Galveston Bay Foundation breaks Ground on its Kemah Bayfront Campus

By: Press Release
| Published 10/29/2019

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Galveston Bay Foundation today hosted a groundbreaking celebration for its new campus, strategically located on a 30-acre bayfront site in Kemah, TX. The project will transform one of the last undeveloped bayfront properties of its size into an outstanding destination, where visitors of all ages can connect to the Bay and appreciate the benefits of a healthy bay system. Terri Gale, Mayor of Kemah, as well as other Kemah City Council members; major donors, including Andy and Barbara Gessner, Deborah Mueller with Hershey Foundation, and Nicole Cromartie with The Dan L Duncan Family Foundation; other supporters as well as Foundation’s board members and staff attended the event.

“We are thrilled to be moving to Kemah because we know that our new home on the Bay will allow us to leverage our success and showcase our mission to protect and preserve our community’s biggest natural resource – Galveston Bay,” said Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation President.

The current Galveston Bay Foundation office has no water access and is located far from the Bay. It also lacks meeting and education space for on-site programs, and its size and configuration limit growth. Kirksey’s innovative master plan for the new Galveston Bay Foundation campusin Kemah will be completed in phases. Phase 1 includes the land purchase, relocation of staff, and restoration of a “living shoreline” that will provide crucial habitat for fish and birds while protecting the site from erosion.

Phase 2 will focus on construction of the Gessner Center, a visionary new environmental education center designed to be net positive for energy and water use. Sustainable elements will include rainwater harvesting, natural storm water management, and use of appropriate building materials. The building is expected to meet the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building certification. Only 23 buildings around the world have earned this designation. The new Kemah facility will be the first office building in Texas to meet the Challenge.

Galveston Bay Foundation’s new headquarters will provide workspace for 30+ employees; classrooms, including a laboratory; meeting rooms; exhibit spaces; and more. Moreover, the new campus property will serve as a model for habitat restoration, conservation, and wetland preservation.

To raise $24.7 million needed to fund the master plan, Galveston Bay Foundation has launched a capital campaign co-chaired by Larry Neuhaus and Cynthia Pickett-Stevenson. The campaign hasraised $14.6 million to date, thanks to generous donations from many supporters, including leadership gifts from Andy and Barbara Gessner, The Dan L Duncan Family Foundation, Houston Endowment and the Foundation’s Board of Directors. A variety of donor recognition opportunities are still available. All donors making gifts of $25,000 or more will be recognized on a special donor wall.

“I am very grateful that so many generous donors have chosen to support this project because they share my strong commitment to the work that Galveston Bay Foundation is doing, preserving and enhancing the health of the Bay, while we still have time,” said Larry Neuhaus, Galveston Bay Foundation Board Director and Campaign Co-Chair. “After all, the health of the Bay is critical to everyone’s health in this region. What could be more important than that?”