New Hopes for Old Courthouse in Corpus Christi
The new Harbor Bridge might have added the incentive needed to move forward on plans to renovate the Old Nueces County Courthouse. Once the old Harbor Bridge has been demolished, an additional 11 acres of adjacent land will open next to the courthouse at 1100 N. Mesquite St. in downtown Corpus Christi. The building has been closed since county offices moved to its current location at 901 Leopard St. in 1977.
Working together to acquire the land are Nueces County, the city of Corpus Christi, the Port of Corpus Christi, the Downtown Management District, and the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization. The parcel is zoned multi-use commercial.
Representatives from each of those entities formed the Harbor Bridge Right-of-Way Coalition in 2018. Its job is to seek redevelopment of about 46 acres of land now in the right-of-way of the current bridge.
Nueces County owns the courthouse and has tried unsuccessfully so far to find investors and developers able to take on a costly renovation project. In early 2018, an attempt to turn the structure into a hotel fell through. The county judge at the time, Loyd Neal, tried to sell the property to the Ed Rachal Foundation for the $1.5 million in back taxes. The foundation planned to tear down the building.
Barbara Canales ran successfully for county judge that same year, making renovation of the building part of her campaign platform.
With the addition of adjacent acreage, the courthouse has new potential. It could become the centerpiece of an attraction area that would include mixed-use, residential, retail, office, open space developments, and a trolly.
The next step in the process is an April letter to the Texas Department of Transportation asking for the right-of-way to quickly be declared surplus and released via deed transfers to local public jurisdictions.
According to a recent study presented in December to county commissioners, the courthouse is structurally sound.
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