Island University Ceremonially Signs Purchase Documents for New Downtown Building

By Luisa Buttler | Published: December 13, 2019

Island University Ceremonially Signs Purchase Documents for New Downtown Building

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi commemorated the historic expansion of the Island University with a ceremonial signing of documents signifying the purchase of a five-story building located at 223 N. Chaparral St. in Downtown Corpus Christi.

Guests packed the first floor of the 77,000 square foot structure to witness the documents being signed by University President Dr. Kelly Miller Quintanilla and previous building owners Janet and Ernest “Buz” Maxwell.

“This building not only helps us address our space needs, but it is also an investment in a city that has given us so much,” said Miller Quintanilla at the Dec. 12 event. “This building continues our tradition of partnership with the community, and it aids in the economic development of Downtown Corpus Christi along with our entire region.”

The building was purchased for $2.3 million. Preliminary plans for the building include mixed-use space for public-facing University programs with a focus on academics, arts, job creation, and business development. It will also hold archives, while the rooftop terrace will be used to host events.

“Opportunities related to emergency management, business incubation and entrepreneurship, port studies, and the Harte Research Institute’s Center for the Environment and the Economy are likely residents for this space,” said Miller Quintanilla. “The building will include a gallery to support our incredible art programs, as well as a space to sell student art. It will also include space for special lectures and events highlighting our esteemed university experts.”

The University will extend the lease of the Downtown Management District (DMD) – the building’s current tenants – with the goal of increasing internship opportunities at the DMD and across and the city.

Building interior filled with people

Islander alumna Alyssa Barrera Mason ’10, ’12, DMD Executive Director and Interim CEO of the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau, was instrumental in the acquisition of the new property. Aware that the Island University was looking to expand their presence downtown, Mason contacted Miller Quintanilla – her former professor – to inform her of the newly available space.

“A strong downtown is key to evolving our economy and improving the quality of life, and the brick and mortar location of this marvelous University is key to a strong downtown,” Mason said. “Let us take a second to marvel at the unknown futures that will be impacted by having education so much closer, with a physical presence in the heart of our city. We don’t know what these young people will create but we have given them a platform.”

Janet and Ernest “Buz” Maxwell joined President Miller Quintanilla in the signing of the ceremonial documents, signifying the passing of ownership from the Maxwells to A&M-Corpus Christi. At the event, Miller Quintanilla announced that building’s future gallery space will be named after the Maxwells.

“I have a lot of memories in this building,” said Janet Maxwell. “I used to shop here with my mother when I was a little girl, and I was so excited when Buz and I were able to purchase this building. It has served us well and now it’s time to let it go. I’m thrilled that the new owner – the perfect new owner – is Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.”

Buz Maxwell shared his wife’s sentiments.

“We are so excited that A&M-Corpus Christi now owns this building. Kelly is right in believing that a vibrant downtown is important,” said Buz Maxwell. “A&M-Corpus Christi coming into downtown will take this area to a new level. It’s going to be exciting to see what’s going to happen in the next few years.”

The University is working to secure grants and other sources of funding for building renovations. A grand opening event will be held at a later date.

“Thank you to all who have supported and pushed for the University presence downtown and thank you to all who are working to secure grants and funding to renovate this space,” said Miller Quintanilla. “Thank you all that believe in our students and support the mission of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi today and every day.”