Investigating the status of development at Jack Brooks Regional Airport

Construction on Nederland Avenue is a sign of economic development. Workers are building a Weinerscnitzel, and across the street, a new Whataburger will soon rise at the site of a liquor store. Both are expected to be in business this summer.

Just down the block, restaurant owner Al Judice is opening another eatery. It will replace Sartin's Seafood, but that means Judice will no longer set up shop outside the Jack Brooks Regional Airport.

Kay Decuir, the executive director of the Nederland Economic Development Corporation, doesn't see Judice's decision as a setback. He still plans to locate in Nederland, and she's confident phase one of developing the airport property, known as The Landing, is still on track.

"Planning and zoning approved it, loved it, was just enthusiastic over the program, and then we took it to city council. They blessed it, so now we'll be recruiting additional tenants to go there, which I do not believe will be hard to do. It's like once you get the first one there, they're just going to spiral out," said Decuir.

Glow Investment out of Houston is in charge of phase two at the airport. The Golden Square is described as an upscale shopping and entertainment destination.

"It's about a $75 million investment. It's all lease land. We have two retail shopping centers. We have the events center. We have the hotel, a 4 star hotel that has room service, 100,000 square foot office complex."

That project, however, has hit an obstacle. It turns out, thousands of people own small portions of the land's mineral rights, and their approval is required.

"So that's been a big hiccup. If we had known this a year or so ago when it had fallen on my lap, I would have started it back then, but we found a state statute that we can do a work around that basically will blanket everything from here on out phase 1, 2,3, and 4, so we never go though this again, allowing those family members to drill off site, whether it be behind the hangars or just another location, but not in the property where the improvement has been made."

Decuir says this has caused a delay, but says once the families grant their approvals, water and sewage work can begin on the property. Decuir expects that to start some time this year.

The Nederland EDC is spending $2 million on water and sewage infrastructure for the airport development. The money will reimbursed once rent is collected, and eventually, once the EDC is paid off, the money generated will benefit Nederland, the airport and Jefferson County.

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