Fanny S. Chirinos Reports: Buyer of Port of Corpus Christi land has until Friday to pay $50K

For immediate release: Nov 10, 2010

 — Leon Heron, the developer wanting to buy 918 acres in Ingleside, has until the end of day Friday to pay the Port of Corpus Christi $50,000 or forfeit his option on the land.

Many prospective tenants have expressed interest in the property, but none have made offers, Heron told port commissioners Tuesday. The lack of commitment has caused concerns among his investors.

Heron, a Tennessee developer and cattleman, plans to redevelop the former Naval Station Ingleside and 433 adjacent acres into a research and development, light industrial mixed-use facility.

Commissioners on Tuesday extended Heron’s deadline for putting $5 million in escrow until Dec. 13, but he still has Friday’s deadline. Should he fail to pay the $50,000, the port would contemplate other offers, said John LaRue, the port’s executive director.

“I’m reasonably confident I’ll have that money,” Heron said after the meeting. “We’ll risk the $50,000 to have another 30 days to produce some letters of intent.”

LaRue said he hopes a deal with Heron can be finalized by the end of January.

Heron said there has been a good deal of interest on the property, but prospective tenants haven’t committed for two reasons: the property has not been marketed well and many potential tenants depend on state and federal funding, which hasn’t been available recently.

The task of promoting the site belongs to the Texas A&M University System, which was hired in April 2009 as the port’s master developer. Heron and LaRue said there had been communication issues earlier this year, but those seemed to have been resolved