North Beach canal could generate millions for city

Posted at 5:59 PM, Oct 30, 2019

CORPUS CHRISTI — A new report recommends either digging an open ditch, or a canal combined with raising elevation to fix the North Beach Drainage.

Some believe a canal would spark a North Beach renaissance and be worth tens of millions of dollars to the city. During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Chip Urban with Urban Engineering put the price tag for raising the streets and digging the canal at $71 million. However, a recent economic impact study suggests a canal would bring in more than that in its first year.

There's a case of canal fever on North Beach. Business owners have it.

“I would love to see the plan come to what they want to do with a nice canal and turning this into a nice Riverwalk,” said Nick Catalano, owner of Yo Philly Cheesesteaks. “It would be great for business, it would be great for everybody.”

The people who live there do as well.

“Not only would we have a big drainage canal with restaurants and stuff beside it, you'd have pedestrian and bike access everywhere,” said Carrie Meyer, a 15-year North Beach resident.

A canal is one option the city is considering as a drainage solution for North Beach. The other is an open ditch. Developer Jeff Blackard sees a canal as the centerpiece for a San Antonio Riverwalk style attraction here. That Riverwalk generates about $3.5 billion a year for San Antonio

According to the study. a North Beach Canal would generate $94 million in its first year.

“What they look at is the methodology in which you project revenues into the future,” said Chad Magill with the North Beach Preservation Society. “They also look at the expected drivers of economic activity.”

The report estimates a canal would create four new restaurants, four new retail shops, and three new hotels. Those new business would create 750 full time jobs, with more than $17 million in salaries. There's also a planned amusement park and amphitheater; plus 10% more visitors to the Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington.

“It's moving North Beach into the 21st Century, that's what these improvements are all about,” said Meyer.

That $94 million estimate doesn't include the tax revenue. According to the study, in the first year the city would make $4.6 million in property, hotel occupancy, and sales taxes; as well as utilities. That’s on top of what goes into the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

According to city manager Peter Zanoni the city wants public input before making its decision for North Beach.