DISTURBING DETAILS FROM THE FLAGSHIP HOTEL DEMO ACCIDENT A letter written by Grant MacKay Demolition owner Grant MacKay paints a harrowing picture of the circumstances surrounding the death of 65-year-old company worker Tauelangi Angilau in a collapse at the former Flagship Hotel on April 26th. In the letter, obtained from the city of Galveston by reporter Chris Paschenko, MacKay writes that he yelled for someone to retrieve 2 fuel cans he spotted in an area where a collapse appeared imminent. Two workers responded by running toward a portion of the structure a structural engineer later said “they were not supposed to be anywhere near.”: “’I immediately yelled at them to not go under the second floor slab above, but to get a shovel and reach for them from below (pier level),’ Grant MacKay wrote. ‘They either did not hear me or just ignored me.’ Workers continued to yell at the men to come out from under the slab, Grant MacKay wrote. . . . ‘At that precise moment, the north half of all the west bays began to collapse,’ Grant MacKay wrote. ‘We continued to yell that it was falling. Raphael heard us and jumped off, escaping the collapse. Tau didn’t move.’” [Galveston County Daily News; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Click2Houston
Yesterday a spokesperson for Landry’s told Galveston County Daily News Reporter Michael A. Smith that the company had already investigated claims that pieces of the Flagship Hotel it’s dismantling on Galveston’s 25th St. pier were finding their way into the water and “determined [them] to be false.” But what reports had the company actually looked into? By Wednesday, a website run by Galveston real-estate agent Bill Hill was featuring 7 separate accounts from witnesses claiming to have seen demolition workers or machinery knocking pieces of the building into the Gulf. And then there’s the video above, one of 3 assembled and posted Monday night by Flagship pier surfer Jeff Seinsheiner from a much longer weekend filming session. “The quality is shaky from shivers & cheap camera with no image stabilizer,” Seinsheiner explains in a note on Hill’s website. But: “I knew this would become a he said/she said without solid proof, so this should stop the nonsense.” As long as you look at it closely:
Watch for the bobcat on the first floor at 0:40…at 0:48 I see midair debris and at 0:49 I see splash. At 1:25 I see debris falling, at 1:26 splash, at 1:27 debris mid air, at 1:28 splash with more mid air debris above it.
Seinsheiner comments on the soundtrack of a later clip, which includes multiple OMGs: “By the way, we are non-denominational, but I needed a higher power for strength, as you’ll hear in the audio.” His camerawork appears to have had some effect.
Onlookers are reporting that large portions of Galveston’s Flagship Hotel are finding their way into the water below the 25th St. pier. The hotel’s owner, Landry’s Restaurants, is demolishing the building to make room for an amusement-park-style entertainment complex which you might reasonably assume won’t include any under-the pier attractions. The 225-room hotel closed permanently after Hurricane Ike.
Galveston real estate agent Billy Hill has posted an anonymous eyewitness account that a front-end loader operated by the Grant Mackay Demolition Co. pushed several portions of the building into the bay, including the section of framing that disappeared in the interval between these 2 photos:
First order of business for Tilman Fertitta, now that he’s finally succeeded in turning Landry’s Restaurants back into a private company under his control (the deal closes today): announcing the demolition of Galveston’s hobbled-on-a-pier Flagship Hotel. Actually, Landry’s officials jumped the gun slightly, showing plans for a large hotel-free amusement park on the 25th St. Pier site of the shuttered hotel to Galveston’s city council yesterday. In place of the Flagship — which was built a few years after Hurricane Carla hit the island in the early sixties — yep, you guessed it: There’s gonna be a Ferris wheel. Plus: a double-decker carousel and other attractions meant to vaguely resemble the amusement park originally on the pier when it was built in 1943.
Those rumors earlier this summer that Galveston’s Flagship Hotel would soon be sold to an unnamed buyer didn’t pan out. And now it looks like Landry’s Restaurants may also be backing away from its earlier backup plan to tear down the hotel and build a “pleasure pier” in its place. A Landry’s official tells the Galveston County Daily News‘s Laura Elder the company now plans to repair and reopen the hurricane-ravaged hulk-on-a-pier at 25th Street and Seawall Blvd.:
The city built the Flagship in 1965 as a show of confidence after Hurricane Carla struck the coast.
If Landry’s developed an entertainment complex, it would return the 25th Street pier to its roots. In 1943, the city built the Galveston Municipal Pleasure Pier.
At 1,130 feet long, the pier held a dance hall, a 2,000-seat open air arena, restaurants and concessions, according to the “Galveston Architecture Guidebook.”
Landry’s officials declined to divulge what their specific plans were.
The company is assessing the price of repairs, [Landry’s VP Steve] Greenberg said.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: GALVESTON OFFSHORE PLATFORM ECO-GAMBLING ESCAPES “. . . a ‘Santa Monica’ pier at The Flagship location would be golden, would be the DESTINATION for a lot of folks! But couldn’t there ALSO be an offshore gambling venue?? Imagine an elevator takes gamblers to a secret bullet-train in a tube, which whisks them to an oil derrick with gaming (no horse-racing, of course, haha!) The Island needs an injection of edgy intrigue since The Balinese is gone. Also, George Mitchell is another Player on Galveston; the gambling train could offer eco-tours to see Gulf habitat and thus receive some federal matching funds or something…” [movocelot, commenting on Roller Coaster on the Pier: Crunch Time for the Flagship Hotel]
There may be a buyer for Galveston’s Flagship Hotel, reports Laura Elder in the Galveston County Daily News. The hotel suffered about $7 million in damage from Hurricane Ike last year. But Landry’s Restaurants, the current owner, has a fallback plan in case the sale doesn’t go through:
If the 225-room property at 25th Street and Seawall Boulevard doesn’t sell, Landry’s likely would demolish the hotel and develop a “pleasure pier” with amusement rides, officials say. . . .
Landry’s is pricing demolition for the hotel, built in 1965 as a show of confidence after Hurricane Carla, Jeff Cantwell, senior vice president for development, said.
Perched on a pier overlooking the Gulf, the Flagship fell into disrepair on its own after 1990, when The Flagship Hotel Ltd. took over management.
Landry’s paid the city $500,000 for the hotel in 2004, saying it planned to spend $15 million transforming the property into an entertainment plaza with amusement rides, including a roller coaster.
Landry’s attempted to move ahead, but was stymied by agreements that gave Daniel Yeh, head of The Flagship Hotel Ltd., control of the hotel until 2031.