Building buy: Confidence in the island’s downtown residential market continues to grow. An entity going by SHF Strand LP has acquired the historic building containing The Strand Lofts, 2400 Mechanic St., from developer Randall Davis.
The new owners likely will convert the 37 lofts for rent into units for sale, said Rusty Herring, who has been manager of five-story property for 15 years. Davis, who is credited with launching a loft trend in Houston and restoring historic buildings, including the nationally known Rice Hotel, bought The Strand Lofts in 1993. In 1995, he converted what was known as the Clarke & Courts Building, built in 1890, into a loft complex. The Clarke & Courts Building was the largest downtown business building that renowned island architect Nicholas Clayton designed, according to the Galveston Architecture Guidebook.
The building originally was built to contain the “Texas House,” as printer Robert Clarke and stationer George M. Courts advertised their business, which specialized in the production of printed forms, government record forms and bankchecks, according to the guidebook. The loft complex is fully occupied, Herring said.
Information about the new owners and when they would begin converting units for sale wasn’t immediately available. Stay tuned.
Apartment department: In other downtown residential news, transformation of the Jean Lafitte Hotel, 2101 Church St. in the island’s downtown, is nearly complete.
Crews are making final touches and move-ins are a few months away at the 83-unit apartment complex. But beginning Tuesday, a manager will be on site to answer questions.
A model unit also will be available for viewing. So far, about 20 people are on a waiting list for units in what will be called 2101 Church Street Apartments.
Financing for the project comes from several sources; $3 million from the sale of historic tax credits from a federal program meant to encourage preservation; $5 million from a Community Development Block Grant administered for disaster recovery after Hurricane Ike struck in 2008; and $2.8 million Federal Housing Administration-backed loan from Davis Penn and equity from The ITEX Group, which is the developer.
The government funding comes with stipulations, including that the developer set aside 46 units for people earning 80 percent or less of the median income.
Meanwhile, there’s still no word on which retail operators will occupy the building’s first floor. Visit 2101churchstreet.com for apartment information.
Bottoms up: The island’s Economy Liquor stores — 1911 23rd St. and 16708 FM 3005 in Jamaica Beach — have new owners. Business partners T.J. Bath and Dan Hawkins acquired Economy Liquor from Bob and Evelyn McCurry, who have operated the island business for 20 years.
Bath and Hawkins don’t intend to make major changes at the stores, which have done well. But they do plan to do more marketing through social media, Bath said. And they plan to build more local business relationships, he said.
“The business is built on relationships,” Bath said. “The pricing is very competitive, and we want to stay competitive.”
Supper suspended: Meanwhile, Bath and Hawkins have put their other island venture, Galveston Supper Club, 1127 Postoffice St., on the back burner. The partners opened the made-from-scratch, home-style meal delivery service last year to strong reviews.
They believe the concept is a viable one and it’s only on hold as the partners search for a good cook who can handle the logistics of such a service, Bath said. Stay tuned.
Retail report: In a sizable transaction, Sears Outlet has agreed to lease 33,494 square feet at the Clear Lake Center, on the southwest corner of NASA Parkway and Interstate 45 in Webster.
Sears Outlet, which offers discounted and scratch-and-dent merchandise along with other wares, will count Burlington Coat Factory and Garden Ridge as company in the 388,000-square-foot shopping center. Before year’s end, Sears will move into the space formerly occupied by Room Store. Tim Sandifer of United Equities handled the lease negotiation. The Webster location will mark Sears’ fourth outlet concept in the Houston area.
Biz birthday: Has it been a year already? East End island eatery Wells Grill, 3823 Winnie St., is celebrating its anniversary. Wells Grill, owned by Eric Wells, is known for wings, sweet rolls, slushies and burgers, especially the “Junk Burger,” a double-meat masterpiece with such toppings as two strips of bacon, eggs, tomato, onions and pickles.
“No one can finish it in one sitting,” Wells said.
Look soon for news about an anniversary celebration.
Laura Elder is a reporter for The Daily News. Biz Buzz appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email your tips and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.