Possible AT&T Building investor, Selim Kiralp, talks plans for downtown Beaumont

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

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

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

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

Even with the cost of living rising in the Lone Star State, Kiralp says Texas still has room to grow and he would recommend that people invest in this state the way he wants to invest in Beaumont — a metropolis he thinks could really go somewhere, if handled properly. 

“As a real estate developer and investor, the majority of my time goes to searching for properties that makes sense to me business-wise, towns where I see potential. And I travel a lot,” he said. “I traveled to Beaumont before I bought my first property in Beaumont. And I saw the potential here.” 

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

But current plans put forth 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 is about to collapse. It’s a strong building,” he said. “It never got flooded. There’s no water in the building. It just needs a make-up.” 

His plan would be to transform the building from the ground-up, and maybe even beyond. 

“Put retail and restaurants, coffee shops, bars at the bottom floor — apartments on top of it. The basement is going to have fitness and indoor swimming pool that is going to be free for the tenants who are living in apartments. It’s going to be also selling memberships — that’s going to include sauna, etcetera. Actually, the building was structured to go higher as well. So, I’m planning to put a rooftop bar there. I might 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 about an apartment that has a lobby and the entrance gates are locked. There is going to be someone welcoming you at the entrance and if you have guests coming, they welcome your guests (and) will give you a call, like a hotel lobby.” 

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

He is interested in bringing in people to rent kayaks on the riverfront as well, and if the Battleship Texas came to rest in the Neches River, he has offered to put a museum there also.

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

He is aware, however, of the arrangement with previous building owner Tom Flanagan, that the city must demolish the building after having purchased it from him – or else he will re-purchase the building. Should the city find a middle ground, Kiralp is committed to purchasing the building. 

The city is assessing Kiralp’s firm’s fitness for such an ambitious project.

“We are wrestling with a couple of issues,” interim city manager Chris Boone said last week. “One is the developer’s experience and capacity to be successful with a project like that. So we’re doing that investigation right now.” 

As of Wednesday, Boone said that investigation has not been concluded. The city is still reviewing documentation and comparable projects.

Kiralp, however, insists he is ready for the challenge. 

“I worked on rehabbing a lot of historical buildings back in Turkey. Some of the buildings were built in the 1800s. Those were actually my first projects when I started real estate investing. And I did a lot of rehab work, more than building from scratch,” the investor said. “And as I said, I’m building here right now. So I have experiences in building from ground as well.”

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

Looking to the future, Kiralp has offered to close on the property in 90 days if his bid is accepted. He estimates it will take no more than a year to do structural studies, design and apply for a permit. Construction could finish 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 between him and renovating this building is waiting on the city to come to a decision about the project.

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


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