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The City Council received input from the public regarding the proposed North Beach canal. Many urged the council to move forward with the project.

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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a developer defaulting on the initial agreement, a $40 million upscale hotel and apartment complex is still planned for Corpus Christi’s North Beach.

The Corpus Christi Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #4 board members voted to allow City Manager Peter Zanoni to extend the TIRZ agreement deadline for the hotel. 

The hotel’s developer, Jeff Blackard, of McKinney, originally defaulted on the agreement, which had a deadline to begin construction by June 2. 

The new deadline to start building is Jan. 31, 2024. The deadline for construction completion is July 31, 2026. 

This deadline was determined to avoid obstacles that could be caused by the pandemic. The Corpus Christi – Nueces County Public Health District helped figure out the date, Zanoni said. 

Blackard told the Caller-Times during an interview, “that’s fine.”

“We just don’t want to spend all this money and not have the (city) not fix the drainage problem on North Beach,” he said. “We’ll know by next year if they’re going to build the canal or not.”

Blackard is developing the hotel with Lynn Frazier, a North Beach resident who would own a majority of the development. 

The TIRZ agreement will give up to $7.8 million in reimbursements to Blackard and Frazier.

The proposed hotel, a Marriott, would be called The Frazier and be six floors with about 200 rooms. The hotel would face the beach at Breaker Avenue and Surfside Boulevard. About 180 multifamily apartments would be attached.

The canal 

Blackard had wanted the city to approve an extension that would allow him to build the hotel after the city breaks ground on a $41 million proposed navigable canal on North Beach.  

That created legal issues because it would have ultimately given no timeline for the agreement, city attorneys determined.

In June, the City Council awarded more than $500,000 from stormwater capital funds — backed by residents’ water charges — to determine if the proposed canal would actually solve North Beach’s long-standing drainage and flooding problems. 

Houston-based Lockwood, Andrews & Newman is expected to finish figuring out the project by the end of this year. If the company determines the canal will help solve drainage problems in the neighborhood, the next step would be to design the project. 

The canal will have to be designed to determine how much it really costs, Zanoni said. The project has an initial estimated construction cost of more than $41 million. Design is generally about 10 percent of the construction costs.

The city has not identified funding sources to cover all design costs of the canal, let alone construction, Zanoni said.

Blackard says the proposed navigable canal “is an integral part of the design” for the hotel as the canal would be directly in front of the development. 

The hotel would be in a flood zone, so certain design parameters have to be followed. Blackard said he and Frazier need to know how much the road in front of the development will be elevated to meet the minimum requirement for the floor height of 13 feet to 14 feet.

North Beach TIRZ

The city established the TIRZ for North Beach in November 2019.

The tax increment reinvestment zone focuses on beautification of the neighborhood and allows the city to offer incentives to encourage other developments, including parking structures, hotels, apartments and entertainment venues.

The zone will last up to 20 years, with $40 million in reinvestment from the city, the Del Mar College district and the county. It will cover 410 land parcels that span roughly 1,400 acres. 

The TIRZ will not create a new tax. Instead, it will redirect a portion of property tax revenue from future growth inside the zone to pay for public improvements.

The Light House 

Blackard and Frazier are also developing a $24 million project on the very north end of North Beach. Designs for The Light House, based on a rugged seaport village, will have about 140 apartment units and feature a 164-foot lighthouse. 

The Light House will still be developed, regardless of whether a North Beach canal is built. Construction has already started, Blackard said.

Kathryn Cargo follows business openings and developments while reporting on impacts of the city government’s decisions. See our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe  

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