PORT ARANSAS – A group of urban planning experts is paying Port Aransas a visit this week.
They’ve come to the Coastal Bend to recommend ways to make the tourist spot even more of a destination as the city rebuilds after Hurricane Harvey.
For the next few days, members of the Urban Land Institute will meet with Port Aransas residents and business owners to get an idea of their vision for the future of their city.
Port A officials welcomed the panel with a reception Monday evening.
For 70 years, the ULI has helped cities around the world solve problems which prevent growth. This week the ULI brought a panel of experts in land use, design, city government, and residential development. The panel will tour the city Tuesday and Wednesday, discuss their findings Thursday before presenting city leaders with recommendations Friday.
“You’re bringing multi-disciplines into this process,” said ULI residential design specialist Rich Dishnica. “There’s not very many places that I’ve heard that bring a multi-disciple approach to analysis. From that perspective, I think the community will benefit immensely.”
Among the ULI’s focuses this week is finding a solution for the lack of affordable housing in Port Aransas.
Many affordable options in the city were lost to Harvey. That means many resorts and businesses are short employees who can’t afford the commute.
“They’re going to give us some ideas on how we can approach that and hopefully overcome it,” said Jeffrey Hentz, President/CEO of the Port Aransas/Mustang Island Chamber of Commerce. “So, next summer, when we’re out bringing a lot of new employees to work for our businesses in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we have more housing options for them so they can work and live in Port A.”
City officials will also brief the panel on a proposed hotel and convention center. Also on the ULI’s to-do list is finding ways to enhance the city’s main streets from a branding point of view.