Galveston’s Unprotected Historic Neighborhoods

6th Street to 103rd Street / Galveston Harbor to the Gulf of Mexico

The city of Galveston is situated on the east end of a long barrier island 50 miles south of downtown Houston. The city has weathered many disasters since its founding in 1839. When much of the country’s historic façade was being eroded to make way for strip centers and new development, Galveston’s economic situation prevented that from happening there. However, over the past five years Galveston has been re-discovered by developers, investors and retirees.

Galveston has five historic districts but much of the city remains unprotected from inappropriate construction or demolition. Large parcels of land have been purchased by developers to build condominium and hotel towers with gulf views. Though the City requires specific permits in the historic core of the city for any building over four stories tall, except along the Seawall, this does not mean developments with looming towers cannot be built. It merely informs the neighbors of the plans for development and gives them a chance to voice their opinion to the Planning Commission, which can ultimately approve or deny a developer’s request. Stricter design and height guidelines must be studied and approved to prevent a wall of development from cutting off the historic neighborhoods from the Gulf of Mexico and disrupting the charm that brings people to the island.

UPDATE: In 2008, the City of Galveston adopted design guidelines for Height and Density Overlay Zones.