The City Council gave the okay last week to a Downtown Area Development Plan that has been in the works for years.
It lays out ideas on how to encourage growth and connect visitors and business owners with that part of the city. The plan also promotes living in downtown Corpus Christi.
A recent market study showed that people are interested in living in the downtown area, and this plan takes that into account, following the famous movie line, "If you build it, they will come." The idea is that more downtown housing, will lead to more downtown development.
The city pictures a lot of potential for downtown neighborhoods. The Downtown Area Development plan features picturesque renderings of plans for the Marina Arts District, Bayshore Neighborhood, Uptown, SEA District, Washington-Coles, Hillcrest, and North Beach.
"This is kind of a long range-plan, kind of a 20 year horizon," Daniel McGinn, Director of Planning for the City of Corpus Christi, said.
The ideas laid out on paper and approved by the City Council last week have a crucial linchpin: a focus on residential housing.
"It’s a market driven kind of approach. Folks are interested in living down there," McGinn said.
That according to a market study which found potential to fill for more 1,850 apartments and townhomes around downtown in the next five to seven years.
"Right now we’re focusing on trying to get people living down there, which then would drive you know a better market for entertainment, commercial type venues," McGinn said.
The plan also lays out quality of life ideas for those future downtown residents. Those include more green spaces and parks, biker and pedestrian-friendly areas, retail and commercial development, and easy access to arts, entertainment, and attractions.
The city’s Planning Department is banking on a very different looking downtown once the new Harbor Bridge is in place.
"Connecting the neighborhoods. The harbor bridge, the relocation is going to allow for some those neighborhoods, you know, better connectivity," McGinn said.
Approval of this plan comes at the same time the city faces and estimated $20 million budget shortfall. However, funds for downtown redevelopment come from TIRZ funding or bond projects, and they are from a different pot than city departments or public safety.
"Strictly for different public improvements of incentives for maybe residential development. There’s kind of a limited scope on what those funds could be used for," McGinn said.
Business owners already invested in downtown are glad to see the City Council approve concepts aimed to draw more people.
"A rising tide lifts all ships," Christian Bernard, owner of Urbana, said. "So I think the more people that come downtown is a great thing. I don’t see it as competition. I see it as a necessity."
The City Council will soon also look at the TIRZ Traffic and Planning Analysis, which proposes more parking plans, and converting some downtown one-way streets into two-ways. Chaparral is one street already to set to be converted to a two-way, once repairs on the street have wrapped up.