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PA razing abandoned buildings to spur growth in downtown

November 21, 2018

Six abandoned buildings in downtown Port Arthur will be razed as federal funds from Hurricane Ike roll in a decade later.

The buildings have been vacant for years. City officials hope their removal will attract growth to the largely dormant business district.

“It’s a good thing for Port Arthur,” said Floyd Batiste, CEO of the Port Arthur Economic Development Corp. He called them “blights” on downtown.

Built by W.T. Grant Co. in 1938, the 701 Procter St. building was once a general store that trumpeted air-conditioning and 44-cent goods, according to online University of North Texas archives.

Construction workers hoisted by crane to the fourth floor of the structure steadily drilled away at layers of old brick on Tuesday afternoon, knocking out window by window into the belly of the abandoned site.

The neighboring Art Foundry building at 733 Procter will also be torn down as part of an approximately $650,000 federal grant administered by the General Land Office.

Assistant City Manager Ron Burton said all six flagged structures, which are privately owned, are “uninhabitable.”

The buildings’ dusty glass windows, if there are any windows at all, peek into piles of rubbish and debris from who knows how long, some of them “definitely” before Ike, Burton said.

Other sites slated for demolition include a white brick building at 535-49 E. Rev Ransom Howard; an abandoned car shop at 1048 Procter; an overgrown duplex at 2002 Procter; and a forgotten blue building at 1101 Procter.

Google Maps records show that most of the roofs are caving in.

Burton said he hopes the demolitions, which started last week, will be complete by year’s end.

The six property owners were approached by city officials and it was determined the structures were not structurally sound and couldn’t be salvaged, Burton said.

He said property owners could have chosen to reinvest in the buildings to bring them up to code, which could cost at least $5 million. But all decided not to or didn’t respond to the city’s inquiries.

Burton said it provides “another opportunity for reinvestment in our downtown area.”

phoebe.suy@beaumontenterprise.com

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