PAEDC working on downtown housing

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Voters approved single-family housing to be built downtown for the May 2016 General Election. The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, the city of Port Arthur and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are carrying through with the program.

The PAEDC Board of Directors approved at their partnering with the city of Port Arthur’s Community Development Department to engage JQUAD Planning Group to develop a Downtown Target Area Housing Plan in an amount not to exceed $5,000.

Ron Burton, planning and zoning director for the city, said the different entities are pulling their resources together and meet biweekly.

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Lots are available downtown through either HUD, Community Development Block Grants or the Texas General Land Office.

“This is an opportunity for a comprehensive plan that can be replicated in other parts of the city in the future,” Burton said. “We need to develop the infrastructure for the development of the houses.”

“It will cost $24,960 for a consolidated plan to be put forward to propose to HUD. This is a targeted approach to housing.”

A letter from the company read the plan will include a focused analysis of the down target areas as part of an effort to develop 60 single family housing units, 10 each

year for six years, supported by City and EDC funding.

Burton said whatever the city can contribute will reduce construction costs, make the area as marketable as possible and raise the value of the properties.

Also related to downtown housing, the board approved entering into an agreement with Legacy Community Development Corp. not to exceed $30,000.

Guy Goodson, PAEDC attorney, estimates a house would cost $130,000. A bank, however, would probably finance the house at $100,000 or less because there are no surrounding properties of value in downtown Port Arthur to compare them to and the buyer may have to collateralize for the house.

A resident, though, may not be able to afford the mortgage in the beginning and need the $30,000 from the PAEDC to finance the house.

“This would be a safe investment and a good start,” Goodson said. “We hope it’s a one-time deal and we get a qualified person in.”

Lastly, a request of $4,900 for funding from The Breeze radio station for advertising was approved by the board.

Floyd Batiste, executive director for the PAEDC, said the station has been funded by the PAEDC for the past four to five years for advertising.

“Now more than ever before we need the radio station,” he said. “It’s one of the sources to get the word out. There’s a lot of jobs in this community and this will maximize our efforts.”

Goodson said the PAEDC doesn’t have much money for advertising and The Breeze is another good opportunity for public service announcements or interviews to get the information out.

Krystle Villarreal, employment and training specialist for the PAEDC, said the job fair held last month at the Bob Bowers Civic Center went really well with a total of 828 job seekers, 432 of them Port Arthur residents.

Ingrid West Holmes, president of the board, said Villarreal and the staff did a great job on the job fair particularly since this was the first one.

David Ball: 409-721-2427