Council approves North Beach TIRZ, turns attention to drainage

Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-29 19:49:28-04

CORPUS CHRISTI — The city council has given preliminary approval to the North Beach Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, but it's a little different from what was originally proposed.

The TIRZ initially would have partially funded a variety of projects, but before voting on the TIRZ, the city council approved an amendment to narrow the scope to three broad categories; incentives for development, improving infrastructure and keeping it maintained. The TIRZ still must pass a second vote.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda was a presentation on solving the drainage issues on North Beach. Chip Urban with Urban Engineering laid out three options for the city, though none were cheap nor a quick fix.

The solution to North Beach drainage issues is two-fold. One, find a better way to get the water out; and two, raise properties to about 11 feet above sea level.

“We've got to get the streets up above high-tide elevation,” said Urban. “If we don't do that, you'll never solve the problem.”

Option one is a closed conduit system, a series of concrete boxes; but according to Urban, this option is least attractive.

“Those boxes are expensive,” said Urban. “They're lots of concrete, reinforcing; you've got to haul them in, you've got to put them together. “Option number one, we provided it, but it's one we knew early on was probably not going to be the most cost effective.”

Option two is an open ditch while option three is a navigable channel, or canal. Option one would cost the city more than $82 million, option two costs $36 million, and option three $41 million. That's on top of $32 million to raise the elevation.

“Do we want to improve North Beach? I believe we all do; everybody on the council does, the community does,” said City Manager Peter Zanoni. “What we have to figure out going forward is how do we do North Beach and as well, maintain the rest of the city?”

Developer Jeff Blackard wants to make the canal the centerpiece of a Riverwalk-style attraction for North Beach, but this report didn't address future development.

“We didn't attempt to address the economic impact of one versus the other, we just offered the two most plausible solutions,” said Urban.

According to Zanoni, the next steps include getting public opinion because city leaders want to know which option the public prefers. There's no word on when a final recommendation is due.

City staff will also look at how the city would fund North Beach drainage improvements. Those could include things like bonds or grants.