Summer Seawall Series: Part Two - Marina Arts District in Corpus Christi, TX

Jul 31, 2019

By: Alexandra Scott

Part Two:

The Numbers

In Part One of our ‘Seawall Series’, we focused on some of the current issues plaguing our beloved seawall. We discussed how the degradation of the levee and flood protection systems are creating the potential for serious damage to Downtown Corpus Christi and how most people don’t even know that they are part of the greater seawall structure. Part Two is here to shed some light further into the seawall by focusing on something different, the numbers. Let’s start with dates. 

Here’s a brief timeline of how our iconic structure came to be

1890 – A local newspaper article suggested structures to prevent flooding
1904 – Local judge proposed a seawall project
1919 – Hurricane struck Corpus Christi
1925 – System of breakwater structures completed
1926 – Port opened
1938 – Voters approved $650,000 to fund seawall
1939 – Construction began on a seawall
1941 – Construction completed
1986 – Voters approved $4 million in repairs
1997 – Mirador de la Flor completed
2000 – Voters approved dedicated Seawall Fund
2002 – Work began on improvements
2006 – Work completed

Today, we’re specifically focusing on the sales tax fund that was approved in November 2000 because it is a tax that’s still being collected. Meaning that after we completed the $45 million in projects in 2006, the money is still being collected into a dedicated Seawall Fund.

This is especially pertinent now given the repairs are that are needed.

The 1/8th cent sales tax that received 70 percent of voter approval is a tax that is to be collected over 25 years. Well, 25 years starting when it was approved. Since the money is still being collected, what should we do with it?

That’s the million-dollar question. Well, the $45 million-dollar question because that is what is currently sitting in the fund.

It seems a little serendipitous that $45 million is what we have in the fund considering $41 million in projects and repairs are what is needed to get the Seawall Flood Protection System back into fighting shape.

All of this sounds like a lot of money since we just completed tens of millions in repairs 13 years ago but the money would go to repair parts of the levee system, which we discussed in Part One of our series, that protects the SEA District (Whataburger Field, American Bank Center, Museum of Science & History, etc.) and the industrial, wastewater treatment plant.

The chances of a 100-year storm, defined for us as 13.5 inches of rainfall in 24 hours or wave heights of 12 feet, hitting Corpus Christi get greater every year and a potential $48 to $76 million in damages if, or when, the protection system fails.

The original ballot language from that 2000 Bond states, “The Seawall is essential to maximizing new and expanded commercial and retail business development and retaining commercial business activity in the area.” We all know this to be true. Our seawall is a focal point of the city as a tourist destination and as a source of protection for some of the things we love most.

Sometimes when it comes to money, our eyes can get a little glossy. Hopefully, this didn’t confuse anyone too much. If you’re left wondering, “What’s next,” stay tuned for the final piece in our Seawall Series out next month.