The city’s decision to build a bridge on North Padre Island could change with the sale of the Schlitterbahn waterpark.
A small section of that land includes spot where the city wants the owner to build a canal, but with that ownership in limbo it’s uncertain what will happen with the bridge project. At stake is a $11.7 million construction contract. Twice the city has asked the construction company to extend that bid, said Keith Selman, Assistant City Manager. That bid expires in less than a month. If the city does not receive another extension. The project will have to be re-bid, and could be redesigned.
“The contract for the bridge will be expiring in the next month, so we need to know quickly what's going to happen,” said Councilman Greg Smith, in an interview last week.
City Hall leadership is adamant that the bridge cannot be built without a commitment from the private landowners to build a canal on the west side of Park Road 22.
"The canals are key,” Selman said. “We don't want to build a bridge to nowhere.”
With the bridge project unresolved, island developers in the Lake Padre area have sidelined their projects.
“We're sitting here on a 4.5 acre development that is roughly 54 town homes,” said developer Alex Harris. “We have the plat approved. We are ready to start. We are waiting for some answers. We want to know: Is that bridge going to get built?"
It’s likely a decision in the waterpark foreclosure case could come Tuesday.
A public auction set to happen between noon and 3 p.m. is still scheduled to happen, said Michael Colvard, an attorney representing IBC. Although, there is still time to reach an agreement with the park owners, no final decision has been made by the bank about whether to postpone or cancel the auction, he said.
Voters first approved the idea of an island bridge in 2004. Back then, the plan was simple: create a water exchange to improve water quality. The design and scope grew much larger once Schlitterbahn announced its plans for the island.
The latest design of the bridge will give people a way to traverse the island by boat and foot in an area, which currently is bisected by a four-lane highway.
“It's the driving piece with Schlitterbahn that's going to make us pull the trigger and build this project," Harris said.
6 Investigates first broke the news last week that the Corpus Christi waterpark and hotel properties are for sale after a bank foreclosed on the land. That land is tied to the city bridge project and a $117 million public-private incentive agreement that includes more than 500 acres. City leaders signed the agreement years ago when Schlitterbahn promised to build the waterpark and develop the surrounding properties.
The land foreclosure comes after years of ongoing financial problems with the owners of the water park – a group called Upper Padre Partners. Those problems are now part of a bankruptcy case.
Upper Padre Partners recently defaulted on payments for about $30 million in loans with lender International Bank of Commerce. The bank filed a foreclosure notice on Jan. 16, according to a listing on file with the Nueces County Clerk’s Office.
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