KAI Selected as Architecture Team Member for Galveston Housing Authority Project

We are pleased to announce that KAI has been chosen to be part of the architecture team for the Galveston Housing Authority (GHA) for the redevelopment of several former public housing sites. The purpose of the project is to redevelop between 282 and 479 public housing units in vibrant mixed-income communities on multiple sites on Galveston Island.

The City of Galveston is located on a barrier island along the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles south of Houston. With a population of around 47,000, the number of permanent residents in the city has been slowly declining while the number of second homeowners has been on the rise. Major industries on the island include tourism (employing approximately 30% of the population), shipping and port activities (the Port of Galveston served almost 800,000 departing cruise passengers last year), and health care (the largest single employer is the University of Texas Medical Branch).

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike struck Galveston’s shores with 110 mile winds and storm surges of 17 feet, causing an estimated $3.5 billion in damage on Galveston Island. More than 75% of the structures on the island sustained some level of damage. The 569 family public housing units at Magnolia Homes, Oleander Homes, Cedar Terrace and Palm Terrace were severely damaged. The City of Galveston declared the buildings unfit for human occupancy and GHA subsequently demolished the units in 2009.

After the storm, the resilient Galvestonians (who have rebuilt their city three times in the past 110 years), immediately began the task of rebuilding their island, turning the disaster into an opportunity to rebuild a more vibrant community. The City developed a Long Term Recovery Plan, the Urban Land Institute performed a targeted action plan (TAP) program to come up with strategies for implementation, neighborhood and downtown master plans were established, and significant funding (between $80 million and $120 million) was dedicated to help the rebuilding of public housing units. However, little has been done with the public housing sites. (Only one site, Palm Terrace, has been redeveloped. It is now a 40-unit, low-density, 100% public housing site).

In looking for successful public housing redevelopment models in other parts of the country, and after site visits to New Orleans and Atlanta, the GHA Board became interested in the mixed-income model. The GHA Board saw the unique opportunity for Galveston to rebuild its public housing in a way to enhance not only Galveston’s neighborhoods but also provide a service-rich environment within which residents of all ages could thrive.