Corpus Christi: Law Firm Gets Zoning for 2-Story Office Building
Feature Photo: Looking south on Brisbane Drive toward Saratoga Boulevard, the vacant church complex to the right is proposed to be razed, and a two-story office building would be constructed south of it. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Corpus Christi (Nueces County) — City Council approved a request to construct a two-story office building on a former church property for a project that was generally opposed by the neighborhood residents.
The Tuesday vote, unanimous with one abstention, required the support of at least three-quarters of the councilmembers to overcome the Planning Commission’s December decision to deny a zoning change from residential to office use.
The Episcopal Church Corporation in West Texas, as the landowner of 4518 Saratoga Boulevard, submitted the application. However, commercial real estate broker Wayne Lundquist of Cobb, Lundquist & Atnip, Inc. represented the prospective buyer during Tuesday’s meeting.
Lundquist is representing Bryan K. Harris, an injury attorney who has the land under contract and wants to build an office building to relocate his law practice. He also intends to lease some space to other attorneys, Lundquist said.
Lundquist said they had been working on getting this deal done for 18 months. The original timeline required closing on the deed by Dec. 19, 2020. That had to be delayed and an additional $25,000 of earnest money deposited to extend the closing date to March 31, he said.
In the months preceding the Planning Commission’s December vote, Lundquist said had gone door to door to get 56 signatures to amend an old deed restriction that originally allowed construction of the church on land zoned for single family residential. The 56 signatures acquired allows the construction of an office building on the 1.5 acres that front the hard corner of Saratoga Boulevard and Brisbane Drive.
The church and a small school, with a combined area of 12,500 square feet, sit on the 1 acre to the rear. According to third-party testimony, Harris assured the neighbors that the church buildings would be demolished after the office building is constructed.
This has been a concerned, Lundquist explained, because the church has long been abandoned and is a neighborhood nuisance; homeless people have used it as shelter and there was recently a fire.
Neighbors in opposition complained that occupants in a three-story office building could look down into their backyards, a privacy concern. They also expressed concern that the zoning requested, Office Neighborhood District (ON), could allow construction of a hotel or some other commercial use.
Lundquist contested that assumption. Responding to a question from Mayor Paulette Guajardo about the deed restriction, he said any proposal other than the office building would require a developer to go back to the neighborhood association for another amendment.
Urban Engineering Inc. project manager Xavier Galan informed the council in writing to explain neighbors’ misconceptions about the scope of the project. Galan said the initial description of a three-story, 12,000-18,000 square-foot office building was a ‘worst case’ description that was given by his office because they did not yet have a site plan.
“The site plan that has been provided (at the March 16 meeting) shows a two-story 5,030 square-foot building. But the actual building can be potentially between 6.ooo and 8,000 square feet,” Galan stated.
Council ultimately voted to approve a Development Services Department staff recommendation to approve the project through a special use permit.
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.