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Corpus Christi City Council Looks into $166M Expansion of American Bank Center

07/31/2017 02:52:00 pm | Viewed: 523

Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange

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A proposed convention center hotel and parking garage would be placed to the northwest of American Bank Center, connecting to it near the auditorium. Conceptual site plan courtesy of Trahan Architects.

 

Posted: 7-31-2017, 3:42 p.m.

by Adolfo Pesquera

Corpus Christi (Nueces County) - The City Council has directed staff to do further research on the financing required for a convention center overhaul that could total an estimated $166 million and include the construction of a 15-story convention headquarters hotel with a connecting parking garage.

The directive was the result of a July 19 workshop during which council listened to a presentation by HVS and Trahan Architects, both Chicago-based consultants that have been working for the city on a feasibility study since 2014. In addition, cost estimates were prepared by Rider Levett Bucknall.

Council had been discussing renovating its convention center complex, known as American Bank Center, since 2010. The city has experienced a steady decline in attendees since 2008. More recently, the Texas FFA announced it would no longer bring its 13,000 members for its annual state meeting.

HVS Managing Director Tom Hazinski told council their projections were that Corpus Christi would continue to see a decline in bookings and attendees to the convention center if nothing is done.

He proposed plans to expand the convention center, the arena, and the auditorium, as well as the addition of a hotel and garage.

 

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The proposed expansion zones are in the darker shades of blue, green, orange-brown, and in the red. Courtesy of Trahan Architects.

 

The hotel is necessary because it has become the norm in most markets to have a hotel connected to municipal convention centers. Citing their surveys of convention planners, Hazinski said 95 percent require or prefer and adjacent hotel and 58 percent require that it be physically attached.

Hazinski recommended expanding the convention center space from the existing 136,000 square feet to 177,000 square feet.

The additional 41,000 square feet would be more flexible, he said. In addition, the hotel would have meeting room space that could augment the convention center. Recommended expansions at the arena and auditorium could bring the total area increase to American Bank Center to about 90,000 square feet.

Leigh Breslau, a Trahan Architects partner, displayed conceptual site plans and elevations that he stressed were not meant to be construed as preliminary designs.

“The architecture will come later, but what we needed to do was get a scope of the intervention and then figure out the cost,” Breslau said.

He noted that the needs of each component vary. The arena needs more space primarily because of a lack of storage space. The convention center needs more space because the existing exhibition halls lack flexibility and floor area; it has structural columns between meeting rooms that make it impossible to move walls. It also needs a larger and more presentable main lobby.

 

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There was also a proposal to expand the auditorium, which would have a shared lobby with the convention center. However, the consultants said there was no ready revenue source to expand the auditorium and relegate future work there to a Phase 2.

Breslau recommended placing the hotel to the northwest of the convention center complex on city-owned land. In that position, it could connect directly to the convention center and the auditorium. There could also be a small park between the hotel and auditorium where visitors could stroll in a pedestrian friendly environment.

The hotel and the convention center complex expansion would involve sacrificing surface parking. For that reason, and the anticipated increase in visitors, Breslau and Hazinski recommended a multistory garage west of the hotel that would be connected by a pedestrian skybridge above North Chaparral Street.

Hazinski said that if all the recommendations are accepted, the facilities would serve the city’s needs for the next 15 to 17 years.

Projected Benefits of Expansion

  • 27 additional annual events
  • 74,000 additional annual attendees
  • 42,000 room nights booked
  • $33 million annual economic impact
  • 325 fulltime equivalent jobs
  • $1.34 million in annual sales and hotel tax collections

Hazinski said there were readily available funding sources for the convention center expansion, the arena and the hotel.

 

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Of the four components, council expressed the most confidence in moving forward with the hotel because it could be accomplished by attracting a private developer through use of a public-private partnership. However, they were well aware that a more ambitious hotel project could be proposed if the developer were to be assured that the convention center expansion would go forward.
Council wants staff to refine the financial costs and funding sources in order to build consensus in the community for the projects.

Once those steps are accomplished, the consultants recommended council prepare a Request For Proposal for the design and construction teams for the convention center. A separate Request For Proposal would be issued for the hotel development.

 

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adolfo@viirtualbx.com


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Zoom Related Images
The proposed expansion zones are in the darker colors and in red.
The proposed hotel would be located to the northwest of the complex, away from the bayfront.
The view from North Chaparral Street looking north toward Hirsch Street. The proposed hotel would be right of the street and the garage to the left.
Stack diagram of the convention center hotel.

Author Info
image
Adolfo Pesquera
Reporter/Editor
adolfo@virtualbx.com

Adolfo Pesquera is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.