Figuring out what to do about vacant downtown buildings is hardly a new problem, but it is a problem most people want something done about.
“I would just love to see more life Downtown, all around,” said Pamela Dykehouse, Senior Pastor with First United Methodist Church. “Vacant buildings are a sign to folks that there is not life downtown.”
Downtown is part of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) # 3. Tuesday the TIRZ board recommended the city council approve its new vacant building ordinance.
“We’re excited the city is considering this ordinance,” said Alyssa Barrera, Executive Director of the Downtown Management District. “We’ve heard from the community this is a big concern for them, so we’re happy to be able to move forward.”
According to Barrera, vacant downtown buildings are hot properties.
“We get calls regularly about new businesses interested in coming downtown,” said Barrera.
If approved, the ordinance gives owners 45 days to register vacant properties. Once registered, those properties will be added to an online database , helping match the properties with potential buyers.
“It is in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission,” said Barrera. “A lot of communities are already on this website, so we’re excited to have Corpus Christi added.”
The ordinance also calls for periodic inspections of vacant buildings. Any owners found violating the ordinance would be subject to fines of up to $500 per day.
Other efforts to fill vacant buildings have met mixed results, but residents hope new businesses make their way downtown.
“The more we can do to make downtown a more welcoming, a more central place in our city people want to be, the better it is for the entire community,” said Dykehouse.“
The TIRZ board unanimously approved recommending the ordinance to the city council. According to Mayor Joe McComb, the council should hear a first reading by the end of May.