On an enviable one-mile stretch of the Texas Gulf Coast, on Mustang Island near Port Aransas, pastel-hued cottages and townhomes, most with waterfront views of the beach or Corpus Christi Bay, sit surrounded by dunes and linked by boardwalks and walking trails that seamlessly feed into community spaces and parks. This picturesque, master-planned site is Cinnamon Shore, a 300-home, walkable, family-friendly, beachfront community where front porches foster friendships and the town center serves as a social gathering place.
The brain behind this Normal Rockwell-esque vision is Jeff Lamkin, a serial entrepreneur who founded and sold several companies before venturing into land development. Cinnamon Shore is based on his ideas of new urbanism, and he’s now carrying out a $2 billion expansion plan to build on the site’s success with more amenities, residential spaces, and retail projects. “We are designing a community that reduces its carbon footprint because residents can walk, ride bikes, or drive beach buggies to get around,” says Lamkin, CEO of Sea Oats Group, which owns Cinnamon Shore. “It’s a balanced mix of higher-density areas and open community spaces.”
Lamkin’s interpretation of new urbanism hinges on a healthy ratio of “rooftops to retail.” “It’s a slow, steady project where we are managing the supply and demand so that we don’t overbuild, we protect real estate values, and let the market naturally absorb resales and new builds,” Lamkin says. Here’s a closer look at his 20-year expansion plan for Cinnamon Shore and how its new amenities fit Sea Oats Group’s overall approach to coastal real estate in Texas.
New Housing Concepts for Millennials
Future residential development will aim to attract more millennials with prototype beach vacation homes designed to appeal to their sense of community. “We are basing the concept on third-place environments,” Lamkin says, “more intentional community spaces where people gather and hang out.”
Cinnamon Shore will also gain more residential beachfront apartments and single-family homes that will draw curb appeal from their timeless architecture and neighbor-friendly front porches. “We are intentional about building family and community in a place where you can slow down,” Lamkin says. “We are not a resort town, although it looks and feels like it. We are really a beach village, where you come together as a small community and hang out.”
Destination-Worthy Retail Space
Lamkin is developing an additional 15,000 square feet of retail space around the Cinnamon Shore town center. Lamkin hopes to attract design professionals to set up offices and retail storefronts that will cater to homeowners and vacationers. “We have great retail spaces for furniture, home décor accessories, and art galleries,” Lamkin says. “We are working against the homogenization of society, so all of our retail will be independently owned and authentic.”
A market and a liquor store will open this summer, and new restaurants are under construction, including a private dining room and pizza parlor. Commercial development will also include a new a luxury spa and an 18-room boutique hotel. “We will break ground in nine months on the boutique hotel, and I’m looking for an operator or partner to run the hotel that is not a major hotel chain,” Lamkin says, adding that Cinnamon Shore is also positioning itself to host destination weddings, with plans for a chapel and wedding barns.
Natural and New Amenities
A big challenge for Lamkin, given Cinnamon Shore’s rare stretch of beachfront property, is to balance the promotion and protection of the community’s natural amenities. “We are really responsible about doing things that are eco-friendly and economically realistic,” says Lamkin, who purchased the land for Cinnamon Shore in 2007. “There is a very limited supply of Texas beachfront that can be developed because 86 percent of the Texas coast is environmentally protected. Nearly 30 million people live within a six-hour drive of Cinnamon Shore. Until our development, many had to travel to Florida for a world-class beach vacation.”
There are, therefore, plans to expand the community’s green spaces and trails. And, one of Cinnamon Shore’s marquee amenities will be a large pool built on an island in the middle of a 30-acre lake near the bay.
Growth Guided by Community and Family
The cultivated sense of community at Cinnamon Shore spills over into neighboring areas, including the town of Port Aransas, which suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Harvey. Cinnamon Shore, through its website, is raising funds to help the town’s residents and businesses repair and recover. “The town was totally devastated, according to the mayor,” Lamkin says. “We have a little survivor’s remorse. We are putting a lot of our energy into helping the town.”
Neighbor looking out for neighbor and a strong community built on family values and togetherness are the hallmarks of Cinnamon Shore’s success and will continue guiding its future growth. “Cinnamon Shore is a legacy project that I want to pass on to my son to run one day,” Lamkin says. “We are trying to do something that we are proud of today and that my grandkids will be proud of in the future.”
Photos: Shannon Lafayette Photography