PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

August 21, 2006

Plant expansions to create a housing boon

PA CoC searching for solutions

PORT ARTHUR — By Ashley Sanders

The News staff writer

Houston did it. The sleepy college city of Bryan did it too.

Countless Texas towns and metro areas have revitalized their dilapidated downtown areas with loft suites and upscale housing. And the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is hoping an upcoming housing boon could revitalize the city’s once enchanting downtown.

With more than 18,000 workers needed over the next four to six years to complete industrial expansion projects across the city, Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce President Verna Rutherford is optimistic that some real estate developers might pave the way for a new, trendy Procter Street area.

“This is the only seed I will plant,” Rutherford told a crowd of industry leaders and real estate developers Monday at the Housing and Lodging Initiative meeting held at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. “A good spring board idea would be to develop lofts downtown. What could be a better view than looking out at the water every morning?”

Just an idea that she was throwing out for consideration, Rutherford said the chamber is wanting to help any real estate developer, apartment owner or hotel proprietor pair up with a local industry group to make future housing plans for the influx of workers expected to start arriving in Port Arthur in 2007.

Expansions, new projects take flight

Opening up Monday’s informal meeting with a warm welcome to both the industry groups and real estate representatives, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Bob Morgan told the crowd that it was “heartening” to see the kind of growth expected for Port Arthur.

“I have not seen anything like this in the history of Port Arthur,” Morgan said of the five refineries and chemical plants looking to make additional roots in the city.

Taking a few hours out of their day, representatives from area plants talked with real estate agents and housing companies during the meeting — each industry leader laying out the framework of their future project and the workforce requirements necessary to complete the job.

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