Downtown Corpus Christi advocates target TIRZ for city growth

Tax increase reinvestment zone has been allowed.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Downtown Corpus Christi was a very different place than it is now just 10 years ago, according to Downtown Administrative District Executive Director Alyssa Barrera-Mason.

That’s part of the reason the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone was created for that area.

“So in 2016, the center was empty,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot going on and I think now we’ve really built a tremendous amount of momentum.”

The Downtown Management District recently briefed city council members on the performance of the program since 2016.

Business owners and Downtown Management District officials believe the downtown TIRZ has been a great economic opportunity for the area.

Simply put, TIRZs allow the area to bet on itself.

Property taxes in the center gradually increase each year, but because it’s part of a TIRZ, not all taxes paid stay in the county; some of those dollars are taken and reinvested in the area.

“It’s not a silver bullet or a panacea,” said Water Street restaurant president Richard Lomax. “You still have all the challenges and risks of starting a small business, but this helps to cure a bit of any trepidation you may have.”

Several companies have been able to capitalize on the investment zone dollars.

Lucy’s Snackbar, located on Chaparral Street, is one such business.

Down the street, the old Greyhound Bus Terminal was converted into the Bar Under the Sun (BUS).

The former Peerless Cleaners location is now the Goldfish Cocktail Bar.

Lomax’s family business is also working to open a cafeteria and bakery. The bakery will be the first phase, and it will also feature pizzas cooked in a brick oven.

TIRZ dollars have financed some of the improvements to their businesses. He said the reinvestment zone is an invaluable tool and encourages others looking to open businesses to consider the center.

“Everyone supports the neighborhood,” he said. “We just need more entrepreneurs and more tenants to create the neighborhood and make it more attractive.”

Corpus Christi Councilman Roland Barrera told 3NEWS that the combination of TIRZ and other city-led downtown revitalization efforts are producing real growth in the area.

“You are going to have more multi-family residential housing because we were already working on that,” he said. “There are more people living here. There will be more shops and restaurants, more things to do.”

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