Since I entered the Commercial Real Estate field in 1984, I have heard, “Well, things are booming everywhere, maybe it’s time for Corpus Christi.” Well, Corpus has never boomed but just kept on gradually growing and being a nice place to vacation. That is, until recently, with the Eagle Ford Shale windfall embracing South Texas. Now, Corpus Christi has unprecedented expansion in jobs related to the energy industry and it is changing into a manufacturing center of the future. For example:
An Italian company, M&G Group, purchased a 413 acre tract in the Port of Corpus Christi’s inner harbor on the ship channel to build a PET resin plant. It is expected to open in 2015, employ 220 full time employees with a $751 million payroll. Development will create 3,000 construction jobs.
Occidental Petroleum has purchased the Ingleside Naval Base with over 915 acres along Corpus ChristiBay. OXY intends on a long term development plan with the first phase as a liquefied petroleum gas loading facility. Then possibly later a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility. Ultimate investment could exceed $1 billion and support over 200 jobs.
Cheniere Energy has purchased a 1,000 acre site on Corpus ChristiBay for an LNG plant, which would cost over $1 billion to develop and support hundreds of jobs. The permit must first be approved by the Federal government before construction can begin. The site has berths for the Post PanaMax class vessel, the classification for some of the largest ships in the industry.
TPCO America has broken ground on a $1 billion pipe manufacturing mill in Gregory, near Corpus Christi. Despite its name, it is one of the largest single Chinese investments in an American manufacturing facility. It will employ 800 workers mixing recycled scrap steel with iron to produce seamless steel pipes to meet the booming demand by the oil and gas industry. Eventually, as production grows they expect to export their pipe products.
Voelstalpine, an Austrian steelmaker, is planning a $700 million iron ore processing facility to open in 2016 and employ 150.
You may know that the Panama Canal is undergoing huge expansion and in 2015 will be able to accommodate ships 2.5 times larger than the current vessel. This will transform all global shipping but U.S. ports must be deepened to at least 50 feet to accommodate these ships. New York, Miami, Baltimore, Norfolk and Savannah are working on this. Corpus’ geography is perfect for conversion to a mega-port for the New PanaMax class of ships with the channel to be deepened to 52 feet. The payoff could be enormous for Texas to develop another major port facility.
All of this manufacturing growth spills over into hospitality, retail and residential growth, too, as service industries grow to meet the new demand. For instance, Corpus leads Texas in apartment occupancy at 95.5%. Additionally, San Antonio developer, Rick Carduner, is breaking ground on a new 250,000 SF outlet mall in Robstown. So, Corpus Christi is now seeing the development and job growth that other Texas cities have experienced from the oil and gas bonanza of the Shale Boom.