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City accepting bids to renovate new health department

The City of Port Arthur is now accepting architectural qualifications to renovate a building that will soon become the site of the city’s health department.

The property at 5860 9th Avenue, the former site of the Texas Health and Human Services office, was purchased by the city in December 2020 for $1.6 million. Council has approved an additional $4.5 million to go towards renovations.

“What I want to do is break up the monotony,” said City Manager Ron Burton. “It’s kind of boxed-shaped. It’s a very nice building. I want to break up the monotony and have some creative expressions on the entrances of that building.”

And the entrances, said Health Director Judith Smith, are one of the things that will make the new building easier for residents.

“With some of the clinics, the patients will be able to walk straight in from the outside,” she said. “Like the STD clinic. Now the only access is through the main entrance. This will allow more privacy because the patient will be able to go straight to that clinic and to the receptionist.”

The Port Arthur vaccine hub is now located in the Texas Artist Museum building, 3501 Cultural Center Drive. (Chris Moore/The News)

Being on only one floor instead of multiple will also provide additional support for patrons, she added. Those will mobility issues will no longer have to worry about elevators or stairs.

The building, constructed in 1995 according to the Jefferson County Appraisal District, has 41,448 square-feet of room inside, with 62,250 square-feet of parking space. The current location, which sits at 449 Austin Avenue, was purchased by Motiva Enterprises as part of its downtown revitalization plan.

“We should be out of the present building in 18 months,” Burton said, “but Motiva will work with us. The world has changed considerably from March of last year. We have everything in place, but we are entering into the hurricane season. I hope we don’t fall victim to any natural disaster.”

Smith said once the department moves into the new building, the need for a COVID vaccination hub will no longer be necessary, as the facility has room to create a clinic specifically for virus vaccines, keeping them separate from regular vaccines.

Companies wanting to submit bids must do so by 3 p.m. May 12. They can be mailed to Office of the City Secretary, City Hall 444 4th Street or P.O Box 1089, Port Arthur, Texas 77641.