Following the City pf Port Isabel’s decision to select Star Consultants & Associates to lead the rehabilitation effort to transform the Port Isabel Yacht Club into the municipality’s Culinary Arts Institute, a long set of meticulous phases were approved and set in motion, which included securing funds, determining design and reconstruction. Rehabilitation architects responsible have had abundant experience with the preservation of buildings, not only in South Texas, but in Dallas and Austin.
The city sought a $2.4 million loan for the acquisition of property, which was $750,000, and restoration of the hotel, now almost 90 years old, from the Texas Leverage Fund. Additional funding was received through a competitive grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) of %1.2 million through the stabilization and construction phases. Grants were also received from the Texas Historical Commission, and private foundations. The maximum projected budget is set at $5 million.
The property will be secured with a temporary chain-link fence during the rehabilitation process. All the antiques and furnishings within will be gathered and put into storage. What structures are mendable will be renovated and what is deemed unrecoverable, such as some interior walls, will be selectively demolished.
The previous owner, John Hiller, purchased the hotel prior to completion plans made to destroy it with intentions to restore it, but eventually the task proved too great to maintain. Then the more practical idea came to “reuse, rather than restore” and plans for future economic development eventually advanced to transforming the once proud hotel into a culinary school – its likeness intact. The institute is expected to host test kitchens, incubator spaces, five classrooms, verandas, and an operating restaurant. Complete restoration will ideally be finished in 18 months.
Estevan Medrano