Editorial: Tip of the hat to the Port for industrial housing complex

The Port of Lake Charles and its board of commissioners deserve plaudits for taking steps to fill a looming housing need in

Southwest Louisiana.

The port announced last week its

intention to build an industrial housing complex that could accommodate

as many as 4,000

workers. The $70 million facility will be built on 200 acres of

port land on Louisiana 397, southeast of the Calcasieu Parish

Sheriff’s Office and Calcasieu Correctional Center. Rent that will

be charged workers will pay for the facility that can be

deconstructed and moved once demand for housing in the area wanes.

The complex is being built in

anticipation of a flood of construction workers who will be lured to the

area by new petro-chemical

facilities and modifications and expansions of existing ones in

Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

The unprecedented $47 billion construction boom proposed during this decade could require as many as 15,000 construction jobs.

That’s easily more than the local labor force can fill, which means skilled workers will be traveling from near and far to

become the supply for the demand.

Housing these nomadic workers has

always been a major concern for the companies that plan to employ them

and for local officials.

The private sector can shoulder some of the load with existing

properties and the construction of some mobile home parks.

But large-scale construction on the level that the port has

envisioned is unlikely because the construction boom will be relatively

short-lived and investors would be resistant to building large

developments or apartment complexes, given the fact that these

construction jobs will begin to tail off dramatically by 2020, if

not sooner.

The port’s housing complex will include

different dining options, recreational facilities and other amenities

for workers

and their families in a self-contained community. Ian Foster of

Greenfield Logistical Solutions of Louisiana, which will design

the facility, said it will ‘‘provide a world-class village in

support of local project activity.’’

The facility, located about a mile south of Interstate 10, will also lend itself to mass transit. The new Sasol gas-to-liquid

facility in Westlake is expected to employ 7,000 construction workers at peak time. Getting a huge workforce of that size

to the job site has been an issue that has caused local officials sleepless nights.

The port housing complex is not the total answer to the expected housing crunch, but it’s a welcome tonic.

Port officials and board members deserve a tip of the cap for their vision and resourcefulness in trying to fill this void.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.