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Nueces County Commissioners rule out adding a second floor to Bob Hall Pier

Bob Hall Pier construction.jpg
Posted at 8:19 PM, Mar 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-22 23:28:33-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When talking about the future Bob Hall Pier, the topic of discussion has centered around the potential second floor.

The issue has been cleared up with Nueces County Commissioners Court deciding to nix the idea.

In a 3-2 vote, the commissioners' court ratified the elimination of plans for a second-floor addition to Bob Hall Pier.

As KRIS 6 News reported last month, commissioners were made aware a second-floor addition to Bob Hall Pier may not be structurally feasible.

The whole plan revolved around keeping the original structure that remains of Bob Hall Pier and building around it.

Everyone began to take a closer look.

“To continue to go back and forth on these deals when we hear a study from two different engineers that it’s not likely, it’s not good, it’s going to cost a lot more. And, to continue to move forward just makes no sense to me,” Nueces County Judge Connie Scott said.

John Michael of Hanson Professional Services was asked to conduct an independent review of the potential second-floor design.

He said that the original structure was never built to support a second floor.

“It would not be prudent to take today’s dollars and build a new structure that would be built to last 40 to 50 years, partly on top of an existing structure that has a life span of maybe 20 years,” he said. "No one would do that."

Another issue that would need to be considered with a second floor is ADA compliance.

"You can overcome but it eats up a lot of square footage," he said.

Michael added that there would have to be an elevator, and an emergency stairwell to evacuate people off that second floor.

"All of that eats up space and it eats up money. And then finally, overall maintenance of a structuring sitting that high in the air," he added.

The plan was to include 5,000 square feet on the first floor and the same on the second floor. It's anticipated the pier will now be a wider one-floor structure.

The project currently remains at an estimated $27 million.

Now that there is no second floor, commissioners voted to allocate $1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act funding (ARPA) to the overall construction of the pier.

Using the money to build an additional floor would not be allowed as commissioners understood, based on ARPA guidelines.

They were told that could use the ARPA funding for the overall project allowed because funds can be used to rebuild structures, not create new ones. However, the only caveat is the project must be done and in use by Dec. 31, 2026.

Commissioner Brent Chesney was one who voted for the second floor stating it was what his constituents wanted.

Chesney said he has received "nasty" messages from community members about how commissioners have gone about handling the rebuild.

“Everybody wants to make it about the second story," he said. "OK, make it about the second story, but to criticize this court for allocating $27 million for a pier they didn’t have to allocate a dime for. This court could have said, we’re not going to rebuild the pier, it's too big of a risk it's too big of a gamble."

Chesney said his fellow commissioners should be receiving gratitude.

"There's three people on this court, they don't represent the island, folks," he said. "They'd love to see that $27 million in their precinct for different projects. I guarantee there's a ton of projects. And yet, every one of these other three commissioners has stood up, except on one issue and the main issues of funding, and said yes we're going to rebuild that pier. We're going to make it awesome."

“It’s going to be a state-of-the-art pier," Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez (JAG) said. "I mean, that pier used to bring us over $400,000 of revenue. Not the restaurant, the pier.”

Coastal Parks Board Director Scott Cross Said what comes next will be the handling of some housekeeping matters. That will include getting permits squared away and a 30 percent design blueprint from the engineer.

It's unclear if the removal of a second floor will move up the timeline or back. Construction was anticipated to begin in 2024.

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