Work returns to Motiva buildings in downtown Port Arthur

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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A long-standing question in Port Arthur could be closer to an answer as some work has begun on the Adams and Federal buildings, which were purchased in 2017 in Port Arthur.

“We think that’s a very good sign,” said City Manager Ron Burton. “It has been happening for weeks, and we are very pleased with it.”

Burton said the crew is currently accessing structural integrity.

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“From a meeting I had at the end of January with the CEO, he would not commit to a deadline or timetable as I had requested in October because of some concerns,” said Mayor Thurman Bartie. “So before they put people back out there working, they have to survey the structure.”

Following the 2017 purchase, Motiva in 2019 hosted an unveiling and downtown celebration for the revitalization project, which would turn the two historic buildings into offices for more than 500 contractors and personnel. In addition, Motiva said up to 12,000 jobs would be on the horizon with a $12 billion expansion to the Port Arthur refinery.

Construction came to a halt in 2021. In May 2022, representatives from Motiva reiterated to city councilmembers their intent to continue the downtown revitalization project. They had \ faced by a multitude of issues since the unveiling — COVID, requirements from the Texas Historical Commission to renovate the Adams Building and Federal Building, and ongoing inflation that drastically increased the cost of building materials.

Last week, a statement sent to Port Arthur Newsmedia from Motiva said a timeline for construction won’t be established until “needed assessments and the work scope” has been completed.

“I think the big question is and has been: Is it going to happen?” Bartie said. “And I am willing to say it is. I just don’t when.”

Burton said he’s been in contact with representatives from Motiva, and a date for a recommencement will be considered once the structural integrity assessment is complete.

Port Arthur Newsmedia reached out to Motiva Enterprises Wednesday for comment and will provide an update upon response.

In addition to the Adams and Federal Buildings, Motiva also purchased the building that houses the Port Arthur Health Department as the city renovates the former Health and Human Services building for rehoming. Under the original agreement with Motiva, the City would be allowed to keep the health department in the building until July 1, 2022, before a $12,000 monthly lease would be required.

City officials in March said Motiva has not required any payment for lease of the building.