Nueces County Commissioners officially rejected a bid from the Ed Rachal foundation Wednesday, to buy the 1914 County Courthouse.
Had the sale been approved, the foundation intended to demolish the old building. But the county is not allowed to tear it down under the terms of an agreement with the Texas Historical Commission. That covenant expires in 2027. Before that, the covenant can only be removed by the historical commission, or the state legislature.
This is the second deal to fall through for the building since August, but thanks to new incentives, county officials hold out hope for the dilapidated property.
So what’s next? The state historical commission has a solution.
“Now that they know the interest is geared towards hotels, they would like to offer their services
to put forth a feasibility study in a more modern-day, 2019 approach,” said Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales.
Last year, the county had a deal to turn the courthouse into a hotel. That deal fell through because the developer never paid more than $1.5 million in back property taxes. Any new developer still has to pay the back taxes, which are now more than $1.65 million. That’s on top of the millions of dollars of needed repairs. But the county has a plan to help.
“The dollars that are available through the tax credits could be a tremendous offset for anybody’s capital investment here,” said Canales.
Money is available from city, state, and federal sources as tax credits and grants. The City of Corpus Christi can offer Type A money, or through a Tax Income Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ). The state offers tax credits on historical property renovations, as does the federal government. There’s also a new federal Tax Opportunity Zone, and a National Park Service grant for areas affected by hurricanes, including Harvey.
“The words (the Texas Historical Commission) used, there were some stars that were aligned, given some of these opportunities that have never really been put all together, all at once until now” said Canales.
Nueces County doesn’t have another buyer yet. Canales is confident that when the county finds one, officials will have anticipated every need.