What started as an update story on the May opening of Orange Trade Days could easily be considered an East Side rehabilitation update. One can’t help looking at the development going on around the future trade days property – 200 W. Turrett Ave – and consider the potential for attracting people outside Orange’s borders.

If the number of web site hits is an indication – which they are not – but if they were – 1,600 people are interested in coming to the new market. 

In reality, about 100 vendors have expressed interest in joining a movement to rekindle the once burning flame in the old Navy Park and Riverside districts by reopening a hub to shop for everything from tomatoes to tuxedos. Orange Trade Days is on the map to provide a monthly opportunity for vendors all over Southeast Texas to sell their wares. The market would be open one third or fourth Saturday a month and, at first, will give vendors two booth sizes for individual space. 

According to property owner Billy Snyder, while only 19,000 square feet will be ready to go the beginning of spring, an additional 17,000 will be added. The market will be open either the third or fourth weekend of the month, in rotation with Canton, Winnie, Vidor and other regional markets.

The inspections process at the Turrett Avenue property is well underway, with needed fire alarm equipment and some electrical yet to be installed. These will be the finishing touches on a venture that will take about $20,000 to maintain. 

Snyder is planning a vendor pre-showing to review the layout of the property and for vendors to reserve their particular spots.

Snyder and other business owners are trying to anticipate the financial momentum of such a venue. And to calculate that, they are looking at what developments are already underway in the area.

The Port of Orange continues to expand its territories along Pier Road, Childers Avenue and Alabama Street. A new Homeland Security command center, the recent receipt of the title to the U.S. Navy administration building property to house future businesses and provide further warehouse space, and continued rehabilitation of the port’s intermodal rail system are all telltale signs that an economic upsurge is happening.

Closer in to the Turrett property, ITEX developers, based in Port Arthur, continue to work with Icon Builders LLC, in erecting and rehabilitating single and multi-family housing in portions of old Navy Park and east side. 

These ITEX developments have occurred in three phases. Phase I involved the release of $14 million in grant funds in July 2007 to build 115 single family, duplex and quadriplex units. To date, that phase is 99 percent complete with 82 units occupied, according to ITEX representative Chris Akbari. 

The second phase, currently in construction, involves a $1.6 million deal to add 25 units. The third phase will include $3 million for another 36 units at the old Kingston Apartment complex, 611 West Decatur Ave., and 11 other units scattered in Navy Park, which will be rehabilitated.

The property where Arthur Robinson Apartment Complex, 416 Burton Ave., is now located, is very near the trade days property and is nearing a major overhaul, including demolition.

“Hopefully, by the end of June, we will be able to start on the Arthur Robinson project,” Akbari said.

There will be 32 units built for single family dwellings and 80 units will be built back at the current (Arthur Robinson) location. The original property housed 160 units.
“There’s a lot of work still needing to be done in that area at all levels to revitalize an area like that,” Akbari said. “It’s all leaning to rebuild the East Side and make Orange not just a place to live …”

One can’t mention East Orange without mentioning Hurricane Ike, which caused so much destruction of property. 

The question posed in a previous story lingers: Can anything good come from these ashes?

It would seem the answer might be, ‘yes.’ And city officials and a growing East Side business district are counting on it.

To book a vendor’s spot at Orange Trade Days, contact Orange Trade Days Management, 210 Green Ave., (409) 883-4344, or email wsnyder1@gt.rr.com.