CORPUS CHRISTI — Creating a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone for North Beach is a key part of a proposed development plan for the area.
That TIRZ was the subject of a joint workshop between City Council Members and County Commissioners Thursday. The workshop was scheduled after a council vote o n the TIRZ last week was cancelled after some members asked for more information.
After the session, leaders had a better idea of the TIRZ will work and where the money will go.
“We're within, in my opinion and I can't read the tea leaves, but we're within a week of getting this passed on a first reading,” said Mayor Joe McComb.
According to the presentation, a North Beach TIRZ could generate close to $40 million to spur development through tax reimbursements.
So what would this TIRZ pay for? The version presented Thursday included money for improved signage, park improvements, tearing down blighted buildings, public safety, area beautification, parking structures, property improvements, housing development, and residential streets maintenance. However, Mayor McComb felt something was missing.
“When you look back at the public comment, 90% of the people who spoke want to get the drainage fixed.,” said McComb.
There is an alternate proposal in the TIRZ which takes the $10 million for parking structures and puts it towards paying for fixing drainage. Most leaders felt the TIRZ and drainage should be separate, something echoed by developer Jeff Blackard of the North Beach Infrastructure Task Force.
“The drainage problem is a city problem, it should be paid by the city, not by the TIRZ,” said Blackard. “The TIRZ is really an instrument to enhance the area to get people to go there and invest in the area.”
The next step is for staff to tweak the TIRZ document and present it to the council Tuesday, when the council is expected to approve creating the TIRZ.
As for North Beach’s drainage problems, Blackard proposed a canal project as a solution, which would be the centerpiece of a Riverwalk style attraction. A presentation from city staff and Urban Engineering on how to solve the drainage problem will also be a part of Tuesday’s council meeting.
If approved, the North Beach TIRZ will be designated TIRZ #4. Once the TIRZ is created, property tax values will be frozen on North Beach. Each year, property taxes collected on that base value go into the city or county general funds. As properties within that TIRZ develop and increase in value, a significant portion of the taxes collected above the base value are put into the TIRZ fund, which can only be used for approved projects within the TIRZ. The financial returns accumulate over time, which is why TIRZ agreements last 20-25 years.