In an Expansion Solutions Magazine article featuring
Freeport, Texas, I emphasized that ‘Freeport
Stayed Open for Business’, and to this day the
city is still open – despite the challenges of the
Covid-19 Pandemic and its effect on businesses.
The City of Freeport functions well and staffing
has not stopped. Although we the city faced many
challenges, business of all types continues to
operate, and opportunities are available to those
that want the opportunity to pursue Freeport.
Due to our location along the Gulf of Mexico
within the Houston MSA , the City of Freeport
continues to attract industrial companies looking
for a location in a community with a deep-water
port. To that end, Port Freeport is deepening its
channel to 56 feet and will allow larger Panamax
ships traveling from Asian markets through the
Panama Canal to access these facilities.
Freeport’s Gulf of Mexico location is one of the
deepest areas and highly accessible. Port Freeport
is rapidly expanding to take advantage of the new
market and has recently added a master-planned,
288-acre rail-served logistic park that is shovelready with soil stabilized and rail installed.
The City’s industrial base continues to grow
attracting thousands of highly qualified employees
to the industrial complexes; thus, the daytime
population within a few miles of downtown
mushrooms to well over 75,000 people. This is
boon for Freeport’s and surrounding cities, retailers
and restaurants, as they take advantage of the
success and expansion of its manufacturing base.
Investment of infrastructure continues to be a
priority with the Texas Department of Transportation
expanding Highway 36 into a four-lane highway
through Freeport to I-69, which is currently under
construction in certain segments. The bridge on
FM 1495 along the Brazos River into downtown
is scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt starting
at the end of this year. The former two-lane bridge
will be built into four lanes. These two projects that
connect will allow an easier transportation of goods
serving as an easier port and Brian Beach access.
What is not keeping pace with industrial growth…
is the development of housing and retail.
Freeport used to be known for its shrimping fleets;
however, over time along with fluctuations in the
economy the industry disappeared. Compounding
the loss of the shrimping industry, sister cities
along nearby highways grew along with their retail
businesses and new housing markets that were
traditionally located in Freeport.
Like any aging community that did not keep up with
the change in the economy eventually led to a loss of
retail development in Freeport’s downtown district
and to some degree on its major transportation
corridors. Fast forward from the robust days in the
1960 to now has shown a sharp decline in retail
throughout the city. There is no good reason for this
to have occurred due to the number of residents
and daytime population in Freeport, other than
who had a hand on the tiller guiding Freeport.
A change in leadership was requested by citizens
within the city demanding that Freeport change
and re-invent itself.
As of October 2019, the city council and the Freeport
Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) has
made a concerted effort in hiring staff experts in
their fields such as a new City Manager, Assistant
City Manager/Finance Director, a Professional
Economic Developer, HR Director and recently
Public Works Director to redevelop and enhance
the City with a concerted focus on the Downtown.
With that in mind, Freeport’s new city council started
hiring specialists to reshape the community. The
new city manager, various city staff, and economic
development executive director for the Freeport
Economic Development Corporation have made
great strides within that last 16 months to reverse
the course of Freeport’s retail decline and incentivize
Many housing developments and housing
rehabilitation projects with local builders are
underway, and the city is now attracting housing
developers from within the Houston MSA to find
locations to build new housing within Freeport.
In order to attract development downtown, the
FEDC approved a Business Improvement Grant in
five categories that focuses on the downtown district
to incentivize the development or revitalization
of existing businesses, as well as the attraction
of new business.
In a major effort to bring back retail to the downtown
district in December of 2019, the city approved a
500-acre, 50-percent Tax Increment Reinvestment
Zone that includes the downtown, Brazos River
and part of Hwy 288.
In June of 2020, after months of public meetings,
the city approved a new Downtown Zoning that
tripled its size and redrafted the code that will now
incentivize four-story, mixed-used developments.
It is the intent of the new Downtown to have retail
and some offices on the bottom floor with residential
live/work units on the upper floors.
The FEDC and the city are working towards a
Downtown Revitalization Plan that includes metrics
to rehabilitate the downtown beginning in the next
fiscal budget year. The Downtown Assessment
by Retail Strategies has been completed and was
presented at the FEDC board meeting on July
One of the main incentives for investment in Freeport
is our designated ‘Opportunity Zone’ and New
Market Tax Credit area that will allow developers
and business owners to offset their development
costs. The city will be requesting an expansion
from the State Texas for the Opportunity Zone and
NMTC into the downtown south of 2nd street as
this would be an added catalyst of funding sources
and incentives to tremendously revive Freeport.
The community’s concerted efforts are starting to
take effect as developers are touring downtown.
One new business operation has seen the vision
and is now under construction investing just under
$1 million to rehabilitate four buildings on East
Park with the intent of acquiring more buildings
for other retail venues.
There are other reasons why Redeveloping Freeport’s
Downtown is a great investment, but in the end,
Freeport wants its business to be successful and
gets the job done ‘together’.
If mixed-use development or retail is in your playbook
give us a call. We would be happy to show that you
can succeed here in Freeport, Texas.