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Developers Sought for Old Water Plant Site

Some of the structures at the former John W. Cunningham Water Plant near Labonte Park date to 1893. Others were built in the 1950s. The plant was abandoned in 1988. Courtesy photos

An abandoned 125-year-old water plant and the 10 acres of waterfront property on which it sits could have a future after all. The city of Corpus Christi announced two walking tours on the property in hopes of snagging the interest of a developer who could turn the historic location into a taxpaying, aesthetically pleasing, community-improving development.

Each of the tours begins at 10 a.m. The first is set for Friday, July 20, and the second for Friday, Aug. 3. RSVPs should be made directly to Alex Dandridge by contacting (361) 826-3494 or

The purpose is to compile a list of parties interested in exploring the property’s potential to Corpus Christi City Council in late August. No asking price has been set.

“The city is seeking a dynamic development project that will convert the vacant former Cunningham plant into an exciting restaurant, food and/or beverage production operation, or similar concept that will draw customers to the city as a tourist destination while also promoting a community of culture that recognizes and embraces innovation and entrepreneurship,” reads the Request for Interest posted online. “The city envisions a development that will create a positive image for the city of Corpus Christi.”

An RFI allows interested parties an opportunity to submit a Letter of Interest for the acquisition and redevelopment of a property. It is not a Request for Proposal but an invitation to participate in any future RFPs advertised or direct negotiations with the city.

Considered one of the oldest water treatment plants in South Texas, John W. Cunningham Water Plant near Labonte Park was built in 1893. It was the Corpus Christi’s first water plant. After abandoning it in 1915, the city restarted operations in the 1940s, expanding the plant through that decade and the next. It officially went offline in 1988 and has been sitting unused ever since.

A city website declares the structures sound and perfect for similar successful developments such as the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio and The Pump House in Victoria.

A popular restaurant and event venue that opened in Victoria in 2011, The Pump House was the Victoria Pumping Plant-Waterworks before its current incarnation.

The Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, which was built in 1881, has been converted into 446 apartments, 19 restaurants, and 14 retailers. It is home to a farmers market and a 2-acre park in the heart of downtown San Antonio.

The city of Corpus Christi pointed out in its call for RFIs that the property has tested positive for asbestos and lead paint. The list of positive attributes includes:

• 10 acres of waterfront property on the Nueces River;

• 37,000 square feet of gross building area;

• multiple buildings that are structurally sound;

• and location on Interstate 37, exposing it to up to 42,000 vehicles a day.

The deadline for submitting a RFI is 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20. Inquiries related to the RFI must be submitted in writing no later than five days before the Aug. 20 deadline to:

Daniel McGinn, Director of Planning and Environmental

City of Corpus Christi

1201 Leopard St.

Corpus Christi, TX 78401


Phone: (361) 826-7011

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