MANVEL, Texas -- A more than 60,000 square foot, $3.5 million mansion that’s sat vacant since 2001 could soon help treat veterans.
The home on County Road 59 in Manvel has never been occupied or even completed. Now one veteran is working to re-purpose the home to provide shelter, aid programs, classes and counseling for other veterans.
After nine years in the U.S. Navy, working with heavy machinery as part of their Construction Battalion, Christa Mode is used to doing heavy lifting. But renovating the mansion is more than just a labor of love. It’s her calling.
“I really feel led to do this,” Mode said. “I don’t want another female to feel the way I felt when I came back home.”
After providing convoy security in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mode says coming back home was anything but easy. The single mother of three boys, now ages 23, 21 and 16, says she struggled to find adequate help for her post-traumatic stress disorder and debilitating injuries.
“I figured, ‘You know what? If nobody has a solution, I’m gonna make one,'" she said.
The inspiration came in summer 2016 when her cousin jokingly sent her an online listing for the Manvel mansion while Mode was still living in Oregon.
“He’s like, ‘Hey, cousin, here’s your next ranch house: $3.6 million,’” recalls Mode, laughing. “And I’m like, ‘Right.’"
But then Mode says she saw potential: a large space with as many as 70 rooms that could serve as a one-stop-shop where any veteran could get shelter, counseling, classes and other help through an 8- to 10-week program specifically tailored to them.
She called the Houston-based co-owner of the property, Jim Youngblood, also the Chief Financial Officer at Renter’s Warehouse.
“I get tire-kickers calling every day for the facility, because everybody has these grand ideas, but they don’t really have the financing to back it up,” Youngblood said. “My partner and I think she has a good idea, a good plan, and it’s a service that’s needed her in Houston.”
Several conversations later, Mode sold her possessions and moved to the Houston area from Oregon with her boys in January.
Mode eventually agreed to rent the space from Youngblood, which she’s named the Bailey House Veteran Facility, named after James Stewart’s character, George Bailey, in the classic film "It’s a Wonderful Life."
Specifically, Mode says she was inspired by how another character, Mary, turns an old house in disrepair into a beautiful home.
“There was a lot of hope there,” she said.
Both Mode and Youngblood say the project is still in the early phases. The property still needs to be re-zoned from “single family residential” to “light commercial” by the City of Manvel, which Youngblood estimates could take 30 to 45 days. Mode is also in the middle of obtaining 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
However, the Bailey House Veteran Facility has generated a great deal of attention and support in recent days after a woman who visited the property Saturday posted about her experience on a neighborhood Facebook page.
“Literally overnight, we went from like 290 likes to over 3500 likes,” Mode said.
“It’s been crazy,” Youngblood said. “I’ve had dozens of phone calls from friends and family asking if we’ve sold the property.”
Mode is asking anyone who’d like to help to come by the property and help her clean out debris and clean up what Youngblood estimates is “hundreds of thousands of dollars” worth of vandalism. She says just look for the open gate and her red Dodge Charger, but avoid the property if the front gate is closed.
A meet and greet will be held on the property, located at 2354 County Road 59 in Manvel, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit the Bailey House Veteran Facility’s Facebook page.