Port Arthur could soon begin leasing Health Department building following renovation delays

Published 12:36 am Thursday, April 28, 2022

The City of Port Arthur could soon be paying Motiva Enterprises $12,000 per month to lease the building currently housing the Health Department following news that the department’s future location might not be finished for two more years.

District 3 Councilman Thomas Kinlaw has received calls from residents in his service area questioning the progress of the new health department, which will be located in the former Texas Human Services office on 9th Avenue.

In October 2020, Motiva purchased the department’s current building downtown. At that time, Motiva and the city entered into an agreement that, following a number of months, the city would begin leasing the building.

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The monthly lease would begin at or around July 1, Kinlaw said.

“We talked about this four or five months ago, about where we are with…the project,” Kinlaw said during this week’s council meeting. “We were given information that we were still in the design phase of this project.”

In December 2020, council approved spending $4.5 million to renovate the 9th Avenue building, which was purchased for $1.6 million.

Constructed in 1995, the facility has approximately 41,00 square-feet inside and 62,000 square-feet of parking space.

In November of last year, the architectural drawing and construction phase was said to be approximately 65 percent complete.

On Tuesday, Assistant City Manager Pamela Langford said the city in January entered into a second agreement with the engineering firm to design a COVID vaccination clinic at the 9th Avenue site. This addition called for the firm to meet with the city’s IT department to address and finalize any concerns regarding telephones, data drops and networking needs.

“Staff expected construction plans to be finalized and bidding to begin in February 2022,” she said. “However, some additional concerns and updates were needed with the mechanical plumbing and electrical plans that required further review and feedback.”

Mechanical and plumbing revisions were finished in February, she added, with electrical plans still pending.

The purchasing department is preparing a bidding package for construction.

“We have been in constant contact with Motiva and keeping them abreast of the delays that we’ve had in terms of starting the construction phase,” Langford said. “We have sent letters to their representatives regarding even the investment that we’ve made in the current site. They have assured us that they will work with us, just as long as we are progressing and keeping us abreast of where we are in that process.”

Councilman Kenneth Marks said, under the lease provisions, the city is responsible for maintenance to the building as long as they remain tenants.

Recently, $98,000 was spent to repair the HVAC system.