Bright Lights, Bay City: Revitalization In The Sparkling City By The Sea

Since its discovery by Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda in 1519, Corpus Christi has lived a storied life. Looking out over the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi has long been an industrial intersection, a haven for the shipwrecked, a training site for the Navy’s pilots, and a true beach paradise for residents and visitors alike…a liminal space where worlds collide to form a geographical and cultural landscape of incomparable uniqueness and beauty.

Over the past 500 years, this coastal metropolis has evolved tremendously, shape-shifting from a tiny village to South Texas’ largest city. And, despite the occasional setbacks prompted by a shifting economy or hurricane-force winds, Corpus Christi always seems to bounce back, emulating those rising and falling waves that grace its sparkling shores.

This growth and development has never been more visible than it is today. It seems Corpus has kicked into high gear, working tirelessly to launch itself into greatness and foreshadowing an even brighter future for “the sparkling city by the sea.”

With some help from long-time resident Kim Erwin (a KW Coastal Bend agent), we’ve compiled a list of just a few of the top reasons Corpus Christi is the next big thing!

Reinvisioning Downtown

“The heart of almost any city is its downtown and revitalization.” Wise words from Kim Erwin. “I see [downtown] as being strong and healthy,” she commented. “How many cities have a bayfront, a barrier island, and a revitalization movement downtown?”

She’s absolutely right. This combination is a rare triple-threat, and one Corpus Christi shows off well. Amidst the shiny new downtown high-rises, historic buildings are finding new life as trendy and innovative restaurants, bars, and venues…revamping this urban bayside gem.

Image courtesy of The Gold Fish Instagram page

Take The Gold Fish, for example. In 2017, Corpus Christi resident Robert Cooper made a bold move. He bought an old 1900s gas station on North Mesquite Street (just blocks away from the downtown marina), and renovated it nearly beyond recognition. In the fall of that year, he introduced The Gold Fish: a patio bar featuring craft cocktails and an unbeatable rustic, Mediterranean-villa atmosphere. What once was an empty, boarded-up building is now one of downtown’s most popular spots. Corpus Christians and visitors fell in love…and it didn’t take long for The Gold Fish to become a new hot spot and earn national attention on CNN Travel.

Image courtesy of the BUS Instagram page

Just around the corner, several clever Corpus Christi business folks saw potential in a commonplace Greyhound Bus Station and converted it into yet another crowd-drawing bar. BUS (Bar Under the Sun) is a family-friendly, pet-friendly patio bar with a trendy, laid-back atmosphere. Every day, the patio features a handful of uniquely Corpus food trucks, ensuring the menu at BUS is always fresh and exciting! Since it’s Grand Opening in March of 2018, BUS has featured dozens of food trucks, including local favorites like Lion’s Den, Jefe’s Mobile Cafe, TacoBar Street, and Hester’s.

The latest restoration project downtown? The Bay Jewel Event Center (with its 3,000 square foot ballroom) is gearing up to open its doors as a premier venue for weddings, parties, and business events…after nearly 30 years of being boarded up!

Intellect and Innovation

The entrepreneurial and revitalization trend sweeping through Corpus Christi is thanks in part to the constant influx of new people and ideas to the city, but also to the strong graduates from the city’s two top-notch universities.

While historically Corpus has suffered from the “Brain Drain” (where graduates earn their degree and move away), Erwin says that trend has reversed itself in recent years. “I think that our trend is looking really good right now,” she says. “We have two unbelievably excellent places to get a higher education or learn a trade. Look at Texas A&M and Del Mar College and the graduates they’re kicking out. A lot of them are staying.”

Image courtesy of Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi website

Located on the Gulf Coast, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has long been on the frontlines of oceanographic research and preservation, offering countless bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees across disciplines that prepare graduates to make positive impacts in the local and global communities.

Image courtesy of the Del Mar College Instagram page

For students looking to learn a trade and jump into the workforce, Del Mar College provides training and degrees across industries…and it’s not unusual for graduates to start at $60k or higher in the industrial job field! The school also boasts an impressive arts program, and graduates are at the forefront of Corpus Christi’s growing arts scene.

Growing Industry

Between petroleum, natural gas, manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, fishing, and naval aviation, Corpus Christi is the industrial hub of South Texas. And with last year’s announcement that industrial giant Exxon Mobil plans to build the world’s largest ethylene cracker plant in Portland, just over the bridge from Corpus Christi, opportunities are only growing.  

Booming Tourism Scene

Image courtesy of Fiesta de la Flor Instagram page

Jobs aren’t the only thing bringing people to Corpus! Our city’s calendar is filled-to-the-brim with festivals, tournaments, and shows that draw in droves of tourists (as well as revenue into the city’s restaurants, accommodations, and businesses). Fiesta de la Flor, the annual concert festival in honor of the Tejano Princess and Corpus Christi native Selena Quintanilla, generates serious money for the city in tourist activity ($15 million in 2017!).

Rising Real Estate Development

13562 Camino De Plata Court, Corpus Christi

Flour Bluff is exploding,” Erwin says. “Calallen has been steady, and Southside is exploding, too.” Why the sudden activity in these neighborhoods? Well, with all this exciting growth and revitalization, Corpus Christi is not just a vacation destination anymore. Instead, the city is gaining more attention as a prime spot for first-time homeowners as well as retirees.

“The number one American dream is to live by the water,” Erwin shares. And in Corpus Christi, waterfront living is magical in its affordability (and its out-of-this-world vistas). “In other places,” she says, “you can’t live on the water for these prices.” Corpus Christi has always been known for its lower cost of living, and fortunately, that is one trend that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

4609 Tuscan Way, Corpus Christi

“People who are relocating to the Corpus Christi area are buying a lifestyle,” Erwin emphasizes, referring to the palm-tree-lined, ocean-breeze-infused, “Island Time” mentality that spans beyond Padre Island and across the city. “They’re not buying Subdivision, USA.”

Corpus Christi is a hardworking city that loves to celebrate culture and knows how to have fun. And with the growth and revitalization trends kicking into gear, “the sparkling city by the sea” is only going to shine brighter.

Thinking of moving to Corpus Christi? Keller Williams is happy to help you get started. Check out our list of Coastal Bend communities that need to be on your radar, download our exclusive Buyer’s Guide, speak with a local lender, and contact an agent to help you make your dream home a reality.