The Red Roof Inn at the corner of Nueces Bay Boulevard and Buffalo Street near Interstate 37 was an operating Corpus Christi hotel in November.
Now the building has a new — and some might say higher — purpose.
By the end of 2020, the wealthy nonprofit Ed Rachal Foundation closed its deal to purchase the hotel for roughly $4.3 million, said Paul Atheide, foundation CEO.
The Good Samaritan Rescue Mission plans to make the three-story, 85-room hotel its new homeless shelter.
“We’re excited that we finally got to the point we’re seeing good things happen,” Atheide said. “It’s going to be a great thing for the homeless.”
Good Samaritan’s current facility of 130 beds at 210 S. Alameda St. is made up of nearly century-old buildings that are falling apart. The new location would eventually 207 beds, but would be limited to 160 the first year due to COVID-19 protocols, renovations and scaling operations, according to City Manager Peter Zanoni.
The organization has entered into a 60-year lease to rent the hotel from the foundation.
Last week, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved a zoning change for the Red Roof Inn to become the new Good Samaritan.
The project is expected to go to City Council in June, Zanoni said. Improvements to shelters in Corpus Christi are “critical” to address the city’s homeless issue, he said.
“The Good Samaritan organization continues to be strategic in their future planning, and this project demonstrates the benefit in doing so,” Zanoni said.
.Atheide said the shelter could be operational soon but he didn’t know exactly when. The Good Samaritan is making minor renovations, such as painting, to get the hotel ready. The foundation is also waiting on city building permits to construct an 8,000-square-foot cafeteria and kitchen next door.
Carole Murphrey, executive director of the Good Samaritan, didn’t respond to multiple requests for an interview.
The local foundation owns the current Good Samaritan facility along and plans to demolish it once the organization completes its move. Atheide wants to make way for new potential development.
The Ed Rachal Foundation has been trying to secure a new facility to house the shelter for almost a decade. In May 2018, the foundation bought the old Lamar Elementary School, at 2212 Morris St., near Crosstown Expressway and Agnes Street.
The nonprofit had planned to invest roughly $5 million to convert the vacant former school into a new 308-bed shelter for Good Samaritan. However, the project was voted down when it went to the city’s planning commission in late 2019.
“When we went to get the zoning, properly done, the neighborhood got real upset, came out, protested very loudly that they didn’t want a homeless shelter in the neighborhood,” Atheide said. “We kind of ran into a brick wall.”
The Red Roof Inn project had no neighboring opposition, according to city documents. The area is less residential than the neighborhood surrounding the elementary school, Atheide said. Interstate 37 and Nueces Bay Boulevard is made up mainly of hotels, gas stations and industrial businesses. There are a few surrounding apartment complexes.
The former Lamar Elementary School is still owned by the foundation, and is set to become city office space. City Council supported the idea in spring 2020.
Project design is about half way done. Atheide hopes renovations begin this summer and are completed in roughly a year. The nonprofit plans to spend more than $4 million on the project and will rent the space to the city for at least half of market rate.
“We’re going try to get it to a point where it can be used very quick,” he said.
In his will dated June 2, 1964, the late Ed Rachal, a Rockport-born rancher, decreed that his estate be used to establish a foundation benefiting “charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes within the State of Texas.” It was established July 29, 1965, after the deaths of Rachal and his wife, Louise.
The Ed Rachal Foundation’s tax form 990s show it derives most of its revenues from oil and gas royalties. Its net assets and fund balances at the end of 2017 were more than $520 million.
Kathryn Cargo follows business openings and developments while reporting on impacts of the city government’s decisions.See our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe.