PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

August 16, 2013

Port Neches gives OK to Wheelhouse

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

PORT NECHES — After months of discussion, Port Neches City Council unanimously approved two issues that pave the way for the construction of the Wheelhouse restaurant along the riverfront on Thursday.

Council approved both the terms and conditions, which lists 15 issues that protect the city’s investment in the future as well as the purchase and sale agreement between the City of Port Neches, Port Neches Economic Development Corporation and Wheelhouse LLC.

Pending approval of the PNEDC during a meeting on Monday, the city will convey the property to the PNEDC as per government code then sell the 2.5 acres of land for $1.

“We are excited to be moving forward and are pleased with the terms and conditions,” Bert Lamson, a member of the group of investors and owner an architectural design firm, said.

The price tag comes with a set of terms and conditions, some of which include: LLC’s construction costs will be in excess of $600,000 in improvements with furniture, fixtures and equipment being estimated at $200,000 to develop the property, the city/EDC receives either first or second lien on the property depending on the type of financing obtained by LLC. The property will revert back to the city free and clear if all terms and conditions are not met.

The city has the right of first refusal on the 1.25 acres adjacent and contiguous to the property for five years and the city/edc will maintain ownership of the waterfront while the LLC shall have the 30-foot setback, or easement. The property comes with zoning and deed restrictions which shall limit the usage of the property to a restaurant while the zoning restrictions will be amended or changed to business medium.

The LLC, comprised of a group of local investors, must operate the restaurant for five years, plus any tolling periods and afterward the LLC will be free to sell the property. If the business shuts down or sells or does not met the requirements the city has the right to first refusal to purchase the property for $1 with the city also receiving personal guarantees from each shareholder for any or all bank loans.

IF the LLC sells the property less than five years after opening plus any tolling periods, the city shall receive $500,000 of the sales proceeds for compensation for the land minus property and sales taxes paid.

Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson thanked the residents who had come out to the meetings to discuss the issue, saying they their questions helped city council brain storm the issue.

“I really appreciate you being ere and raising questions,” Johnson said. “This is what democracy is about.”

Johnson also thanked City Manager Andrè Wimer and the Jesse Branick who acted as the city’s legal counsel for the issue.

“There are things we didn’t think to ask,” he said. “Al that was asked and questions raised helped educate every one of us.”

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews