It was supposed to be the center piece for revitalization of downtown Corpus Christi, but four years after construction began, The Cosmopolitan still sits empty.
The luxury apartment complex is located in the heart of downtown at Chaparral and Lawrence Streets. The ownership group most recently said tenants could begin moving in on April 1st of this year. However, that was just one of multiple promised grand opening dates that never happened.
A check of the KRIS 6 News archives found we were first told by developers that The Cosmopolitan would be open in June of 2015, more than two years ago now.
"We offer a host of property amenities, such as a resort style pool, with a resident operated swim up bar and cabanas," a voice message for The Cosmopolitan states. A website features colorful artist renderings that depict a selection of floor plans, and a street level state-of-the-art fitness center and retail shops. Marketing encourages Corpus Christi residents to "Live, Work, Play" and "Live downtown for real."
The much-talked about apartment complex promises luxury and downtown revitalization. But despite the marketing and repeated claims that The Cosmopolitan is "opening soon" to tenants, that is one promise developers have not been able to keep.
"It is a huge letdown," said former downtown business owner Matt Scott.
The Corpus Christi native lobbied for The Cosmopolitan back in 2012.
"I remember going to City Council meetings in support of it," he said. "It just completely backfired."
Hoping the new housing development would breathe life into downtown, Scott says it did the opposite for his nightclub, Aria. The club was across the street from The Cosmopolitan. Scott says ongoing project construction that shut down Lawrence Street, combined with city street repairs on Chaparral, delivered a drastic blow to his business.
"The customers couldn't reach our business," he said. "The streets were completely shut down, you couldn't even get close. It ended up putting us out of business."
Current downtown business owners say they are doing fine financially without The Cosmopolitan, but they are nonetheless eager for it to open.
"I think a lot of people feel like it's never going to happen because of how long the delay has been, but it's just going to be a matter of time before people start moving in there," said Christian Bernard, owner of Urbana.
"I'm glad to see the city kind of backing them, putting some pressure but at the same time giving them a chance to open," added Stephen McMains, Downtown Crossfit owner. "Because I think it is important for them to get open, rather than just giving up on the project."
The delayed grand opening comes after the $23 million project was plagued by financial and legal struggles last year. The nearby Sea Gulf Villa Apartments filed a lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan in December of 2016, claiming demolition work led to the collapse of a brick veneer on three different floors of its building.
Construction also stalled in March of last year, when the rising cost of construction and other factors left The Cosmopolitan short on cash to pay its contractors. Eight liens on the property were filed at the Nueces County Courthouse by unpaid contractors.
An email currently being sent out to interested renters once again promises an opening date by the end of the month.
"You are getting in touch with us at a great time, as we anticipate having units available for tours in the upcoming weeks, and currently have move in reservation dates Late August and September," the email reads.
"It's very frustrating, but we are very close," said City Councilwoman Carolyn Vaughn, who represents District 1 which includes the downtown area.
Vaughn recently got an update on the project from the developers.
"They were given a list of things they need to do for inspections," she said. "Some of the things they have completed, some things they still need to do. But it's very difficult right now when you're towards the end, trying to get contractors in there."
But hope has faded away for Scott, who moved from his hometown to Austin, leaving his nightclub Aria, now vacant and shuttered.
"I don't know if Cosmopolitan lofts has been held accountable tax-wise," he said. "Myself and a few other business owners around downtown had invested in downtown thinking that we would have customers living across the street, and downtown revitalization, and we just haven't seen it."
For the last several months, The Cosmopolitan developers have been paying the city to keep one lane of Lawrence Street closed down for construction. Developers had no comment on when the complex would be open. They did say the leasing office is open and they are currently pre-leasing units. Our last report shows 27 of the 165 units have been pre-leased.
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