CORPUS CHRISTI — The Corpus Christi Downtown Management said they’ve got a good momentum going when it comes to attracting business to the area.
“The key word is potential,” Richard Lomax, the president of Water Street Restaurants, said. “Everyone is always like. God downtown has so much potential. But you and I are standing right here, and there’s a marina and a sunrise. Where else in the U.S. can you find cheap real estate on the water?”
Between the mid 2022 and the beginning of February 2023, businesses like Cafe Calypso, Hype Bike, Hybrid Records, All Good Fitness, Pharmacy Grill, Produce and V.N.P. Gallery opened.
Alyssa Barrera Mason, the director of the Downtown Management District, said most of them are owned by locals.
“People just wanting to make an impact on the way that Corpus Christi looks and realizing that they have an opportunity to do it here in their hometown,” Mason said.
Business owners said the increase in foot traffic is welcome.
“It was crazy just seeing, like, more people walking up and down the block,” Carlos Cooper, the owner Hybrid Records, said. “Especially people that we haven’t seen before.”
Hybrid Records opened in 2022 and Cooper said Peoples Street has exploded in growth.
“This block will have gone from two businesses to what’s about to be six,” Cooper said.
Cooper said he was happy to see more retail spaces opening because downtown didn't offer much of it before.
Water Street Restaurants has called downtown home for years.
Their newest concept, Central Kitchen, is expected to open by February 10.
“It’s a breakfast and lunch concept and we really wanted to focus on high quality, homemade, local products,” Lomax said.
The DMD, the city and other partners connect business with funds that can help them set up shop.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do this concept without their help,” Lomax said. “Without some of the grant programs and put them in place and incentive packages they’ve given entrepreneurs.”
“A lot of time a business cannot absorb all that cost but if we’re able to utilize those incentives to help that property owner make some of those improvements to make some of that available, that’s why we utilize those programs,” Barrera Mason said.
She said they can help with costs to activate a vacant building, finishing costs and exterior expenses.
“If there’s plumbing mechanical or electrical work that needs to be done,” Barrera Mason said.
Barrera Mason said they are working with 30 potential projects.
She said four are closer to opening like Central Kitchen, a Retrocade, The Annex and a new restaurant at bus called Bus Tasty Bites.
Another source of financial backing for downtown businesses comes the tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ.TIRZ takes taxes from a special district like downtown and reinvests some of the money into the area.