May 27, 2022

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NE Library land proposals range from $1 a year lease to $600,000 purchase | News

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Four proposals have been submitted for land on which to build the Northeast Lafayette Regional Library.

They range from leasing land for 30 years at $1 per year to selling 5 acres of land for $600,000.

The Lafayette Parish Library board of control voted in February, on the recommendation of a committee of residents, board members and staff, to issue a request for proposals for land on which to build a new library in the city of Lafayette south of Interstate 10 and east of the Evangeline Thruway.

The area is socio-economically challenged and geographically cut off from other libraries by the interstate and the thruway, limiting access to pedestrians and bicyclists.

The committee and board rejected the idea of leasing space, preferring instead to construct a new building, although some board members expressed concern about staffing and other operating costs.

The former City-Parish Council, pushed by former Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, set aside $8 million to build the new library. The council did not set aside money for employees and operating expenses. The library system’s funding has been cut in recent years. It lost about $3.5 million a year in revenue when voters in 2018 failed to renew one of three property taxes. Parish officials also used a $26 million fund balance to pay for drainage improvements after the 2016 flood.

The proposals submitted for land for the Northeast Regional Library include:

  • Holy Rosary Redeveopment, lease 5 acres at $1 a year for 30 years, 1508 Louisiana Ave.
  • Chappuis Properties, sell 3-5½ acres for $100,000 per acre, 100 block of Chappuis Drive.
  • Joseph Duhon, sell 1.23 acres for $250,000 per acre, 2500 block of Louisiana Avenue.
  • ESD Investments, sell 5 acres for $120,000 per acre, 2600 Louisiana Ave.

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The Holy Rosary property is part of the former Holy Rosary Institute, a school for Black children that operated from 1913 until 1993, which Holy Rosary Redevelopment is restoring and rebuilding. The offered 5 acres of land, which is not occupied by any buildings, is along Louisiana Avenue between Holy Family Apartments and a shopping center on the corner of Louisiana Avenue and Carmel Drive.

Holy Rosary Redevelopment leases the property and school from the owners, Holy Rosary Land Holdings, a nonprofit group in New Orleans created by an order of nuns who formerly operated the school. Sister Leona Bruner, president of the land holding company, signed a document in April agreeing to allow for the sublease of the property for the library.

Corey Jack, executive director of Holy Rosary Redevelopment, said Friday if the limit of a 30-year lease becomes an issue, the group is open to negotiations, including the option to renew the lease for another 30 years or extend the time of the lease up-front.

The Chappuis Drive property is between Moss Street and NE Evangeline Thruway, a few blocks north of N.P. Moss Elementary School and behind the Post Office on Moss Street. Depending on how much of the land is purchased for the library, the total cost could be between $300,000 and $550,000.

The Joseph Duhon proposal states that he sold the property about 10 years ago. It contained space to build a Dollar General store and ample space for parking, the proposal states.

The ESD Investments proposal calls for selling 5 acres of an 8-acre plat that contains the new Infinity College. The property can accommodate a library of up to 13,000 square feet with another 25,000 square feet for future expansion, as well as up to 130 parking spaces and a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, the proposal states. At $120,000 an acre, the total cost for buying 5 acres would be $600,000.

The Northeast Library Exploratory Committee is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the main library in downtown Lafayette, 301 W. Congress St. The agenda was not finalized as of Friday evening, but the Northeast Library proposals almost certainly will be discussed.

The Library Board of Control is scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the main library. The library board normally meets on the third Monday of the month.

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