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6 Investigates: City land being leased for $1 to private developer

Posted: 6:29 PM, Apr 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-27 14:00:18-04

At the edge of the city limits next to the recently extended Crosstown Expressway, Corpus Christi taxpayers own about 300 acres along the Oso Creek.

The land is valued at $4.1 million, according to the most recent records on file with the Nueces County Appraisal District. And it’s not far from one of the area’s fastest growing school districts: London ISD.

But for the past 18 months, the city has leased about 68 of those acres for $1 per year based on a promise by a San Antonio developer called SQH Sports to build a multi-million dollar regional sports complex.

"This is a quality of life project that is going to bring more than we can place value on," said At-Large Councilwoman Paulette Guajardo, at a recent City Council meeting about the project.

SQH Sports recently asked the City Council for new contract to lease 203 acres for the same price.

“We have to deal with wetlands,” Quintanilla told council members on April 17. “We have to deal with floodways, so it’s going to be a significant issue."

This would be the third time the council has voted on the project since 2016. Last summer, the council voted to extend several project deadlines to allow the developers more time.

And now the developers have asked for a new lease agreement, so they can build an expanded version of what was first proposed.  

“That’s not enough (land) for this project to move forward," Quintanilla explained during the April 17th meeting.

In return, the council voted 7 to1 in support of that lease. The vote happened on April 17. The lone vote against the deal was At-Large Councilwoman Debbie Lindsey-Opel.

"The project itself is awesome,” she said during a recent interview. “My job is to protect the citizens and be a good steward of our assets and when I look at the deal. I don’t think the deal is the best deal for our city."

A second vote on the lease is required to finalize the deal, and expected to take place on May 22.

In recent weeks, KRIS 6 Investigates looked at the developers’ background, and found no record that the three people involved have any experience building sports complexes.

Here is what we know about the company:

SQH Sports and Entertainment is a newly created company formed in 2014 by Brent A. Statzer and Derrick A. Hegmon, out of San Antonio. Local businessman Humberto “Bert” Quintanilla also is listed with the company.

The team members are described on the company’s website to have “expertise in building and managing sports complexes in San Antonio, including a soccer complex attracting 400,000 visitors annually.”

Statzer, Hegmon and Quintanilla did not return phone calls from KRIS 6 News. Instead, Fran Stephenson who identified herself as the company’s public relations person returned a call.

When asked for the names of the sports complexes referenced on the website, Stephenson explained that the three developers involved with the company don’t have that expertise but a consultant who agreed to be on the team does. Stephenson did not provide a name for that consultant, and described SQH Sports in its early phases until the most recent deal with the city was approved.

Statzer and Hegmon run a marketing consulting firm called Promotional Management Group or PMG Retail, based in San Antonio. Details about the company’s current clients and past projects on the website are vague, and an address listed on the website led to a non-descript building on the northwest side of San Antonio. There was no sign outside the office that indicated the type of business in operation at that location, and no one answered the door.

In 2012, Bank of America sued PMG and Statzer for an outstanding loan balance of more than $234,000. The money was paid back in 2016, and in accordance with a judgment in that case, Bexar County District Court records showed.

Quintanilla is listed on the company website to have vast business management experience. Public records showed he has opened and closed several businesses over the years, based in Corpus Christi. He also has several pending tax liens with the IRS, according to records on file with the Nueces County Clerk’s Office.