For sale: Harbor Island
Plans by the Port of Corpus Christi to sell a chunk of its Harbor Island property are good news for Port Aransas, according to John LaRue, executive director at the port.
An eventual sale could bring in a new business that could produce jobs in Port Aransas and inject the city and school district here with tens of thousands of dollars in new property tax revenue, LaRue said.
Port commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday, May 10, to give exclusive rights to the real estate firm of Cushman
& Wakefield to sell or lease the property.
The 252 acres of land lie directly across Corpus Christi Ship Channel from Roberts Point Park. It’s largely empty right now, except for a building that once was used in conjunction with the Texas Treasure, a defunct casino ship operation.
The property has been idle since the Texas Treasure went out of business in 2008.
Before the Texas Treasure operation came along, the property was a tank farm where petroleum products were stored for many years. The tanks are gone now, but some of their content was left behind. Workers have toiled for years to clean up the soil where oil leaked from the tanks. It has been cleaned up to “an industrial standard,” LaRue said, but not to a higher standard at which hotels or residences are likely to be readily built there.
LaRue said he doesn’t expect any heavy industry to spring up on the land, partly because a plant would probably want rail service nearby, and that doesn’t exist there.
“I don’t foresee anyone wanting to build a chemical plant,” he said.
Also, LaRue said, it’s not likely that port commissioners would approve a sale that would result in that kind of facility.
If the Cushman & Wakefield brings a client forward as a possible buyer, commissioners couldn’t legally just sell the property to the client, but would need to open the sales process up for competitive bidding. The port would establish the client’s price as minimum price, LaRue said.
LaRue estimated that the property is worth about $30 million.
No government entities have been getting property tax revenue from the property because it’s owned by the port – a government entity itself.
But if the property becomes privately owned, Port Aransas city government would start getting some property tax revenue the land lies within the city limits.
If the property’s value is $30 million, the city would get $99,000 a year in property tax revenue at the current tax rate, according to Darla Honea, the city’s finance director. The property owner would be one of the city’s largest taxpayers, Honea said.
The Port land also lies within the Port Aransas Independent School District, according to Chuck Borders, president of the PAISD Board of Trustees.
The district would take in probably three times what the city would get in terms of revenue, but if a housing development is built there, and additional students live there, it could be a wash, Borders said.
It’s also important to remember that 70 percent of the property tax revenue brought in by PAISD would have to be sent back to the state due to “Robin Hood” law in which money from property-wealthy school districts is shared with poorer districts, Borders said.
LaRue wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a casino ship locating itself at the dock along the edge of the property facing the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
“We have continued to talk to people, on and off, about that,” LaRue said. “No one has gotten serious, though. But we have inquiries every once in a while.”
Part of the reason no casino ship has come is because of the costs of operating a ship, including the cost of fuel, LaRue said.
Canyon Supply and Logistics, a Houston company, has shown interest in the land, LaRue said.
“Their major field of interest is in the off- shore industry. Not necessarily like Kiewit, but providing services to the offshore (oil) industry,” LaRue said, referring to the company in Ingleside that builds large, oceangoing oil rigs.
That would mean conducting services like maintenance and testing on offshore oil and gas production platforms, he said.
Canyon Supply and Logistics has agreed to buy the now-closed Naval Station Ingleside property for about $100 million.
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