Downtown Port Arthur homes draw a crowd

Published 2:25 pm Monday, January 7, 2019

By Ken Stickney

As many as 100 potential buyers were expected to tour four homes — three are new — in downtown Port Arthur on Friday, part of the city’s continuing effort to lure population to the area.

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Vivian Ballou, executive director of Legacy Community Development Corp., said 100 viewers might be enough to make four buyers for the properties, which are three-bed, two-bath homes on spacious lots.

Legacy is teaming with the Port Arthur Economic Development Corp. and the city in building the new neighborhood, which will stretch from Fifth to Seventh Street and Nashville to Atlanta Avenue. That’s within easy walking distance to Lamar State College Port Arthur, the Museum of the Gulf Coast, City Hall and the 501 Building.

Ballou said the next phase of the development project would include building five homes on Fifth Street. Later, the community housing development organization will build more homes on Sixth, near recently completed St. Mary’s Park.

Homes shown Friday afternoon were on land that formerly housed St. Mary’s Catholic Church. When the Diocese of Beaumont merged St. Mary’s with Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the property was sold first to another non-profit and then to Legacy.

Ballou said eventually Legacy will develop 30 homes in the neighborhood over three years, then might add another 30 if the development program thrives. She said the homes are ideally suited for working families of low or moderate income, but anyone can buy them.

“It’s designed to be a mixed-income community,” she said.

Families with low or medium income may qualify for financial incentives to help buy the homes, which can provide a substantial part of the down payment. The homes are starting around $135,000, but she said similar homes by the same builder are selling for more than $200,000 in other, nearby communities.

The brick homes include tile flooring, granite countertops and walk-in closets.

The city of Port Arthur Planning Department has said some homeowners who obtain buyouts, post Hurricane Harvey, might qualify to move into and finance the new homes.

Dexter Phillip, a case manager for Spindletop Center, was on site to talk with viewers about mental health programs for post-traumatic stress disorders related to Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey.