Records: Stewart only owns 13.58 acres at Parc Lafayette site
MD-turned-developer Glenn Stewart told The Independent Weekly for a Feb. 23 story that he had invested $15.5 million in land costs, having purchased all 34 acres of his proposed Parc Lafayette lifestyle center in 2009, and another $4 million in infrastructure costs over the past six months. But records with the Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor’s Office reveal that’s not the case, that he only owns a portion of the tract, and Stewart clarified Thursday that he has a contract on the remaining acreage.
In January 2009 Stewart Family LLC, Birch Tree Estates LLC and Townhouse Plaza LLC purchased 13.58 acres, the front portion of the Kaliste Saloom Road/Camellia Boulevard tract, from the Saloom family for $7.01 million. But the remaining larger parcel down Camellia, 19.39 acres, is still owned by Saloom LLC and Pine Farm Limited Partnership LLC, according to the assessor’s office. So why should that matter for a private developer? Because Stewart is asking the Lafayette City-Parish Council to approve the creation of special taxing districts at the site so that he can develop a four- or five-star hotel and convention center, a request that has sparked controversy and outrage among some residents.
The proposed economic development districts — also called a Tax Increment Financing district — are on prime real estate acreage across the street from upscale River Ranch. These types of incentives were made possible by the Louisiana Legislature in 2002 when it amended decades-old incentive laws to allow for a wider range of economic development projects. The proposal before the council calls for an additional 2 cent sales tax and 2 cent hotel occupancy tax at the hotel, and a 1 cent sales tax in the retail development that will surround the hotel. The base sales tax of 8 percent would continue to line the coffers of the state, local government and the Lafayette Parish School Board, and absolutely no tax dollars are on the hook if the development fails; the additional tax expires when the bonds are paid off.
In a brief phone conversation this morning from San Francisco, where he was in a business meeting, Stewart clarified that he has options on the remaining acreage. “We’re in a contract. We’ve got the money set aside. We’ve already done the wetlands work. We spent $100,000 getting the wetlands mitigated on that property,” he said. “It’s under contract. We just haven’t closed on it yet.” So, does Stewart believe having a contract equates to a purchase? “With the amount I have down in it, yes I do,” he said. He declined to specify just how much he has invested in the parcel.
Stewart also declined to name the high-end women’s department store that will anchor the retail portion of his development, despite that he says a lease has been finalized. He also would not disclose the names of the tenants he says have signed leases for 62,500 square feet of retail at the site. “I’d rather not,” he said. “I’m working with the leasing agent, and some of the tenants would rather their name not be disclosed because they’re in other current locations right now. Without knowing for sure [if they would be OK with releasing their names], I’d rather not.”
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.