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Downtown Corpus Christi proponents point to TIRZ as reason for economic growth

The tax increment reinvestment zone has allowed .

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Downtown Corpus Christi was a very different place than it is now not even 10 years ago, according to Downtown Management District Executive Director Alyssa Barrera-Mason. 

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

"So in 2016 Downtown was vacant," she said. "There wasn't a lot going on and I think now we have really created a tremendous amount of momentum."

City council members were recently briefed by the Downtown Management District about how well the program has been doing since 2016.

Business owners and Downtown Management District officials believe that the downtown TIRZ has been a great economic shot-in-the-arm for the area.

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

Downtown property taxes gradually increase annually, but because it is part of a TIRZ, not all of the taxes paid stay go to the county -- some of those dollars are taken and reinvested in the area.

"It's not a silver bullet or panacea," said Water Street Restaurant President Richard Lomax. "You still have all of the challenges and risks to open a small business, but this helps to cure a little bit of the trepidation you may have."

A number of businesses have been able to capitalize on investment zone dollars. 

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

Down the street -- the old Greyhound bus terminal was turned into the Bar Under the Sun (BUS).

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

Lomax's family-run business also is working to open a coffee shop and bakery. The bakery will be the first phase, and it will also feature brick-oven cooked pizzas.

TIRZ dollars have funded some of the improvements to his businesses. He said the reinvestment zone is a very valuable tool and encourages others looking to open businesses to consider Downtown.

"Everyone roots for 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 the TIRZ and other city led downtown revitalization efforts are producing real growth in the area.

"You're going to have more multi-family residential housing because we were already working on that," he said. "You have more people living here. They'll be more shops and restaurants, more things to do."

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