Old Lamar school to become office space for city of Corpus Christi

Kathryn Cargo
Corpus Christi Caller Times

The old Lamar Elementary School is set to become office space for the city of Corpus Christi. 

During its regular meeting Tuesday, City Council approved a proposal to rezone the property at 2212 Morris St, near Crosstown Expressway and Agnes Street.

In October, the Planning Commission rejected a proposal to rezone the 2-acre property from a single-family district to an intensive commercial district with a special permit for a homeless shelter. 

The nonprofit Ed Rachal Foundation, which owns the former school, had proposed to invest at least $5 million in converting the vacant former school into a new 308-bed shelter for Good Samaritan Rescue Mission. 

In January, the Good Samaritan board of directors officially decided against moving to the old school. That came after several residents spoke at public meetings against the project, saying the neighborhood already has problems with crime. 

The foundation now plans to convert the former school into 50,000 square feet of space for city office operational staff and departments, including 30 members of the Corpus Christi Police Department. 

The Good Samaritan Rescue Mission has plans to turn the old Lamar Elementary School into a homeless shelter. The planning commission denied the zoning request and the City Council will decide the future of the shelter.

Paul Altheide, CEO of the foundation, hopes to have the building renovated and ready for the city in 18 months. The nonprofit will spend more than $4 million on the project. 

"The neighborhood should be substantially improved and the facility put back to good use," Altheide said. "Re-purposing that for city offices is going to be great."

The foundation will rent the space to the city for at least half of market rate. 

The Ed Rachal Foundation bought the school in May 2018 from the Corpus Christi Independent School District. 

The building has an appraised value of $1,657,507, according to the Nueces County Appraisal District. 

The foundation has already started working to add new lighting to several blocks surrounding the school and a speed bump on 19th Street to slow vehicle traffic. 

It has also bought more than a dozen properties around the school, including empty lots or dilapidated houses. These would be used for parking. 

In January, The Ed Rachal Foundation also gave the city a $50,000 grant to fund overtime for increased police presence in the neighborhood near the old school. The grant will fund increased enforcement of drug use and prostitution.

In his will dated June 2, 1964, the late Ed Rachal, a Rockport-born rancher, decreed that his estate be used to establish a foundation benefiting "charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes within the State of Texas." It was established July 29, 1965, after the deaths of Rachal and his wife, Louise.

The Ed Rachal Foundation's 990s show it derives most of its revenues from oil and gas royalties. Its net assets and fund balances at the end of 2017, the most updated record the Caller-Times could find, more than $520 million.

The Good Samaritan Rescue Mission has plans to turn the old Lamar Elementary School into a homeless shelter. The planning commission denied the zoning request and the City Council will decide the future of the shelter.

Kathryn Cargo follows business openings and developments while reporting on impacts of the city government’s decisions.See our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe.

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