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Oct 11, 2013 6:21 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

Houston Park Similar to Destination Bayfront Had a Key Advantage

CORPUS CHRISTI - Early voting begins in just over a week on a proposition asking voters to approve a $44 million bond proposition for Destination Bayfront.

So, we took a trip to Houston to look into the project's inspiration.

It's a 12 acre park called Discovery Green. It has everything from free events, to food, to places to just hang out.

It might be nice to have something like this in Corpus Christi, but Houston had something Corpus Christi has struggled to get, lots of private money.

Park Director Barry Mandel says there was tons of private money right from the beginning.

"We had the heads of the four major foundations, the four major philanthropic foundations here in town that came to the table, and literally in one meeting, went around and said how much are you in for? How much are you in for? How much are you in for? And there you had the seed money for the whole project," Mandel says.

Seed money in the form of nearly $60 million.

The city of Houston donated the land the park sits on, and gave control of it to the Discovery Green Conservancy. A group that runs it, operates it, and raises the money for their $4 million annual budget.

"The biggest accomplishment of this park is what this 12 acres has done for economic development of this entire part of downtown," Mandel says.

In the five years since the park was built, there's been over $625 million dollars in economic development that's sprung up all around it. Hotels, business offices, and high rise apartment complexes.

And that is what Corpus Christi would hope to see with Destination Bayfront. Lots of economic development that comes with the park.

And while taxpayers here would have to bare the majority of the $58 million project, the bright side is they wouldn't have to pay to maintain it.

"What we're doing here is we have a public private match on construction, but the private match goes into an endowment to pay for the maintenance long term," City Councilman David Loeb says.

Loeb added that if the city doesn't raise the $15 million minimum private money to go towards maintenance, the bonds wouldn't get issued and the park wouldn't be built at all.

So, the question becomes is nearly $58 million, mostly funded by you at home, worth it for Destination Bayfront and the development it could bring?

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