Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tortuga Dunes Project; Bad For Turtles, Bad For Dunes!!


Tortuga Dunes Project Destroys Sand Dunes



A new development has begun on Padre Island and it is off to a bad start.
The project has actively destroyed many sand dunes on the development property. According to news reports they have permits to do so but this seems directly in contradiction to the Dunes Protection Act.
The project director Barrett Allison says they are not destroying the dunes but “restoring them.” A rather dubious claim. This is a poor practice to allow. If every developer in the future has the ability to destroy sand dunes and then “restore” them it will mean the destruction of the natural habitat and the sand dunes. This will lead to increased beach erosion and more rapid dune deplenishment.
The $200 million resort, Tortuga Dunes, is being created near Zahn Road on the island.
This is planned as a high end (which means no po’ folks wanted) resort and an exclusive gated community.
This is the kind of thing that makes mayors and other elected officials plumb giddy! They see money, money, money and they hope some of it will find its way into the city or county coffers. They often imply that property taxes will go down and local school boards will have all of their money problems taken care of because of the new taxable properties.
It doesn’t always work out that way though. Sometimes so many tax abatements and TIF designations and other breaks are showered on such a project that these benefits for local taxing entities may never materialize to the point projected.
The developer is a company by the name of Forestar Real Estate Group, which is part of Temple Inland Company.
Temple Inland is a Fortune 400 company which specializes in forestry, banks and investments, and real estate development.
According to the company’s profile, Forestar spun off from Temple-Inland in 2006 and became one of the largest publicly-traded development companies in the country. (source: Wikipedia)
Below: Wikipedia entry for Forestar and associated companies

Temple-Inland, Inc. NYSE: TIN is an American paper, building products and financial services company based in Austin, Texas. It has approximately 19,500 employees. Its paper group operates under the name Inland Paperboard and Packaging Group, its building products group under the name Temple-Inland Forest Products, and its financial services group under the name Guaranty Financial Services.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have identified Temple–Inland as the 24th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States.[1] Major pollutants reported by the study included acrolein, manganese compounds, sulfuric acid, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde.[2]

Here is a report from Bill Churchwell, aired on local Channel 3 KIII-TV News
$200-million development planned for The Island
Gated community along Zahn Road to be the first new beachfront construction on North Padre in two decades
February 8, 2008
There's been some new developments in the aftermath of a story you saw here earlier this week on Tortuga Dunes, a 200 million dollar resort project going up. Island residents are concerned about crews cutting into the vegetation and several dunes. We checked it out for ourselves and it's clear to see construction crews going right up to the vegetation line. County regulations are supposed to keep the project from building any homes or condos 350 feet from the line. So whats going on? Project manager Barrett Allison says what people are seeing is not the destruction of the dunes, but the restoration of them. The project manager says when they are done, the dunes will be 20-30 feet high and new vegetation will be added. Allison says, "I think once people see it and realize the extent we've gone to protect the environment and the beach setting, its probably going to become a standard in the regulatory for folks minds down there in Nueces County and the city of Corpus on how to do it right."
It will take crews three months to finish the restoration of the dunes. Construction on Tortuga Dunes is expected to begin this summer.

Below is info from a web site for Forestar.
http://www.tortugadunes.com/news_releases.php

A publicly-traded real estate development company has announced plans to build a 146-acre gated community on Zahn Road near the north Packery jetty with landscape work set to begin in early 2008, construction set to begin in the summer of 2008 and completion in the spring of 2009.
The project will be named Tortuga Dunes and will include 139 villa home sties and approximately 97 luxury townhomes and condos. It will also include a pool and clubhouse, 37,000 square feet of retail space, and a walkover to take residents from the development over the dunes to the beach.
The total acreage of the tract is 146 acres with development on only 30 acres. The remainder of the acreage will be preserved as a wetland area with conservation and education programs.
The development is being done by the Forestar Real Estate Group which is a Temple Inland Company. Temple Inland is a Fortune 400 company which specializes in forestry, banks and investments, and real estate development.
According to the company’s profile, Forestar spun off from Temple-Inland in 2006 and became one of the largest publicly-traded development companies in the country. It trades on the NYSE under the symbol FOR. According to the NYSE website the company’s stock has traded between $20-$25 for the past year.
Forestar currently has one-hundred development projects located in twelve markets spread across nine states. They currently have large holdings around Atlanta as well as projects in Austin and Houston.
Plans call for the architecture in the Tortuga Dunes project to feature a theme derived from Caribbean and West Indies designs. Roofs will be of hipped or gabled varieties with cantilevered balconies and enclosed side yards.
Streets will be designed to be pedestrian friendly with view corridors. There will also be parks embedded in the design. Lot sizes will vary between fifty and sixty feet in width.
The company estimates the development will bring more than $200 million in added tax base and infrastructure to the Island economy.
Once the development is complete and all the units are sold the estimated annual tax revenue to local entities is $4.5 million with the bulk of that, $10.6 million going to the Flour Bluff ISD, $5.6 to the city of Corpus Christi and $3.5 to Nueces County.
The development was done without tax incentives from any of the taxing entities involved and is not expected to effect vehicular passage along the beach.
According to documents supplied by Forestar the company picked North Padre for the development after looking at coastal property from Galveston to South Padre.
Other partners in the project include: Watermark Land from Houston, Environmental and Planning Associates of Austin, land planning by Bosse & Turner of Austin, engineering by Naismith Engineering of Corpus Christi, Landscaping by Keith Morrow at Wilson Miller of Naples, Florida, and sales by Kuper Sotheby’s of San Antonio.
The site is located across Zahn Road from the recently constructed boat ramp and the planned city park. A welcome center is currently located at the site.
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A Sizzling Market on America's 'Third Coast'
The Wall Street Journal
By Julie Bennett
October 10th 2007
"We've designed a high-end coastal community surrounded by a lagoon system. You can walk out your back door, get into your boat, and zip straight into the Gulf of Mexico."
Second-home buyers priced out of the East and West Coast housing markets are discovering an affordable "Third Coast," the 367-mile Texas coastline on the Gulf of Mexico.
The area is so hot that buyers are snapping up condos and single-family lots on the state's barrier islands and near it's fishing villages long before the units are built or the lots are available.
Dr. James Gaines, research economist at the Real Estate Center of Texas A&M University in College Station, says the state's evolving popularity reminds him of the Georgia and South Carolina coastlines in the 1970s, "when buying there was still affordable." Today, he says, you have to pay over $1 million for a seaside cottage there and $2 million to $3 million for oceanfront property in Florida or California. In Texas, you can still buy a lot or a condo on the water for around $300,000. If you can find them, that is.