Developers of a proposed outlet mall will now have an extra four acres to work into their design.

Nueces County Commissioners last week approved the sale of an additional 4.26 acres of fairgrounds property to Dolphin Ventures I, L.L.C. for $215,130, or $50,500 an acre, which is similar to when the developer purchased 45.135 acres in November for about $2.3 million.

A contract for the sale of the additional land should be presented to the court sometime in January, county officials said.

At a Nov. 27 meeting, during which the process for the sale of the 4.26 acres was approved, County Judge Loyd Neal was adamant that the county find a way to award a bid before the end of the year. It was assumed at the time that Dolphin Ventures would be the only bidder on the land, county officials said, and it was.

"The reason for that is we were afraid that if we waited until early next year to award this, the feasibility study would be delayed," Neal said. "The county has done everything it can to make sure this happens. Now the ball is in their court."

The developer has 120 days to complete the study after the sale of the land, Neal said. The $50 million to $65 million outlet mall is expected to provide a huge economic boost upon its completion, adding an estimated $2 million in property tax revenue to the city of Robstown and its school district.

"We would hope that they would want to move forward as quick as they can," he said.

The four acres in question are along Terry Shamsie Boulevard and adjacent to the 45 acres purchased by the developers. It had originally been designated on a county survey for the ESC to build an interactive children's museum.

However, Precinct 3 Commissioner Oscar Ortiz said last month that the court had never specifically promised that particular parcel of land to the ESC and that an alternative site would need to be considered.

Neal said last week that a 4.26 acre-piece of land near the Wells Fargo Bank building on East Main Avenue had been proposed to the ESC, but was turned down.

The county was originally going to donate 4.26 acres to the ESC, but the county attorney later informed commissioners that the land could only be leased or sold, not donated, Neal said.

The drawback to leasing the land is that anything built on it would be reverted back to the county when the lease expires, Ortiz said, which doesn't seem to be an attractive option for an organization looking to construct a multi-million dollar children's museum.

The county will continue to work with the ESC in order find a solution, county officials said.

Neal said he is happy to see that the outlet mall is closer to becoming a reality, which he and the commissioners have been working on diligently during the county judge's first year in office.

"To me, it's been an extremely busy and good year," Neal said. "The county has done some really great things."

Now, the county will just wait to see what the developer has in store now that the additional land has been purchased.

"I'm not sure if it's a home run yet, but we're on third base," Neal said.