PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

July 11, 2013

PN to move forward with restaurant issue

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

PORT NECHES — The possibility of riverfront development in Port Neches is now one step closer to fruition.

Port Neches councilmembers met in closed session for almost one hour while discussing the proposed Neches River Wheelhouse Restaurant involving the city’s riverfront property on Thursday. Council unanimously agreed to retain legal council to develop the necessary documents to convey ownership of the property to the group of investors who have formed a limited liability corporation.

Any final approval by city council would be contingent upon the acceptance of terms and conditions by the restaurant group, Port Neches City Manager Andrè Wimer said.

The city owns approximately 80 acres of land along the river near Port Neches Riverfront Park. That land has sat dormant and off the tax rolls for about a decade. The restaurant group are eyeing a 3.75 acre piece of property adjacent to the boat ramps at the park. The restaurant they are proposing would be a 3,500-square-foot open-air facility open for lunch and dinner.

An appraisal of the portion of property the group is seeking reflects a value of about $220,000 per acre, Wimer said.

If successful, the project could be the catalyst for development of the riverfront property acreage. In order to protect the city’s interest should the project fail, verbiage will be included in contract specific to zoning which would control use of the property as well as deed restrictions and additional stipulations.

Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson called the issue a win-win for both the city and the investors, adding this is a great opportunity for riverfront development.

Bert Lamson, owner of Bert Lamson Design, brought the idea of The Wheelhouse restaurant before the Port Neches Riverfront Development Authority. Later, the group went before City Council with their presentation. Lamson and his group are bringing  some of their own money in to start the project.

Should the details be ironed out and a deal struck, council would transfer the property to the PNEDC, who in turn would turn the property over to the group for development.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews