Date: September 16–21, 2018
Location: Port Aransas, TX
Sponsor: Port Aransas/Mustang Island Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau
Subject Area: Disaster Recover, Economic Development
Panel Chair: Rick Dishnica, The Dishnica Company, LLC, Point Richmond, CA
Background and Panel Assignment
Port Aransas is a barrier island off the southern coast of Texas near Corpus Christi. It is known as a tourist destination for its beaches, deep sea fishing and village atmosphere. In August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the island just north of the community which led to an active and ongoing recovery effort over the last 12 months. The Sponsor approached ULI to conduct an Advisory Services Panel to provide strategic recommendations on the City’s economic potential, housing issues, downtown corridor and implementation as it continues to rebuild after Harvey.
Summary of Recommendations
After briefings from the sponsor committee, a tour of the island and more than 60 stakeholder interviews, the panel came up with strategic recommendations addressing the Sponsor’s questions.
The panel found that tourism continues to be Port Aransas’s strongest economic driver. However, it was determined that socioeconomic and real estate market data was lacking for the community and that this needed to be addressed to provide references for essential planning, real estate and economic development activities. The panel also recommended that the City should update its comprehensive plan and review supporting policy documents and enforcement procedures. If affordable or workforce housing need is addressed through a Housing Corporation, tools should be put in place to maintain long-term rentals for future permanent residents.
A range of transportation and mobility recommendations were also outlined to meet existing and future needs. To address questions related to the downtown corridor, the panel suggested catalytic development projects and street improvements in the Old Town Area as design prototypes. The panel concluded its recommendations by suggesting that the capacity and expertise of the City staff be improved and augmented to facilitate implementation of these efforts.