Rockport-Fulton is in the midst of a renaissance that’s bubbling with activity, including commercial and residential development, new cultural venues, chic boutiques, restaurants, specialty food shops and resorts.
“In every storm there is a silver lining,” said Karen Mella, Realtor, RE/MAX Security Real Estate. “In the case of Hurricane Harvey, which landed in 2017, we’re moving ahead and experiencing a wonderful new momentum, lots of progress and an abundance of goodwill. That’s the silver lining. Almost everything is being built anew, from infrastructure to new housing and community gathering places. Growth is bringing in new businesses and residents, and we’re united like never before. The very spirit of our community is neighbor helping neighbor, strong and resilient. That’s who we’ve always been and who we will remain.”
Many of the new businesses and fresh faces are those of newcomers who had decided to move to Rockport-Fulton long before the storm.
“One young dynamic couple had bought property here pre-Harvey,” Mella said, “and they were totally undaunted by the storm. A month after it happened, they were launching a new business with a big ground breaking ceremony. The turnout was phenomenal with more than 50 people, from our mayors and commissioners to volunteers and chamber members.”
As Rockport-Fulton and Aransas County thrives, a new approach focusing on a sustainable future is creating new gathering spaces and cultural venues, attracting new businesses and construction of new housing for all tiers of buyers.
“We’re seeing quite a few savvy investors who are in various stages of helping us rebuild,” Mella said. “One possibility is a 60-plus unit of affordable apartments in Fulton and approximately 80 units in Rockport. There are affordable housing developments, too. Some are starting to move dirt and some still remain in the planning phases. The bottom line is that the housing will help to bolster and support our workforce. The added bonus is that we’ll have more affordable housing than ever before.”
Condominium construction and upscale luxury communities are thriving, too.
“Key Allegro is a vacation-home destination on the water, situated between Rockport and Fulton,” Mella said. “In places where some of the older homes were destroyed in the storm, those lots have all been cleared and are ready for development. Other homes are being rebuilt or refurbished. And all around Aransas County, developers are seeking investment opportunities in housing. We’re in prime time when it comes to real estate.”
While new construction and rebuilding are boosting the economy, it’s the quality of life and new amenities that are generating even more excitement in this sparkling coastal community that’s flanked by miles of accessible bays and waterways.
“The harbor front has always been the heart and soul of our communities and fishing industry,” Mella said, “and that’s where many new businesses are gravitating. The Rockport Heritage and Cultural Arts District covers five blocks near the harbor, with artists, galleries, our beach park and maritime museum and the Rockport Center for the Arts. The Aransas County Navigation District is situated there, too.”
Three premier developments are serving as a magnet and centerpiece to attract investors and visitors, shaping the vision of a thriving community, and beckoning visitors to this laid-back vacation destination, by land and sea.
“The navigation district is dredging a deep-water marina on the south end of the waterfront to accommodate larger, luxury vessels,” Mella said. “And recent divisions of land along the waterfront have now added the potential for boutique hotels, restaurants and shopping. This is one of the developments that will spark downtown with new energy, events, and business.”
Next, the spotlight is shining on the performing arts and new public space, Mella noted.
“The Rockport Center for the Arts is well into a capital campaign to build and create a new multi-purpose campus, including a gallery, classrooms, performing arts and possible conference center. Potentially, it could host the Rockport Film Festival and performances by Rockport Little Theatre, which was displaced by the storm. Fortunately, the theater found a new home and remains vibrant. The curtains are rising with several new productions this year.”
The third exceptional bright spot that’s reuniting the community is the rebuilding of the Fulton Convention Center, affectionately named Paws and Taws, after the square dancers that originally performed there.
“It’s a huge waterfront facility, one that provides the location for many of our annual non-profits annual fundraisers and events. The facility will be expanded to 9,000 square feet compared to 7,000 before the storm,” Mella said.
“We’ve come a very long way and our rebuild continues,” she added. “It’s a new day and a new chapter in this beautiful place we love to call home.”