The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
It’s been going on three years since the Port Arthur officials announced plans to upgrade the downtown pavilion, and now, after considerable changes to the project’s scope and financing, construction has finally started.
Initially, the retrofitting project was bid for $940,000 , and was to be partially funded with $390,000 in Economic Development Corporation dollars. After it was established the upgrades did not meet criteria for the EDC’s allowable expenditures because the pavilion was located on city property, the project became the city’s responsibility.
Since then, the EDC has determined it could contribute $357,696 in promotional funds to make the upgrades, albeit they have been scaled back considerably from what was originally planned.
“The law allows us to use promotional dollars for new or expanding businesses. By retrofitting the pavilion, it will provide opportunities for new or expanded businesses to come to town,” Floyd Batiste, EDC director, said.
Assistant City Manager John Comeaux said the city is spending about $200,000 on what are largely cosmetic changes, including a new facade with decorative panels and a dedicated stage.
“This will give a whole new look to the city’s downtown,” Comeaux said.
The renovation has been significantly scaled back from original plans to feature three marquees and roll up doors, vented louvers, exterior neon and LED lighting and a retro facade.
Construction started about three weeks ago, Thad Sanders, Port Arthur recreation coordinator, said.
The project is expected to take about four months to complete, and is part of the city’s efforts to revitalize downtown.
“We need a new venue downtown,” Deloris “Bobbie” Prince, Port Arthur mayor, said. “If we are going to continue to revitalize the downtown, we have to have something to encourage people to come downtown.”
Historically, the pavilion is used for concerts, family reunions, and festivals, including Mardi Gras.