Advisory Services Panel – The Strand Seaport, Galveston TX

Date: March 19 – 21, 2007
Location: Galveston, TX
Sponsor: the Mitchell family, GPM Inc.
Chair: Zane Segal
Subject Area: Downtown Revitalization, Urban Design

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Summary of Recommendations:

GPM, Inc. sponsored a ULI Fellows panel that addressed the following limited-scope assignment: What attractions and linkages are critical to the further success of the Strand Seaport? The panel strongly suggested creating an updated vision for the subject area, because without this vision, no basis existed for rational planning. The vision had to include input from all members of the Galveston community, the government, residents, visitors, and stakeholders.

The panel did not give specific land use plans for the Strand Seaport site but they did suggest two special areas that needed to be improved on. First, the issue of connectivity was a perplexing one, because of Harborside Drive and the train tracks separating the site. These barriers caused disconnect between the northern seaport and southern seaport. The second issue, relating to the first, was a problem with pedestrian circulation. A safe, attractive, and interesting pedestrian connection was needed from the seaport through the Strand and all the way to Post Office Street. A sky bridge or landscaped median with enhanced crosswalks presented the best solution. Open green space, place making elements, and infill development were all suggested changes made by the panel that would have big impacts. It was imperative for GPM, Inc. to settle the issues of land leasing or land purchasing with the city, with the land purchasing option providing much more of an economic stimulus to the community, due to the fact that GPM could then develop without restrictions and much more densely. The Strand Seaport had the potential to become a regional draw far beyond its current status, and increase civic pride and engagement in Galveston.

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