Port Arthur native proposes new housing development

Published 12:18 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

A former Port Arthur resident who now runs a non-profit development corporation in Beaumont is hoping to add a multitude of new housing units within the city.

Airon Reynolds Jr., who was born in Port Arthur and moved after graduating from Lincoln High School, proposed to Council this week his intentions to turn 1001 10th Street, the former Franklin Elementary School campus, into “luxury” housing.

“We have done repairs since Harvey in the City of Port Arthur — a total of 120 between Beaumont and Port Arthur,” Reynolds said. “And even with that there’s still a great need for housing. With the 1,500 clients that I have, there are (some) here in the City of Port Arthur that are living 3-4 families in one house. So there is a dire need for additional housing.”

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Reynolds said Port Arthur has seen more homes destroyed than built since Harvey devastated the city in 2017.

But with a median household income of $36,000 a year, it makes home ownership difficult if not unobtainable.

“This housing development that we’re doing is not going to be, for lack of a better term, low-income housing going from generation to generation,” he said. “Every person that becomes a resident in this facility is going to become empowered or what is better known as self-sufficient. What we hope to do is to get people to have a change of mindset as to home ownership.”

Reynolds does not like to use the terms “low-to-moderate income housing” or “affordable housing” because it carries a negative connotation.

Instead, he said, he creates “luxury housing that comes with affordable prices.”

The plan for the 10th Street location is an apartment complex, townhomes and, potentially, single-family residences.

Each apartment will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, a wash room and include 1,288 square-feet of living space.

There is also a plan, Reynolds said, to help educate residents on budgeting and homeownership.

“I know your track record; everything you touch is like solid gold,” said Councilman Cal Jones. “You’re a great developer, so whatever you’re looking for from the City, I hope that we all get on board and help you with what you need.”