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Beaumont City Council votes 6-1 to buy AT&T building

Dozens of people who packed council chambers Tuesday left behind empty seats, walking out once the vote was decided.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The Beaumont City Council has voted to buy the AT&T building in downtown Beaumont.

City council voted 6 - 1 to purchase the building with councilman Mike Getz being the lone abstainer. The mayor and five other council members voted in favor of the purchase.

But Getz isn't the only on against the deal. Mary Williams said she isn't pleased with Tuesday’s outcome.

“I think I speak for a lot of people in Beaumont because the reaction is just really disappointing right now,” Williams said.

Dozens of people who packed council chambers Tuesday left behind empty seats, walking out once the vote was decided.

“So much money that's going to be used to demolish that building could be used for so much more things in Beaumont,” Williams said.

But Christopher Matthews said it's OK to focus on downtown development and infrastructure.

“As humans, we're complex to be able to do two things at one time,” Matthews said.

He trusts that the city won’t let the community down as they move forward with plans for a riverfront development.

“I think that this is a great decision to move forward with. You find Beaumont downtown revitalizing giving the citizens something recreational to do,” Matthews said.

Despite the divide, both Williams and Matthew said they hope the move will finally push the city forward.

“I hope we can get past the negative reaction and the positive, you know. The people who had who were for it can get along with the people who were against it,” Williams said.

“Also giving them hope for the future and future development in investments in that area,” Matthews said.

The city offered no timeline for closing on the building and starting the demolition.

The city is planning to buy the property located on 555 Main Street and then demolish it to make room for riverfront development.

On Friday, July 16, the city released images from their plans for possible uses of the space where the AT&T building sits. City Manager Kyle Hayes estimates the entire project would cost about $5 million.

Hayes estimates roughly $2.8 million would cover the purchase price of the property from current owner Tom Flanagan. Other expenses would cover the cost of demolition and land improvements.

Beaumont City Councilman Mike Getz said this new idea may not be the best one.

"This is what I’m trying to promote on land that we already own this is celebration park in Naples, Florida. It’s an upscale food truck park," Getz said.

On Tuesday, July 13 the city held a meeting to gauge where the Beaumont community stood on the purchase decision.

The community seemed evenly split on the city’s decision to purchase the building. Some said the purchase of the building would bring in money more to the city.

“You get something in downtown Beaumont, and you see people coming off the freeway to visit,” a member of the Beaumont community who was for the purchase said. “That is money you do not have to spend because that will bring tax dollars to the city. That is what people are not understanding.”

Others argued the money spent on this could be used to better the city of Beaumont. “To develop money into this is not wise when we need streets that do not flood. We need our sewage improved. We need a lot of infrastructures, and this is not infrastructure.”

The city lost the building in 2019 online auction, when Tom Flanagan bought it for more than $2 million. The auction for the building started Feb.11, 2019 and ended Feb. 13, 2019.

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