Local News

Aug 18, 2014 10:38 PM by Bart Bedsole - bbedsole@kristv.com

Planners Present Vision For Area After Harbor Bridge Demolition

CORPUS CHRISTI - The pending construction of a new bridge over the ship channel raises an important question.

What happens when the old one comes down?

Area leaders recently applied for something called a Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT) through the American Institute of Architects.

Communities often request a R/UDAT when faced with a long term planning challenge, whether in response to a disaster or a major event happening in their areas, such as the demolition of an iconic bridge.

Through the R/UDAT, a prestigous group of planners came to Corpus Christ for four days to survey the area, talk to stakeholders, and come up with a detailed vision for that area...

The team noted that while the existing Harbor Bridge was built as a means to connect the north and south sides of the ship channels, it ultimately disconnected neighborhoods in the downtown and port areas.

Some of those areas are still recovering from it.

The team of architects, engineers, and designers told city and county leaders this week that the demolition of the bridge might just help to restore some of the broken bonds.

Their vision involves a cohesive collection of retail, residential, and commercial properties that compliment each other and maximize the city's most valuable asset, the waterfront.

Team member Joel Mills said, "The thing that came across so clearly from every participant in the process was the value, the civic value, of your waterfront. Every citizen, every resident, every stakeholder recognizes the tremendous beauty of that waterfront."

The challenge is getting both the public and private sectors to work together, not have one sector relying on the other to promote progress independently.

The hope is that this independent analysis and vision that has worked for so many other cities will be a roadmap that everyone supports and works to create here.

"If you look at the success of R/UDAT in other cities and how they have played a very instrumental role in planning and creating a vision for the community, I don't see why if it worked in other cities it can't work for Corpus Christi," said former mayor Joe Adame, who was among the committee that invited the team.

The overall Monday night was simple... the Harbor Bridge defined Corpus Christi when it was built, and it will redefine the city when it comes down.

To view the full report, click here: http://www.aia.org/about/initiatives/AIAS075375

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