Who Is Really To Blame For The 1914 Courthouse Deal Collapse?

Matt Briscoe

It’s seems like a good deal has gone sour over the old 1914 Nueces County Courthouse. Monday morning we woke to the news that the developer had not paid the $1.6 million back tax bill owed on the building, as the commissioners and the developer had agreed upon just a few short months ago. Now, that sounds like reason enough to cancel the deal, right? Well, let’s see.

Anybody looking at this could reasonably assume there was a breakdown of communication on both sides. Judge Neal and the commissioners felt the county, city and citizens were getting shafted and that the developer was giving them the run around about paying the tax bill within the allotted time. That would be more than enough to get you hot under the collar. But hot enough to cancel the entire deal? I just don’t know about that.

Let’s think about this for a minute. The project was estimated to cost about $57 million. That’s a Hell of a lot of money with a Hell of a lot of moving parts.

You could imagine the developer had to have a letter of credit before he undertook this project. I’m sure that like with any deal the developer had to produce plenty of documentation to make the deal even begin to work.

I don’t know the details, but you could imagine that there were investors who had to do paperwork, banks had to organize participation loans and funding and no telling what else was involved. Most developers just do not have $1.6 million dollars lying around. It takes time and oftentimes, there has to be flexibility on the sellers part. Now, that might not be what real estate agents and title companies want to hear, but it’s true. No deal will ever truly be completed without good communication and flexibility on both parts.

Now, the county wants you to believe that there are buyers just busting the door down to buy the old courthouse. But is that really the case or did they Court cave into pressure from hotel operators like those at the Omni, the city’s only real hotel of any major class (which isn’t saying much) that could lose a Hell of a lot of business should another 4 Star come into town?

I guess we will never know the truth, but you have to ask yourself that question in order to remain objective.

Whatever the reason for the breakdown, it boils down to the developer not communicating well with the county and the county not communicating well with them. Plus, I’d imagine the title company or some over zealous agents had a hand in pressuring the county to pull the deal, too.  

Either way, who has really lost? The community. Why? Because we are stuck with another old building in the middle of downtown and the county only made $10,000 in earnest money on the deal. Hell, they likely spent that much or more in attorney fees.

So Corpus and Nueces County, sit back and relax and keep watching the building deteriorate until another buyer comes along or cooler heads prevail. We can always sell it a developer for more office space—like we need anymore of that crap while the powers that Be struggle to figure out where they are taking our sparkling little city by the sea.