident in the future of the City of Galveston and this property. The historic district has many entertainment features and an increasing number of tourists visiting to board cruise ships. The Historical Society tells me the Jean Lafitte Hotel was known as ‘The People’s Hotel.’ Today, additional housing is needed in downtown to support the people working in the expanding dining, entertainment, historical and medical industries.”

Church-Street2“When construction is completed in approximately 12-14 months, 2101 Church Street Apartments will have 83 one and two-bedroom apartments. The modern loft design incorporates hardwood flooring, granite countertops, solid wood cabinets and ceramic tile. The structure will be eco-friendly with Energy Star rated appliances. We have worked closely on the design with the Galveston Historical Society to maintain the historic look and feel of the building. However, we have a few external amenities including a resort-style courtyard, pool, and spa which the pirate Jean Lafitte didn’t have on his island,” said Akbari. The Historic Strand District features many shops, restaurants, galleries and museums, including the Galveston Island Railroad Museum and the tall ship Elissa.

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