Thursday, September 1, 2011

Downtown Port Arthur Texas

Covering a downtown area may be a little off topic, but there are several lost retail stories from every downtown area in the United States. Port Arthur Texas is a city of around 50,000 people that has seen better days. The downtown area was flourishing in the 1950's through the 1960's and dropped off significantly leaving the area mostly abandoned and blighted. Downtown had several restaurants, offices, and retail stores that lined Proctor and the surrounding streets. Most of the retail of Port Arthur is located on Gulfway or towards Nederland with the Central Mall anchoring the area retail. What happened to the businesses here in Port Arthur is not documented well on the internet, but the nearby industries seems to be one of the causes. I would like to see some of these projects to redevelop downtown take off and bring this area back to life.

We start our tour of downtown Port Arthur at the tallest building that still stands; the Sabine Hotel. There was also a taller downtown hotel that was demolished in the 1980's named the goodhue hotel. The Sabine Hotel is slated for redevelopment, but it will take a really committed developer to pull this off. Many windows are broken and the hotel has been exposed to the elements for many years and several hurricanes. If this building can be fixed up; it will make downtown much more attractive. Also of note six downtown buildings that are pictured here have been slated for demolition.



Take a good look inside some of the windows; you can see some fans and light fixtures.





The vacant World Trade Building. I really like the style of this building and it looks to be one of the most well preserved of the vacant structures in downtown. You can buy this building as of 9/1/2011 for a mere $275,000 or less.



Here are the rest of the downtown buildings; how many of these were retail shops and markets? Looking at a historic photo from the 1960's shows that the downtown area was much fuller.

This building is an example of what should be done downtown; it is one of the few buildings that are occupied and keeps the style intact.












This building has lots of damage and some of the window frames have caved in. This was once a Kress department store and you can see the logo in the middle of the building near the top. Kress is a department store chain that had a store in downtown New Orleans also. Not much has been documented from Kress since it was a smaller retail chain that did not last.
No news is good news? Not in Port Arthur.

Some of the buildings have labelscars from murals.

Even several of the houses standing around downtown have been neglected.

More of the commercial buildings.


This view of Proctor street through the heart of downtown shows the lack of people on this weekday afternoon.


The roof has caved in on this building.





As Is just as the sign says.
Not all in Port Arthur is looking grim; these long vacant buildings have been purchased by developers looking to redevelop the properties. The Kress building has a new building in the empty lot on the rendering.

The Sabine Hotel may become apartments.


This former grocery store is located further away from downtown on Gulfway Drive. Gulfway Drive has several businesses, but the majority of the area retail is located near the mall.



This temple is located almost across the street from the creepy former Texaco pictured below.



This creepy old school Texaco is North of downtown on Proctor St.




17 comments:

  1. With regard to the "KRESS" store- I was an employee of Kress- better known as S.H. KRESS & Co. had retail outlets nationwide at one time in the 1910's- 1980's. Kress was consolidated with TG&Y Chain when both were purchased by MCCrory Corp. of York, PA. Many stores were rebranded as McCrory 5 & dime.

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    1. New Orleans had a downtown Kress store that closed down in the late 1990's after being there for many years. I really did not like McCrory stores and I am sure many others felt the same way because the chain eventually fell apart.

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  2. The downtown area, like many downtowns, has decayed, but is improving steadily. And the annual Mardi Gras celebration draws in over 200,000 visitors each year. Also downtown is thriving junior college, Lamar State College-Port Arthur. Not everything is as bleek as the article leads one to believe

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    1. I am glad to hear that things are changing in downtown Port Arthur. I would really like to see some if not all of the remaining buildings downtown renovated and put back into use. With oil and gas growth strong in Southeast Texas now would be the time for Port Arthur to bring downtown back. If you would like to reply with some of the projects going on, I would be glad to update my article.

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  3. There is a great deal of skepticism with regard to the purpose behind trying to redevelop downtown Port Arthur. Part of the reason for this is that the city has never completed a feasibility study of the project, and there doesn't seem to be any general plan to enact it. Furthermore, although the city sent out several hundred invitations to retailers throughout the nation asking them to participate in this redevelopment, only two responded; each declining the invitation respectfully. The remainder didn't even bother wasting the postage to respond.

    Another factor is that getting into downtown Port Arthur can be a challenge, especially for those unfamiliar with the layout of the community. Add to that, many of the routes leading into or out of downtown will take motorists through some of the most blight-infested and high-crime areas in the city. None of this will lend to convincing people to visit downtown Port Arthur.

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    1. I think the lack of highway access to Downtown Port Arthur really hurts the chances for redevelopment. Downtown needs a catalyst to bring attention to the area as a place that people want to be at. A new large company, an expansion of Lamar, or even a hospital will bring more people into Downtown. It will be hard to get people to move back Downtown until there are more reasons to be there.

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    2. people from out of town just have to go eastbound on hwy 69(memorial blvd) until they reach proctor and take a right. proctor is the heart of downtown. I believe the reason downtown hasn't been fixed up is because port Arthur is too busy making businesses cloe to hwy 365 venient for neighboring cities such as Nederland and port neches. Its a shame when you compare all the neighboring downtown cities to port arthurs downtown. I blame it all on white flight.

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  4. The building next to the world trade building , what is the name of that building and the history behind it ? Recently I visited it and I was curious to find out the name of that building on austin avenue near and next to the world trade building . I tried looking for a name on the building but all I saw was building on the plaque ! Do you know the name thank you and wonderful picture

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I am not sure what the name of that building is. There are a few other posts from Port Arthur that I found searching google that have much more information that I was able to put together for my blog.

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  5. was there ever a store named Abrahams?

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    1. I am not sure, there is not much information online about Downtown Port Arthur. Several of the buildings in my pictures above are now gone. I recently made a pass through the area and it is just as abandoned as before.

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  6. I used to work in Port Arthur.Walk down the abandon city sidewalks,and you can see advertising
    in the sidewalk itself.Very sad to see a city go to near-ruin like this.

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    1. It is strange how the downtown area fell apart so badly. It could have been a tourist destination being so close to the gulf, but they were unable to turn it around once it started floundering.

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  7. There was an Abraham's Super Market on Woolworth Blvd and later a Abraham's 7-11 on 9th Ave.

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  8. There was an Abraham's Super Market on Woolworth Blvd and later a Abraham's 7-11 on 9th Ave.

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    1. Thanks for some info about the area. Not much is available online about the city and the past.

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    2. Drugs had a lot to do with it to be honest

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