Jul 3, 2014 10:07 PM by Bart Bedsole - email@example.com
CORPUS CHRISTI - A project to transform the old Pharaoh Valley Country Club moved a step forward this week, gaining approval from the Planning Commission.
There are still a few indicators that the property used to be a country club, like a ball washer near an overgrown tee box, and a tennis court that has lost a few nets.
The golf course itself is overgrown, the clubhouse is gone, and vandals continue to leave their mark in the form of graffiti and even a fire at a tennis court building last year.
It's scary, and sad, and very worrisome," said longtime Pharaoh Valley resident Christine Kuehn.
But after years of frustration, neighbors think they have finally hit a hole in one with the arrival of Blackard Global, and its "Barisi" project.
The Barisi would turn the abandoned club into a European village style multi-use development, with homes and shops surrounding a manmade lake.
"We're looking at Blackard Global coming in a very positive way. We're very hopeful for it," says John Hardie, who also lives nearby.
The Barisi is the latest of several proposals for the area to surface in the last few years, but it's the first that appears to have the support of the majority of residents.
City officials recently mailed out notices of a pending rezoning request to the 211 closest property owners.
8 submitted a written response to the notice, saying they oppose the plan.
24 submitted a written response, saying they support the plan.
This week, the Planning Commission approved a "planned unit development" for the property.
That doesn't change the zoning from its current single family residential status, but it does allow specific exceptions for parts of the property under certain conditions.
The city council will vote on the request later this month, and it is expected to pass.
"You gotta have 5 votes, and I haven't talked to 4 others, but I think that this is something corpus christi really wants, and really needs in our community," says District 4 City Councilwoman Colleen McIntyre.
"This man wants to come into our community and spend millions of dollars and he is asking nothing from us. Nothing," says Kuehn.
Hardie adds, "It doesn't feel like development for its own sake. It feels like a real special gift."
Along with final city council approval, a judge will also have to overturn the deed restriction on the property in order for the Barisi to move forward.
The current deed restriction requires the property to be used only for a golf course and country club.
Residents are confident that they will prove in court that they have the necessary support to overturn the deed restriction, but they are also unsure of exactly how much support is needed to do that.
That court hearing is expected sometime at the end of 2014.
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