AP NEWS

Motiva to buy, rehab 2 historic buildings in downtown PA

April 4, 2019

Motiva Enterprises on Wednesday announced plans to purchase a pair of historic buildings in downtown Port Arthur for 500 office workers, including an undetermined number of expected new hires.

The company’s purchase of the Adams Building and the Federal Building, across the street from each other at 440 and 500 Austin Ave., respectively, is expected to close in mid-May, company STL Deals Manager Jay Hall said.

Motiva spokeswoman Angela Goodwin added that the company will begin developing a rehabilitation plan on the two buildings immediately.

Because the transaction has not closed and the plan has not been completed, the company does not have a firm development timeline. Hall said he expects it to take about 2½ years.

Houston-based Motiva is an affiliate of Saudi Refining. Its Port Arthur Refinery, currently the largest in the United States, was the fifth largest in the world when the company completed an expansion in 2012.

The rehabilitation will include internal demolition, reconstruction and any necessary work to the buildings’ facade.

“Our hope is to maintain the integrity of the outside because it goes with the downtown appeal,” he said.

The Federal Building was constructed in 1911 and the Adams in 1924. Hall said that Motiva felt choosing such historically significant buildings would honor the city’s heritage as well as its long relationship with the local plant, which opened as Texaco’s first refinery in 1903.

Some of the expected 500 employees currently work in 230 module buildings, similar to portable buildings used by some schools, at the Motiva plant just outside the city limits. The rest will be hired as the company grows, although the company did not have a firm number or timeline for the hires. Moving them to these two buildings will “consolidate them into one central location so they can collaborate together,” he said.

Motiva doesn’t currently have solid plans to buy more downtown buildings, he said, but it will do a needs assessment based on long-term plans for the refinery “and acquire real estate as needed.”

The company is also considering a separate $6.6 billion expansion at its Port Arthur refinery. Final decision on that expansion is not expected until 2020.

Jefferson County Commissioner Michael Sinegal said with the buildings’ purchase, he’s “singing Motiva’s praises.”

“We’ve been waiting on something like this for Port Arthur for a long time,” he said.

Assistant City Manager Rebecca Underhill said the city is optimistic that the investment will bring more retail and other money into downtown, infusing new energy into the area.

“This is part of a dream for revitalization for downtown, and the idea that Motiva is going to invest in the downtown and in the classic buildings of downtown Port Arthur, we’re just thrilled to work with them in any way that we can to assist with this project,” she said.

The city expects the investment will bring restaurants, coffee shops, retail and other investment downtown that will cater to these workers and any other businesses that may soon come into the community.

“The key is to get buildings in use (and) people here,” she said, “and the commerce will follow.”

Underhill couldn’t say if any other specific businesses were looking to relocate downtown but said there’s “a lot of interest and activity” in the area.

Jacob Dick contributed.

kaitlin.bain@beaumontenterprise.com

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