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Sunrise Mall owners twice given notice of code violations; code enforcement shuts down building

Corpus Christi Code Enforcement placed signs on the doors on February 14 and again on May 2 prohibiting entrance to the building due to violations.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It was once a bustling spot in the heart of Corpus Christi. Sunrise Mall appeared in the film The Legend of Billie Jean, Selena performed on Domingo Live! there, but in 2018 the stores began to say goodbye- effectively leaving the mall a ghost town.  

The final store closed in 2019. The only thing that remains of the mall in 2023 is a gym, church and new bar.

Then, on February 14 and again on May 2, 2023, Corpus Christi Code Enforcement placed a sign on the doors prohibiting entrance to the building. 

"An investigation of this structure finds it to be unsafe; and/or unfit for human occupancy; and/or an unlawful structure; and/or deemed a threat to public health, safety or welfare," the sign said. 

Officials with code enforcement said in order to reopen the building, property managers will have to pay citations and get it back up to code. The owners of the mall, MO-PAT Sunrise Mall, LLC, filed for bankruptcy in 2022, according to legal documents.  

The open businesses at the mall, including the gym, church, and bar, will not be affected by the shutdown. 

Filmmaker Dan Bell made this YouTube video as part of his 'Dead Mall Series' explaining the rise and fall of the mall. When he walked through the entrance, he said it felt like taking a step back in time.

"When we went to the mall, I absolutely couldn't believe it," he said. "I was standing there in awe."

Noe Bocanegra owns War and Peace Limited, which used to be in Sunrise Mall from 1996 until it closed in 2019. He said owners at the time stopped maintaining the mall, instead focusing on others in places like Dallas and Fort Worth.

“You have to put money back into the mall, whatever business you have," Bocanegra said. "Or even if you own a home, you have it keep it up. If not, it gets worse and that’s what happened over there.”

War and Peace Limited was one of the last businesses in Sunrise Mall before it closed. Bocanegra retired for a few months before reopening in what is now La Palmera Mall.

"They just let it go and it was a beautiful mall and maybe somebody could bring it back, but I doubt it," Bocanegra said. "It’s really, really in bad shape now."

A retired Vietnam veteran, Bocanegra served in the U.S. Army as a medic. He said he will eventually sell his current store so La Palmera Mall can renovate the space.

As for Sunrise Mall, Bocanegra said he has a lot of good memories from their old location.

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