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.


Landry’s succeeded in wresting the lease agreement from Yeh — but only after a legal tussle last year that had the two parties switching sides. After Hurricane Ike, Landry’s wanted Yeh’s management company to hold onto its lease, but Yeh wanted out.

Yeh, who suffered a brain tumor and was declared at one point incompetent to stand trial, is now serving a 30-month sentence in federal prison. He pled guilty in 2007 to defrauding FEMA’s Short Term Housing Program after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Photos: Ellen Yeates

18 Comment

  • Tillman should demolish the hotel, extend the pier southward into international waters, and build the Golden Nugget Outer-Continental Shelf Resort and Casino. Just bypass the state bureaucracy all together. A sign of optimism, indeed.

  • Oh no. Please god no. No. No. No. No. Not Fertitta. Please he’s ruined enough around these parts. No more fried food, no more coasters, no more ferris wheels. GO AWAY TILLMAN FERTITTA!

  • Tillman should build a long long pier and walk off of it.

  • This is going to fun to watch.

    The Moody family has fought Fertita on this for many years.

    I wonder how the city coucil members and mayor will act when going against the Moody’s?

  • kjb434,

    Let’s hope the Moody’s can fight the evil they now face.

  • Hard to know who to root for (or against) here!

  • In this case LoWest, I’m pulling for Fertita.

    Galveston needs something like this to boost it’s revenues. If Fertita is willing to spend the capital to construct something similar to the Santa Monica Pier, then I’m for it.

    I would prefer a couple large casinos instead since that is a proven revenue booster. Since the majority of gamblers in Lake Charles, Kinder, Shreveport, Marksville, and the Oklahoma Casinos are Texans; Galveston can recapture some of that market.

    The problem with casinos is that our state politicians are lining their pockets with money from out of state casino interests to not allow gambling. Don’t believe the scapegoat that the religious have any influence on stopping gambling. It’s simply not true. It it was, Lousiana and Mississippi would not have gambling.

  • Hey kjb434,
    I agree that Galveston needs help but if Fertitta is their saviour, lord help us all.

  • I know, I know. If you play with the devil….

    But, an amusement park pier concept is right up Fertita’s alley. I rather him make his major foray in Galveston development on a pier stuck out in the Gulf of Mexico versus along Broadway or in the Strand.

    It would be a touristy style development right where the touristy crowds go.

  • I agree fully with kjb434 that 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…

  • No matter whoever develops this, I think a “pleasure pier” in Galveston would be fantastic. If you look at old postcards of Galveston, you’ll see that there used to be an amusement park on the beach at one point or another.

    As for a casino…I’m iffy about that. People often think that casinos will automatically bring in money, but that’s not always the case. Just ask residents of Central City, Colorado which was basically ruined when gambling was legalized there.

  • I am also not on the gambling bandwagon. I’m not some holy roller hell-bent against gambling, but gambling attracts the organized crime elements of society. We, and Galveston need that like a hole in the head. There are all kinds of legitimate ways to make money without attracting organized crime.

  • Ok,

    While Galveston works on its slow comeback, thousands of central and southeast Texans will go every weekend throughout the year to south Louisiana. Add to that thousands of nort Texans go to Oklahoma and north Louisiana every weekend. All of that is the draw of gambling.

    It’s just a lot of money that I see leaving Texas and going to another state.

  • I hear ya, but it’s like sleeping with the devil. Sooner or later it’ll come back to bite you in the nether regions. And, with organized crime, it’s never just a slight one time nibble.

  • I still don’t see the organized crime being a problem. We already have that here.

    I’m looking at how the casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast along with the citizens that weren’t looking for a government handout after Katrina turned these cities around. And it happened quickly. The people of New Orleans hated when they were asked why is Mississppi coming along much faster than New Orleans in reconstruction.

  • ORGANIZED crime you already HAVE crooked polotician that care of that if you dont gamble thats fine you dont have to.CASINOS WILL BRING JOBS AND GENERRATE MONEY IN GALVESTON ECONOMY. The pier needs to be built thanks to god that we have landrys in texas. AS for the MOODY FAMILY THEY HAVENT DONE MUCH FOR GALVESTONE.