The developer for a proposed outlet mall in Robstown will be seeking a two-year extension on the site's purchasing agreement, potentially delaying the project's completion until 2014, at least.
Rick Carduner, president of Dolphin Ventures I LLC, said he and his fellow investors will be seeking the two-year extension due to an ongoing struggle to find banks willing to lend money for the $120 million Outlets at Corpus Christi Bay project.
"I don't know what else to say - it's the same problem we've been facing the last two years," he said.
The extension would move the new deadline to late 2013, meaning construction on the project would not be completed until sometime in 2014.
Carduner has said nearly 80 percent of the spaces available for leasing at the outlet mall have been spoken for by potential tenants, but no leases have been signed, as of yet.
The mall would be built on 50 acres of Nueces County-owned land adjacent to the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown. A "Coming Soon" sign was erected earlier this year in front of the property designated for the outlet mall.
Precinct 3 County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz said last week that he had been informed of the developers' desire to extend the agreement, and that he would support the motion. However, he expressed some reluctance at the proposed length of the extension.
"I'm not sure two years is the right amount of time," Ortiz said. "But we don't have anyone else (interested in the property), so why not give them the extension?"
County Judge Loyd Neal also said he is still willing to grant the developers' request for an extension, adding that he is aware the project has had trouble gaining funding for its construction.
"I'm fine with this - they keep telling me they have a large number of lessees, but no money from lenders," Neal said.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Pusley said he would support the extension, but added he would like the county to take another look at the project's feasibility following this latest request from the developer.
"I think at some point, we're going to have to look at the true viability of the project and whether it will ever go forward," Pusley said. "I may support one more (extension), but I'm not sure I would support anything past that. You just can't keep extending, extending, extending - that's just not the way you do business."
Carduner said Dolphin Ventures is exploring alternative ways of securing financing for the project, including through an immigrant investor, or EB-5, program.
The program allows for foreign investors who provide a $500,000 to $1 million investment in a commercial enterprise that will employ at least 10 full-time U.S. workers to obtain permanent residence status in the United States.
The required investment amount is dependent on whether the site of the new or existing enterprise is located in a rural area or an area with high unemployment, according the Klasko Immigration and Nationality Law Web site.
Carduner said discussions have taken place between the developer and the Robstown Improvement Development Corp. on potential partnerships for the EB-5 program, as the RIDC has submitted an application to the federal government looking to form an EB-5 Regional Center in Robstown.
The proposed extension for the outlet mall project is tentatively scheduled to be up for consideration during the Dec. 1 meeting of the Nueces County Commissioners Court.