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Nederland EDC approved to move forward with Boston Avenue purchase, renovation project

NEDERLAND — The Nederland Economic Development Corporation received contested approval to continue with plans to spend $230,000 to acquire locations at 1215 and 1217 Boston Avenue.

Nederland EDC Executive Director Kay DeCuir said the goal is to buy the property, renovate the location including adding a divider wall between the addresses, lease the locations to two already-interested parties for two years and eventually sell the buildings to the tenants.

DeCuir told Nederland City Council members she could not divulge the names of the potential tenants — which were described as existing businesses — so as not to interfere with or jeopardize current rent agreements.

Mayor Don Albanese and council members Billy Neal, Emmett Hollier and Sylvia Root voted for the project. Councilman Talmadge Austin, who represents Ward 1, voted against the project.

During the voting process, Austin first indicated his desire to abstain from voting. When Austin was told he was required to participate if he did not have a financial interest in the property, the councilman replied, “Ok, then I’m going to vote nay.”

Following the meeting, Austin told Port Arthur Newsmedia, “I feel like that particular property on Boston would be worth a lot more to some of the other business owners on Boston Avenue.”

During discussion prior to the vote, Austin questioned how the EDC was going to know how much to spend on renovations.

DeCuir said inspections, previously scheduled last week and canceled because of the freeze, would take place today (Feb. 23).

An appraisal will follow.

“We can pay over appraised value,” DeCuir said. “That is an issue with my board members. If the appraisal comes in less or the appraisal comes in more, they can decide to go forward.”

DeCuir said excessive spending is not the EDC’s goal, noting the agreed upon sale price, which comes to $57.50 a square foot, is “cheap on Boston Avenue.”

“We still have businesses that can’t get here that want to get here coming from sister cities on the other side,” she said.

Councilman Emmett Hollier said from a city perspective, “I would be very cautious of paying way over appraisal from a taxpayer (standpoint).”

Officials said the locations, which are owned by Roberto Maraist, have sat closed for more than two years after previously being utilized as a fish and aquarium store.

DeCuir said the project leads to job creation and more tax revenue for the city.

DeCuir told the city council the EDC is actively seeking to remove eyesores from Nederland, clean them up and get them ready as either green space (like the Villa Motel) or retail ready (like the Boston Avenue project) for private businesses.

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