BEAUMONT, Texas — Last-minute interest from an outside investor could save the old AT&T building in Beaumont from demolition.
This comes just a month after the Beaumont council voted 4 to 2 to tear it down and make way for riverfront development.
Beaumont City Councilman Mike Getz confirmed Tuesday that a private investor recently expressed interest in buying the building.
That led the council to reevaluate their original plans to demolish it.
It was at that special workshop where city council members saw design plans for the AT&T building site from a firm out of Houston.
Getz, like many Southeast Texans, wants to see downtown Beaumont flourish.
"We have an opportunity now with a potential investor to make that happen," Getz said.
Getz said it all starts with the AT&T building and adjacent riverfront area downtown.
The city council bought the building from then-owner Tom Flanagan last July for $2.8 million and recently voted 4 to 2 in favor of demolishing it.
It’s something Getz said he's against because, in addition to the $2.8 million purchase, there are other expenses at hand.
"We have spent $300,000 in asbestos abatement and monitoring, and we're gonna spend at least another $800,000 in demolition of the building if we go through with that," Getz said.
According to Getz, the total costs would come out to roughly $4 million, leaving the city with $1 million left in its budget for the project and a pile of dirt.
Getz also said part of the original purchase contract between the city and Flanagan is that Flanagan has the right to buy the building back for the same price the city paid if they don't demolish it.
That was the city's plan until Getz said a private investor stepped up recently with interest in buying the building.
"What has been the plan all along,” Getz said. “To try to get people downtown, living downtown. Try to find ways to get restaurants out on the water. This investor says he wants to do all that and give the city $3 million back to buy the building back from the city."
The city council met in an executive session after Tuesday’s council meeting to discuss the contract with Flanagan, and they decided to resume discussions regarding the AT&T building during next Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Getz said the best place for the building is in the hands of the private sector.
"This investor has indicated a desire to do something with that building, something that would be transformational, something that would be incredible for downtown," Getz said.
Getz said he's spoken to the city about plans after demolition, but he said there are none at this point.