ROBSTOWN — With the ground breaking of The Outlets of Corpus Christi Bay, the entire Coastal Bend area will wait in anticipation for what developers are calling, the greatest outlet mall in Texas.

Phase 1 of the Outlet mall plan has been enlarged from 290,000 square feet to 330,000 square feet, because of the overwhelming amount of interest shown in the project by retail stories, according to project manager Rick Carduner with Dolphin Ventures LLC.

Carduner and his partners, Linda Wagner and Peter Edelmann were at the ground breaking ceremony with fellow investors Peter Lockard and Robert Smith of Lockard Companies. Also in attendance were members of the Robstown City Council, the area development team, and members of the Nueces County Commissioners Court, Corpus Christi City Council members and Mayor Nelda Martinez along with Alice Mayor Larry Martinez and city staff.

“It’s a tremendous, historic day for Robstown and the surrounding area...,” State Rep. Abel Herrero said. “It is a tremendous feeling, as a resident of the surrounding area to know that when you believe in something and work hard towards it, that everything is possible.”

Robstown Mayor Rodrigo Ramon said the outlet mall will rival in size compared to San Marcos and New Branfuels.

“When they started they were small communities, they developed into large tourist communities. Hopefully that will happen in Robstown. Currently with the assessments, the traffic count, the destination point being Corpus Christi, it’s a great deal for tourists,” Ramon said.

Ramon said of the approximately $100 million investment, the city was putting in an incentive package of $24 million, made up of ad valorem taxes and future sales tax, with nothing coming out of residents’ pockets.

With 7 million tourists coming in to the Corpus Christi area, the beaches and other attractions, the traffic showed that Robstown would be the best site, Carduner said, and the county at that time had just completed construction of a new fairground complex, which had an additional 50 acre site positioned right off the highway.

Carduner gave credit to Ramon, the Robstown City Council and the city staff for continuing to work on the project through the years.

“We’re grateful for their help and creativity. By the fall of 2014, we will be 100 percent leased,” Carduner said.

Smith, with Lockard Companies, came in midstream in the process, providing the much needed financing for the project. He said the project matches closely with the companies mission, which is improving the quality of life for residents where they operate.

“When we came into this project, the question we asked ourselves was, was there community support and are they able to rally around the project? By the show of support..., the answer is a resounding yes,” Smith said.

He praised local leadership as they showed true loyalty to the community as servant leaders. Smith called it a blessing, and said the project overall is bolstered by the great things happening in the community.

Nueces County Commissioner Mike Pusley said it is wonderful that the northwest residents and the residents of Robstown will now have something close by for their shopping needs.

“We’re very excited about it. THis is just a seed, which will result in a lot more growth in this area,” Pusley said. “We are already looking at infrastructure needs we are going to have to take care of in this area to support that growth.”

The Outlets of Corpus Christi Bay is expected to be completed in late 2014, and will contain retail component with fashion, shoes and stores of other apparel related items, as well as restaurants, hotels and a possible residential component. Over the next six to eight weeks, architects and engineers will be drawing up detailed plans for the site, before the project goes out to bid in the fall.

Also in attendance were officials with the City of Alice, who are situated just 25 miles from Robstown.

“One thing that is important to note, when something happens that is good in one of our cities in the Coastal Bend, it’s good for the entire Coastal Bend,” Alice City Manager Ray De Los Santos Jr. said. “That’s why it was important for us to be here, to celebrate with everyone who had worked on the project and congratulate them, because we know there is a give and take when it comes to jobs and in the economy. This is good for the entire region.”

Alice Mayor Larry Martinez said with both areas in such close proximity, it was important to reinforce those bonds as good neighbors.

“We need to partner with our next door neighbors and provide support for them,” Martinez said. “As a regional effort, they’ve always supported us and we support them. Between Jim Wells County and Nueces County, there is a strong bond and it’s important to be good neighbors. It’s vital for both of our communities.”