The many historical buildings that dot downtown Brownsville are coming back to life as investments in the city’s heritage.
It makes business sense. Youthful investors are transforming old buildings in the city’s core, giving them makeovers, and turning them into restaurants, art studios and cafes. In one case, it’s stylish new lofts.
Botica Lofts is gleaming new and on the corner of 11th Street and Adams in downtown Brownsville. It’s a 1920s-era building that once housed a pharmacy on its bottom floor, giving the new lofts their name. The 100-year-old building is recast with brand-new apartments on its second and third floors.
The living spaces at the Brownsville lofts range in size from 516 to 752 square feet, and come in one- and two-bedroom units. Within view from its upper floors is Market Square, the over 100-year-old iconic center space of Brownsville. A two-minute walk away is the mother church of the Diocese of Brownsville, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. The UT-Rio Grande Valley campus in the city is a 15-minute walk from the lofts.
Adding To A City’s History
The quick access to the best of downtown Brownsville and adjacent areas is a marketable selling point by Origo Works, the developers and owners of the Botica Lofts.
“The idea is to add to the history of Brownsville,” said Cesar Villarreal, director of Origo’s development, sales and leasing. “Living here brings you within walking distance of dining, the university and all the historic elements.”
Making the stairway climb to the new apartments, Villarreal describes their design as being contemporary industrial and minimalist. It’s the sort of chic urban look that’s attracting millennials and young professionals to similar downtown lofts across the country.
“We’re trying to respect the history of the building as much as we can,” Villarreal said. “We have a beautiful infrastructure here in Brownsville with so much history. All we want to do is beautify it.”
There are six apartment units at Botica Lofts. Its first residents moved into their new apartments in mid-January. Villarreal said Botica’s tenants will include professionals, federal employees, students and teachers. The rents run from $750 to $950 per month.
Villarreal described Botica Lofts as being part of the “progressive business models” being seen in downtown Brownsville. Signs hang in front of many downtown buildings speaking to the city government’s willingness to help local entrepreneurs with some essential start-up costs. A city that long touted its historical standing among Valley cities is finally making good on that asset.
“We all have a part to play,” Villarreal said. “The idea is to add to the history of the city. We want to help create a better Brownsville for everyone.”