Port Aransas on Mustang Island off Corpus Christi is home to Cinnamon Shore, one of the most beautiful coastal real estate developments in Texas. This area was an early scene of disaster after disaster that has happened in recent weeks, each event supplanting news coverage of the prior. We tapped Jeff Lamkin of Sea Oats Group, the project developer, for an update as to current conditions of this luxury vacation home destination.
The bad news is the town of Port Aransas took a beating from Hurricane Harvey — no question. But the good news is these coastal dwellers are tough, the community has come together, critical businesses are reopening, and recovery is underway. Cinnamon Shore itself, situated south of the central area of the town, sustained minimal damage and has repaired what little there was. Read on for details and learn why this season might just be the best time to visit “Port A,” as locals call it:
Port Aransas Town Damage
Port Aransas experienced huge devastation caused by the Category Four storm Hurricane Harvey in the last week of August. “The hurricane came in in the worst possible way — through the Bay, flooding the town, which has a six-foot base elevation,” said Lamkin.
Nearly all of the town’s 3,000 to 4,000 permanent residents lost power, water, and telephone services, and 70 percent (if not more) of the buildings were damaged by flooding and 130 mph winds. With the storm behind them, residents and businesses have begun what will be a long process of debris removal and rebuilding.
“There was potable water again in a week to 10 days and cable, telephone, and internet back within two weeks [after the storm],”said Lamkin, “Flood water has now drained. The roads are passable. Gas stations, the grocery store, and more than a dozen restaurants are open. School will reopen Oct. 16,” said Lamkin.
The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce and Cinnamon Shore itself have raised more than $500,000 in relief funds, partnering with five local churches to distribute money to cover expenses of those who have been displaced and lost jobs. The livelihood of this community is dependent on tourism.
“We’re celebrating every time another restaurant opens,” said Lamkin. “It’s a new day in Port A and it’s ours to define it,” is now the local slogan.
Cinnamon Shore’s Condition And Why It Fared Better Than Most In The Area
The Cinnamon Shore development is modeled after New Urbanism-style communities such as Seaside in the 30A area of the Florida Panhandle, and currently includes approximately 200 residences, a town center with pools, an internal lake, park space, and restaurants designed in Gulf Coast vernacular. Younger than much of the local construction, the project was initiated in 1999, with construction of new homes ongoing. It is in the midst of a $1.3 billion expansion, and was the setting for a Texas Monthly Showhouse this past summer. (You can find more detail about this on our posts July 2016; August 2016, and June 2017.)
Protective dunes along the coast shielded the development, but the property sustained minimal damage from the storm for a number of additional reasons:
- Height: The base elevation of Cinnamon Shore is nine to 11 feet higher than the six-foot elevation in town. Elevated foundations in Cinnamon Shore raises this base to 18 to 24 inches higher. Though there was some flooding in the community’s streets, homes weren’t flooded with water.
- Construction techniques and materials: Items such as Simpson tie-downs and Go-Bolt components used in home construction at Cinnamon Shore essentially strapped the foundation, roof and structure in between together. HardiePlank concrete siding, standing-seam metal roofs, and windows designed to withstand 140 mph winds provided weather resistance.
- Quick Response: “We took aggressive measures right away to protect homeowners,” said Lamkin of Cinnamon Shore’s post-Harvey actions. Management brought in 120 gas and diesel-powered generators to circulate air and prevent mold, and crews immediately to clean the beach and repair minor window, door, and roof damage. Structural engineers analyzed every home to ascertain there was no damage and residents were offered help,if needed, to make insurance claims. (Altogether, a testimonial as to how much stress and work homeowners can save themselves by going with a managed vacation home community.)
The gist of all this is Cinnamon Shore is a lovely option now for a coastal vacation, especially if you’re a fan of wide-open, uncrowded beaches. Three- and four-bedroom vacation rental homes are available now through Cinnamon Shore at off-season rates beginning at $450 per night in October, $350 in November for a three-bedroom, 1,600-square foot home, ranging up to $1,300/$1,200 for a five-bedroom. “Streets are drivable, there are gas stations, restaurants and bars open. Our beach is raked and manicured and prettier than it has ever been,” said Lamkin.
Along with this, there’s feel-good karma attached with helping the area recover. Don’t misunderstand. Money and workers to clear debris are still needed. But, for those so inclined, one of the best ways you can help is to come to the area to vacation. Port Aransas depends on tourism. Seeing visitors come back is essential to the locals’ morale and sense of well-being.
Post-interview of Jeff Lamkin, we connected with North Texas local Jon Bonnell, the chef/owner of Fort Worth’s acclaimed restaurant Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine. Bonnell had just returned from a trip to Port Aransas where he had volunteered to provide food for anyone that needed it. He stayed at Cinnamon Shore during his visit and attests to its good condition.
“Cinnamon Shore was outstanding and most of the complex is in great shape. The beaches are immaculate, the water is perfect, the pools at Cinnamon Shore are clean and perfect,” he noted. “We had an incredible time staying there. I hope people will take a vacation to Port A, support the local restaurants that are back open, book a fishing boat and just help the locals get back to some sense of normalcy. It will be heartbreaking to see, but worth the effort. You can rent a golf cart and drive form Cinnamon Shore to town right on the beach. Port A needs visitors again.”