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Corpus Christi: 600 Building Renovation in Holding Pattern

Feature Photo (above): The 600 Building (highlighted upper center) as seen from below the downtown bluff at La Retama Park. Image: Google Streets.

Posted: 11-22-2019

by Adolfo Pesquera

Corpus Christi (Nueces County) — A New Orleans-based architecture/development firm’s plans to renovate a historic, 21-story downtown tower is being delayed over financing obstacles.

Back in August 2016, VBX reported that Wisznia Architecture+Development had its eye on converting the 600 Building from office use to market rate apartments with ground floor retail and office space.

The developer’s interest was tied to the company’s family history. Walter Wisznia, the father of company president Marcel Wisznia, lived and worked in Corpus Christi until his passing in 2004.

Marcel Wisznia had the tower, constructed in 1962-1963, under contract and was seeking federal and state historic building tax credits. The board of the Tax Reinvestment Zone #3 agreed to a $2.5 million loan package Nov. 15, 2016. TIRZ loans are reimbursements based on proof of the completion of specific construction-related milestones.

View of North Upper Broadway from inside the Green Light Coffee shop, a street level tenant in a corner space of the 600 Building. Image: Google Streets.

The TIRZ #3 loan came with the understanding the Wisznia would create 126 apartment units and the overall development would have a project value of $36 million. A January 2019 Caller Times report, however, claims the developer wants to create 131 units.

The funding agreement also required that Wisznia complete the project within 20 months after closing. Wisznia finally closed on the property in November 2018.

However, a Nov. 19, 2019 status report on TIRZ #3 projects notes that since then an application for a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development loan was denied. The report also states that Wisznia is “looking at alternative financing options.” At the time of VBX’s 2016 report, Wisznia project manager Ralph Bradshaw did say the project start date was pending on a HUD loan application; he had hopes then of being substantially completed by February 2018.

Wisznia still has eight months on the original agreement, probably not enough time to start and complete renovations. However, if there are signs that progress is being made and a likelihood that the project can move forward, the TIRZ board could, upon request, give Wisznia an extension.

It’s been done before. The downtown TIRZ board first approved a financing incentive package on this project in January 2016.

Wisznia planned to work with general contractor Lemoine Company of Lafayette, Louisiana. The bulk of the renovation would be to the interior. There are a number of exterior elements, however, that need to be reconditioned.

Located at 600 Leopard Street, the 600 Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 600 Building (left) as seen from Leopard Street looking east. Image: Google Streets.


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Construction Preview
By |2019-11-22T13:29:24-05:00November 22nd, 2019|Construction Preview, Feature Story|

About the Author:

Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) 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.

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