After decades of neglect, Galveston's historic Falstaff Brewery could be getting another lease on life with some help from a noted North Texas developer with a reputation for both architecturally-savvy new projects and high-profile vintage restorations.
Located just west of the island's popular Strand district, the hulking 1895 factory has become a troubled landmark of Astrodome proportions, splitting public opinion into factions advocating for its destruction and others championing its cultural significance.
After a deal to acquire Dallas' iconic mid-century Statler Hotel collapsed in early July, real estate firm Matthews Southwest is turning its attention towards Galveston's abandoned brewery. Company officials are unable to reveal the full details until a purchase is finalized.
But CultureMap spoke with current project leader Scott Galbraith, whose position as Matthews Southwest's vice president of affordable income development suggests the company's larger plans for the complex. Blocks away, a large mixed-income residential project is underway to help replace nearly 600 public housing units lost in Hurricane Ike.
"Every building has different nuances to it. There could be a lot of potential here."
Galbraith is optimistic about the future of the brewery. The building's most recent use has been as the setting for a 2010 horror film about a group of architecture students who get trapped inside an abandoned building during a storm.
"Every building has different nuances to it," Galbraith says. "Right now we're doing a complete analysis on the site to best understand everything from architecture to environmental issues to land use.
"There could be a lot of potential here."
As one of the last remaining industrial buildings in the island's so-called Factory District, the Galveston Historical Foundation placed the brewery on its Heritage at Risk List, suggesting that the reinforced concrete structure could be rehabilitated to serve a number of needed neighborhood uses.
In recent years, this type of responsible architectural consideration has been the key to Matthews Southwest's public acclaim as it continues to help reinvigorate downtown Dallas with projects like the new LEED-certified Omni Hotel and an overhaul of a 1910 Sears, Roebuck warehouse.