CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When the downtown vacant building ordinance took effect in October 2018, the intent -- according to Corpus Christi assistant police chief David Blackmon -- was clear.
As he describes it, the goal is "to get the boards off the windows and make downtown look like it's open for business again."
In the ten months since the new rules have been in place, some of the properties are improved. The ordinance required inspections of the vacant buildings along with other improvements, including the removal of boards from windows and the addition of lighting and numbers to the exterior of the properties. Owners who do not comply are issued citations.
Chief Blackmon says the new regulations has led to movement on some of these buildings.
"They've either passed into the hands of people who want to revitalize them, or these property owners have decided that it's time to revitalize them," Blackmon told KRIS 6 News
During a recent update presented during a July meeting of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #3, 36 vacant commercial buildings were identified in downtown, Of those buildings, 16 are still in violation of the ordinance and 12 are now compliant. The remaining eight are either under an incentive agreement to open a new business, had no violations, will be demolished, or considered a closed case.
City leaders believe these changes have already led to new businesses in downtown, while improving the look and the safety of the area.
"We're excited about this ordinance because once it becomes vibrant and it looks like people care about these areas, then crime does go down," Blackmon explained.
For the properties that are not up to standard, Blackmon says the city and police are determined to hold the owners accountable.
"We're issuing them citations and the plan is that we're going to get their attention and they're either going to comply or they're going to pay the fines."
So far, 22 citations have been issued on the buildings in violation. Those fines are issued after multiple inspections and notices to the owners.
The city also hopes to get better contact information for the owners. When council members approved the ordinance last year, they took out a requirement for owners to register their properties with the city. Staff plans to revisit the ordinance again in October.