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Airport development could hinge on Nederland City Council support

NEDERLAND — A commercial land developer with plans for approximately 50 acres of property near Jack Brooks Regional Airport would like a show of support from the Nederland City Council.

“What I would like to see is a vote, yea or nay, or even a show of hands if this city council wants Henry LaBrie to develop the airport or doesn’t want Henry LaBrie to develop the airport,” LaBrie said this week when addressing the council.

“This city council, do y’all want me to develop this development at the airport? That is the answer I need.”

Mayor Don Albanese told LaBrie he was surprised by the direct question, mentioning he thought development discussion this week would center on finances.

LaBrie, ultimately, did not get an answer from the council, but Albanese said the council would discuss the issue, possibly in closed session, and notify LaBrie of the result.

LaBrie told Nederland City Council members he would like to develop five retail units in front and several industrial spaces in back of a 50-acre tract that is located between the airport’s main campus and U.S. 69.

“I have four contracts on the first retail center and I have two contracts on my desk for industrial buildings in the back, but I cannot sign those and date them until I can commit,” he said.

Following the meeting, LaBrie reiterated to Port Arthur Newsmedia that city council support was crucial in his development plans.

“Why would you want to develop anything in the city if the city council is not behind you?” he said. “That’s my point and that’s what I need.”

He did not offer a guess as to what he thought the council would decide, adding a timeline on a decision is up to Nederland’s elected leaders.

City Manager Chris Duque told Port Arthur Newsmedia that LaBrie addressed the city council in executive session July 7 because of the council’s status as an oversight board to the Nederland Economic Development Corporation.

Duque said he anticipates working with the mayor and scheduling the issue on the next city council agenda. However, in what form is not yet known.

The Nederland City Council is scheduled to meet next at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at city hall.

Nederland Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Kay DeCuir said LaBrie does not have a contract with the EDC for incentives. According to DeCuir, the EDC board chose not to make a motion following a recent presentation from LaBrie.

DeCuir said the land LaBrie is operating on is owned by Jefferson County.

Background

LaBrie, who operates LaBrie Properties, appeared before Jefferson County commissioners earlier this year and described two retail centers planned for the U.S. 69 service center.

Each would be built as eight 1,500 square-foot spaces.

“If somebody wants two or three, then we can divide that up appropriately,” he said during the commissioners workshop.

One, which he called the Hanger, would be modeled to fit the airport.

The other would be called the Derrick.

“It’s a tribute to all oil and gas companies that made Southeast Texas what it is today,” LaBrie told commissioners.

The developer also created the Silos shopping center in Beaumont near Tram Road.