CC voters face critical sales tax vote in November

KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi
CORPUS CHRISTI –

Plenty of issues will be in voters’ hands come November, including a pivotal decision on how to spend sales tax revenue.

Depending on the vote, a powerful city board that spends your money, may not exist next year.

An eighth of every cent you pay in sales tax funds the city’s Type A Board, which controls the Type A Fund.

We’re talking millions of dollars a year controlled by five people.

The board spends most of it on economic development. They also spend money on seawall repairs and the American Bank Center.

CLICK HERE: Projects funded by Type A Board

The board (fund) is up for renewal this year, and it’s up to the voters.

Jerry Sansing is president of the Corpus Christi Taxpayers Association. He plans on voting against it.

“I’ve seen too much money go down the drain. You know, we can’t fix streets. We can’t do this. We can’t do that, but we can certainly tax for everything under the sun,” he says.

Sansing would rather the city give that money back to the people, or spend it, in part, to cut down palm trees off Airline. The ones right by the Gulfway Shopping Center.

Sansing says they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because they take up too much room on the sidewalk, and make it almost impossible for people in wheelchairs to get by.

But Type A Board member Bart Braselton points out the board’s numerous accomplishments, like landing Schlitterbahn with a $5 million deal in incentives.

“It competes with other cities, and when you know, when you’re having somebody that’s bringing say, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 new jobs to your city, the return on investment is incredible,” Braselton says.

Sansing says projects like Schlitterbahn don’t need the money.

Braselton points out other things the Type A Board has helped fund, like the Engineering Department at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, or the truck driving program at Del Mar College.

If residents vote to get rid of the board, it’ll be disbanded after any remaining money is spent.

If that happens, it’ll likely be up to the city council to decide how to re-allocate that portion of sales tax revenue every year.  Via KrisTv.com

Corpus Christi Chambers to Unite

hand-shake

Officials for the Corpus Christi and Hispanic chambers of commerce say their historic merger should wrap up in the next few weeks, and that they are just days from unveiling the new organization’s name.

A transition team consisting of members from each chamber’s board took less than a month to unify the groups and agree on a name for the new chamber.

The team is expected to notify the two boards of its recommendation in coming days. The name will be made public after they’ve voted on it, perhaps as early as the beginning of February, Alan Wilson, chairman of the Corpus Christi chamber, told the Caller-Times on Thursday.

Other details, including memberships and drafting bylaws, are being worked out but appear to be on pace for completion by the end of March, Wilson said.

“Everyone has been on board with making sure this (merger) is something positive for the entire region, for the entire community,” said Rosie Gonzalez Collin, chair of the Hispanic chamber.

Members of the chambers voted overwhelmingly Dec. 29 to unite their organizations. Supporters have said the move was necessary to eliminate overlap in membership and to keep Corpus Christi’s business landscape in line with the region’s energy and job growth.

The two chambers haven’t wasted time preparing for the unification since.

Executive board members of each group have met with Annette Medlin, who recently was named president and CEO of the Corpus Christi chamber. The Hispanic chamber is planning an official welcome ceremony for Medlin during its Feb. 25 “Mi Casa es Su Casa” women’s mixer.

Medlin fills a vacancy left by Foster Edwards, who retired.

Earlier this month, the Hispanic chamber announced Gilda Ramirez would remain its interim president, while taking on a full-time role as its vice president of small business, international outreach and education affairs. Ramirez is expected to work on staff of the new chamber once the transition is finished.

Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam via Caller Times

Oil prices drop, Corpus Christi’s rent prices don’t

corpus-christi-rentalsCORPUS CHRISTI – Plunging oil prices may be a relief for Coastal Bend residents at the pumps, but they’re having little influence on rents or mortgage payments.

Experts predict the falling price of crude will force housing costs in energy-dependent Corpus Christi to drop at some point.

That day won’t come in 2015, they say.

The housing market in Corpus Christi is perhaps the tightest it has ever been for both potential renters and those looking to buy a home. Things won’t change for the rest of the year, despite a rush on home and apartment construction, said Jim Lee, the chief economist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Oil field workers who lived in apartments in Corpus Christi are moving to Alice, Cotulla and other small towns within the energy play to be closer to work, said Melissa Gomez, a broker for AAA Apartment Locating in Corpus Christi. Others have been moving out of higher-end luxury apartments and into older, more-affordable complexes to cut costs.

The exodus has created hundreds of apartment vacancies since November, but rent prices remain unchanged. Instead of lowering rents, property managers have eased move-in criteria to insure occupancy. Applicants with credit and rental-history blemishes and those whose income is less than three times the cost of rent are no longer being disqualified for apartments.

“We’ll see a decline in occupancy rates here and there … but they (complexes) won’t empty out,” Gomez said.

The average price of homes in Corpus Christi hit a record high of $207,700 in December, according to the latest data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. That same month, the asking rent for a typical apartment in the city was 25 percent higher than it was just four years ago.

Five recently completed apartment complexes have been cleared since March to take in tenants. Another dozen are in various stages of construction and are due to open in coming months.

The Corpus Christi area’s apartment occupancy rate was 92.5 percent in December, according to ALN Apartment Data, a Carrollton-based firm that tracks rental property trends. That’s down from 94.3 percent in November and the record months of December and April, when occupancy hit 95.2 percent.

Average rent in Corpus Christi in December was between $842 and $880, an ALN report said, though it’s not uncommon for newer complexes to ask for more than $1,100 for a one-bedroom home.

Corpus Christi’s low unemployment has been a magnet for thousands of job seekers in the past three years, most of them eyeing work in the Eagle Ford Shale energy play. The trend has slowed recently as energy companies have scaled back shale production, even shaved jobs, trying to remain profitable.

Falling oil prices and cutbacks in shale oil production by energy companies will put “downward pressure” on the local housing market, Lee said. However, the majority of newly constructed apartments are likely to be absorbed by students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and personnel from the nearby Naval air station.

“The overall housing market in Corpus Christi, including single-family rental houses, will likely soften up after reaching its current peak, but the market for apartments might continue to be tight at least the rest of the year,” Lee said.

Apartment occupancy in Corpus Christi in January 2010 was 89 percent, and average rent was about $700.

Warren Andrich, CEO of the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors, was optimistic about the home sales market, while conceding more rental property was needed in the city.

The Real Estate Center reported that 375 homes were sold in Corpus Christi in December, typically a slow sales month.

The Coastal Bend’s economy, though heavily influenced by the energy industry, is diverse enough to support an increase in housing, Andrich said.

Although homes values are increasing and are being sold at or near their asking prices, Corpus Christi’s inventory of affordable homes — those priced between $125,000-$165,000 — is less than 300 units.

“These are all indicators that we were in need of the additional rentals coming on the market,” Andrich said.

Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam

Corpus Christi Apartment Market (December 2014)

Occupancy Rate: 92.5 percent

Asking Rent: $880

Effective Rent: $873

Average Apt. Size: 850 square feet

Average Market Rent Breakdown By Floor Plan

Efficiency, $671

1 Bedroom, $753

2 Bedroom, $944

3 Bedroom, $1,084

4 Bedrooms +, $2,181

Source: ALN Apartment Data

Housing Activity (Annual figures)

Year No. of sales Average price Median Price Months of inventory

2004 4,745 $132,100 $113,800 4.6

2005 4,894 $147,300 $125,200 5.0

2006 5,192 $153,300 $130,400 6.2

2007 4,510 $162,000 $136,500 7.4

2008 3,773 $162,200 $138,900 9.0

2009 3,444 $155,500 $134,800 10.2

2010 3,445 $152,300 $136,500 10.3

2011 3,396 $157,500 $135,700 9.5

2012 4,058 $169,900 $142,300 7.1

2013 4,589 $180,700 $152,200 5.3

2014 4,721 $197,100 $168,600 4.5

Source: Real Estate Center, Texas A&M University.

via @callertimes

Number of Oil & Gas Jobs Continue to Rise in Texas

Eagle Ford Job Seekers Face Challenges Living in the Oil Patch

The Eagle Ford Shale boom is attracting workers in South Texas, and with the price of oil currently hovering around $100 per barrel, growth is expected to continue into the immediate future. In March of 2014, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) said 3,200 oil and gas related jobs were added in January, for a total of 15,800 jobs over the year and an annual growth rate of 5.6%.

With statistics like those, many folks are seeking Eagle Ford jobs to fulfill their dream of a better life, support a family, or simply make a career change, but working in the South Texas oil patch can be challenging. Since the boom began, the landscape of South Texas has changed – housing shortages, overcrowded schools, and increased traffic have become the new reality for many parts of South Texas.

South Texas Housing Options

This isn’t the first oil boom the U.S. has ever experienced. As a child, I recall my grandmother telling stories about living in tent cities, as her father worked the rigs across the country during the 1930s. Today, in South Texas, there are a number of lodging options, but where oilfield workers ultimately find a place mostly depends on availability and budget.

As a result of traditional housing shortages, many south Texas oilfield workers have chosen RVs as a temporary form of housing in a slew of South Texas RV parks that have sprung up all across the region in response to the boom. Prices for slips and accommodations can vary from park to park, and generally, prices have either go up or down depending on a park’s proximity to a hot area of development in the Eagle Ford. Most oilfield workers see their RVs as a place to get cleaned up, eat, sleep and then get back to work. Since 2009, hundreds of parks all across South Texas have targeted oilfield workers as their primary customer-base.

Concerns for Oilfield Workers

Aside from housing shortages, when school starts again in September, oil patch families can expect overcrowding and possible understaffing in South Texas schools. While some oilfield workers moving to Texas have opted to bring their families with them, others have decided to leave their families at home.

Another concern for workers seeking opportunities in the Eagle Ford Shale are traffic accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 3,430 fatal and serious injury crashes and 236 traffic fatalities were recorded in the Eagle Ford in 2013. The count represents a 7% increase in fatal and serious injury crashes over the previous year for the region.

Author : Kirk Eggleston EagleFordShale.com

M&G Chemicals Plant Update: Corpus Christi Site

On Thursday, February 13th, at the Padre Island Business Association lunch, Jeff Shea, Site Manager for M&G Chemicals, spoke to update us on the M&G Chemicals PET/PTA Facility.

The privately owned company has locations all throughout the world, but this site here on Port Corpus Christi, Inner Harbor (across from Flint Hills Resources) will be the largest plant yet.

WHAT WILL THE PLANT PRODUCE?

The plant produces polyethylene terephthalate (PET for short), which is a safe and easily recyclable plastic polymer used mainly for containers of all sorts due to its superior water and moisture barrier quality. It will also produce the PET key raw material, purified terephthalic acid (PTA). Production is estimated at 1200 KMT/yr (kilometric tons per year) of PTA and 1000 KMT/yr of PET. This process is FDA approved, and a $1 billion investment.

CO-GENERATION PLANT

This means the plant intends to produce its own electricity. They will do this by using natural gas combustion for electricity, steam and heat. This is efficiency by using “waste.” Water usage is also at the forefront of the plant, as its projected to use approximately 6 million gallons per day. So M&G plans to generate their own water so Corpus Christi doesn’t suffer from drought due to the plant. They will bring in water from the Gulf, pull out the salt, and then put the brine back into the ocean. The technology used here is called “reverse osmosis membrane.”

WHY CORPUS CHRISTI?

According to Shea, “you guys got it all!” (which we already knew J). Corpus is located on the Gulf, it has easy access to three railroads, there are six refineries around, deep-water access, and there is Port access to the Bay and Viola Channel.

BENEFITS TO CORPUS CHRISTI?

This is thought to be an international investment to the area in that it holds the possibility of attracting upsteam and downstream industries as a result of the M&G investment, as this is a company with a proven track record of renewable resources. Not to mention, it will generate many jobs.

LET’S TALK JOBS AND TIMELINE

Jobs:

  • 250 direct full-time employees
  • 700 indirect employees
  • 3,000 construction workers at its peak (5 million man hours!)

Timeline:

  • Summer 2014 – Federal Air Permit received
  • 2nd Quarter of 2014 – Construction begins
  • 4th Quarter of 2015 – Construction completed
  • 1st Quarter of 2016 – Plant commissioned and operational

MAYOR NELDA MARTINEZ: STATE OF THE CITY

“Bold and Balanced Growth” is how Mayor Martinez described our Emerald City by the Bay, Corpus Christi – and she isn’t kidding. On the afternoon of February 6, 2014, at the American Bank Center, she touched on two major statistics that will hopefully make a big impact in the Real Estate realm this coming year.

Corpus Christi is one of the fastest growing metro economies in the United States coming in at No. 10 with a 3.8% increase in 2013 and a projected 3.1% increase for 2014. This is also due to a 4.3% rise in jobs. More people coming to Corpus = more buyers in the real estate market! Finally, the scale is tipping.

Mayor Martinez also pointed out that since 2010, there has been a housing rise of 19%. There has been a sizeable increase in new construction in Corpus, creating roughly 3,800 new jobs in 2013. Why would there be this kind of boom in new construction you ask? Because we want to be prepared for the economic growth that is expected. From 2012 to 2013, there was a 32% increase in new residential permits alone.

With that though, there has been a shortage of affordable housing. The city is attempting to change this by building some low-income housing, such as The Palms at Leopard, to accommodate 120 apartments, which broke ground Nov. 14, 2013, on Leopard Street. The goal is to offer a healthy mix of housing options throughout Corpus Christi, and to continue with neighborhood cleanups.

As for the Island, Schlitterbahn is projected to bring mass amounts of people to the park, increasing the growth and relevance of the island. Property values are expected to increase due to this exposure, and there will certainly be many more people looking to buy and rent around the island.

Onward and upward, Corpus Christi!

Cheniere Energy, Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project Update!

Chenier Energy coming to Corpus Christi

This past Thursday, Jan. 9, at the Padre Island Business Association lunch, we had the pleasure of listening to guest speaker Jason French update us on the latest Cheniere liquefaction plant. To be located just northeast of Corpus Christi on La Quinta Channel of Corpus Christi Bay.  French, Director of Government and Public Affairs for Cheniere Energy, described this as a time of “energy revolution” due to the “rise in manufacturing because of mass supply of oil and gas in Texas.” The plant, which should take roughly 5 years to complete, will start construction this time next year for an estimated completion year of 2018.

In a nutshell, liquefaction is the process of super cooling liquid natural gas to make it safer for long distance transportation.

Click here to read all about the liquefaction process and what this plant will do:
http://www.cheniere.com/corpus_christi/corpus_project.shtml

Benefits to the public?

This $10.5 billion dollar project will bring in jobs for approximately 300-400 people per day
during construction as well as permanent employees once completed. French also estimated
about 50,000 permanent indirect exploration and production jobs, a $5.2 billion dollar secondary
economic impact to the greater Corpus Christi region, and a $7 billion dollar reduction in trade
deficit.

2013 was Good……2014 should be even Better!

Austin Business Journal:  Corpus Christi blows Austin away in construction job growth!

Best Performing Cities Index by the Milken Institute:

Corpus Christi ranks 17th best performing Large City in America.

Corpus Christi is the 5th fastest metro employment growth in the Nation.

Global Insight for the US Metro Economies report: Based upon Gross Metropolitan Product, Corpus Christi ranks 10th!

Projects breaking ground this year:

Cheniere Energy – $12B LNG plant

Voestalpine – $700 million processing plan (largest Austrian project in the US)

M&G Resins – $900 million PTA/PET plant(the largest such facility in the world)

Occidental Petroleum announced a joint venture with Mexichem to build a $1.5B project in Ingleside.

Corpus is becoming a ‘global’ community.  TPCO (Chinese), Voestalpine (Austrian), M&G Resins (Italian), Trafigura (Swiss), Mexichem (Mexican) are sending people to Corpus regularly to do business ‘right here!’

Tourism:  Spring/Summer Schlitterbahn Country Beach Water Resort opening  their park/resort on North Padre Island’s – first phase.

New Home Starts:  Up 60% over the last two years.  Homes sales are up, prices are up and major construction are up!

So, come on 2014…….we’re ready for you!!!

Come Coast Awhile………with us!