Potential AT&T Building Investor Selim Kiralp Talks Plans For Downtown Beaumont

A Dallas-based real estate investor plans to send a formal offer letter to the city of Beaumont this week to purchase the downtown AT&T building.

The offer will come during a trip to the city, which Selim Kiralp does up to three times a month, usually to check out a property he already owns. This time, however, he was also looking at the AT&T building.

Kiralp has been in the real estate business for over a decade. He started in his home country of Turkey, but after observing the economy in Turkey and the United States, he immigrated with his family to America and continued his business in Texas for the past six years.

“I chose Texas because Texas is growing,” Kiralp said. “And I didn’t come to Dallas randomly. I did my research on it. After six years, I can say that I made the right decision.

Even with the rising cost of living in the Lone Star State, Kiralp says Texas still has room to grow and he would recommend people invest in that state like he wants to invest in Beaumont – a metropolis that , according to him, could really go somewhere, if handled correctly.

“As a property developer and investor, the majority of my time is spent finding properties that make commercial sense to me, cities where I see potential. And I travel a lot,” he said. “I traveled to Beaumont before buying my first property in Beaumont. And I saw the potential here.

He specifically said he saw potential in downtown Beaumont and that the area could be a much better place.

But the current plans put forward by the city of Beaumont to demolish the building at 555 Main Street don’t make sense, he said.

“It’s not a very old building that’s about to collapse. It’s a solid building,” he said. “It has never been flooded. There is no water in the building. He just needs a makeup.

His plan would be to transform the building from scratch, and maybe even beyond.

“Put retail and restaurants, cafes, bars on the ground floor – apartments above. The basement is going to have a fitness room and an indoor swimming pool which will be free for tenants who live in apartments. He’s also going to sell memberships — that’s going to include a sauna, etc. In fact, the building was structured to go taller as well. So, I’m planning to put a rooftop bar there. I could go higher with the building and then move the rooftop bar to a higher floor.

The building he has in mind is upscale and remodeled.

“I want to put luxury apartments,” he said. “I’m thinking of an apartment that has an entrance hall and the front doors are locked. There will be someone greeting you at the entrance and if you have guests they will greet your guests (and) call you, like a hotel lobby.

He also considered building an actual hotel above the apartments if he expands the building. It can be done quietly and discreetly, he said, citing buildings in Manhattan as a case study.

He is also interested in bringing people to rent kayaks on the river’s edge, and if the battleship Texas came to rest in the Neches River, he also offered to set up a museum there.

Kiralp made the city a verbal offer of $3 million. On Wednesday, he said he planned to send a formal offer letter on Thursday.

He is, however, aware of the arrangement with the building’s previous owner, Tom Flanagan, that the city must demolish the building after buying it – or he will buy the building back. If the city finds common ground, Kiralp agrees to buy the building.

The city is evaluating the suitability of the Kiralp company for such an ambitious project.

“We’re dealing with a few issues,” acting city manager Chris Boone said last week. “The first is the developer’s experience and ability to pull off a project like this. So we are conducting this investigation at the moment.

On Wednesday, Boone said the investigation was not over. The city is still reviewing documentation and comparable projects.

Kiralp, however, insists he’s up for the challenge.

“I have worked on the rehabilitation of many historical buildings in Turkey. Some of the buildings were built in the 1800s. They were actually my first projects when I started investing in real estate. And I have doing a lot of rehabilitation work, more than just building from scratch,” the investor said. “And like I said, I’m building here right now, so I also have experience in construction from the ground.

He says he is currently developing a $10 million apartment complex with 108 units near Lamar University, which is expected to open in August. He said he was at 130% occupancy with a waiting list but declined to provide the name of the building.

Looking to the future, Kiralp has offered to close the property in 90 days if its offer is accepted. He estimates that it will not take more than a year to do the structural studies, design and apply for a permit. Construction could be finished in 2 years, he said.

The investor says he only works with people at the top of their game in Texas. So, in his mind, the only thing standing between him and the renovation of this building is waiting for the city to decide on the project.

“My team is very responsive,” Kiralp said. “So I’m looking at three years in total on my side, plus city time.”

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