Developer's work downtown hailed
The development team of Zane Anderson and Michael Schaefer was honored Tuesday with the fifth Mayor's Downtown Impact Award in recognition of their work to restore the Charles Hotel and the Howell Building.
The duo has invested millions in downtown Bryan buildings over the past three years of their partnership, including renovating the old blue Kraft Building into the Anderson Schaefer Building, where their offices are housed.
The two men may be better known this year for renovating the Charles Hotel, turning the long-abandoned building from a pigeon roost into popular exposed-brick loft apartments that havve attracted college students, professors, families, and young downtown workers.
A country cooking-style restaurant is planned to open on the Charles'' bottom floor this spring.
Anderson and Schaefer also have turned their resources across Main Street to the long-vacant Howell Building, which is scheduled by mid-2005 "to become office space for attorneys and financial consultants.
Doe's Eat Pace will fill the first floor of the now bright and airy building that was once, like the Charles, covered with cement that hid the original facade.
Anderson, 32, and Schaefer, 39, were chosen unanimously for the mayor's award by a selection committee based on more than a half-dozen nominations. The award has been presented each December since 2000 to individuals who focus on returning downtown to prominence.
"These are two young men who've made a tremendous impact downtown with their talent, their time and their resources," Mayor Ernie Wentrcek said. "They've been good cheerleaders for downtown, as well."
As part of the award, First National Bank donated $500 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Brazos Valley
Schaefer praised the resolve of Bryan officials for seeing through renovations to the LaSalle Hotel and the $1.3 million rehabilitation of Main Street. The improvements gave dopwntown a new streetscape and a historic inn for business travelers and visitors, as well as the impetus for continued revitalization.
Schaefer told Wentrcek as he accepted the award Tuesday night that it would have been hard for him and Anderson to commit their time and investment to restoring so many downtown structures without the city's efforts.
"If you look down the road another three to five years, you can see the businesses coming in and the growth that's still coming because of [the city]," he said.
The two call themselves "lone rangers in the early revitalization efforts downtown. Anderson also is known for his work independent of the partnership, which will include adding loft apartments to the old Bryan Hotel. He owns six buildings, and the partnership oversees another four all downtown.
"We took a big risk three years ago when we first came down here," Anderson said Tuesday. "Now, everybody's on the bandwagon, and that's exactly what we wanted to see. We want competition downtown."By Sommer Hamilton Eagle Staff Writer ©The Eagle, October, 2004