"When you can attract artists into the community in lieu of the barroom scene you have done so much," Dickie Breaux says. "Anywhere you go I feel the Achilles heel of the creative community is a lack of reverence for historical property."
With Breaux's track record in historic preservation, his recent bid to buy and operate Borden's Ice Cream store on Johnston Street ("Sweet Offer," Feb. 9) looked rich with promise. The shop has been a local landmark since it first opened in 1940 and is the last remaining Borden's retail store in the United States. Breaux wants to keep it that way. But the entrepreneur now says he's reached a stalemate with representatives of the UL Lafayette Foundation in negotiations to buy the property.
"They just don't get it as far as I can tell," Breaux says. Breaux has already reached an agreement with Borden's officials to maintain operating the store under the company name, but the property is owned by UL. Breaux says his offer of $9.50 per square foot for the 17,000 square foot lot was countered by the UL Foundation Board with a request for $14 per square foot. "I think the counter offer was not fair," Breaux says. He responded with a request to lease the property for 25 years, but hasn't heard back from UL in the past month. "My only interest is to keep Borden's open, and I'm wide open to almost any situation if they want to do a profit sharing deal or something else," says Breaux. "I don't mind coming up with the capital to restore the building."
If he does acquire the property, Breaux says he is prepared to spend an additional $120,000 fixing antiquated electrical wiring, replacing Borden's air conditioning unit and adding another building for storage so he can expand capacity.
UL President Ray Authement says the decision lies in the hands of the UL Foundation board, on which he serves with 30 other members. He says the committee has referred the matter to its building committee to negotiate. "That's sort of a unique property," Authement says. Though he refuses to discuss the specifics of any offer, Authement says, "We're looking at the best possible deal for the foundation. The money in time accrues for the betterment of the university."
According to Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux, the last property to be sold in the area was a lot at 1715 Johnston St. near Rex Street, which went for $6.23 a square foot. Breaux says he checked with Comeaux's office to gauge fair market value before making his initial offer. "Borden's has done everything they can to assist to me," Breaux says. "I wish the cooperation was the same from the university. I'm not interested in becoming a real estate baron in downtown Lafayette. I'm just trying to keep Borden's open."
The University foundation inherited the Borden's property from Flora Levy, who passed away in 1981. Dr. Maurice duQuesnay, the executor of her will (and a UL English professor), says Levy did not put any stipulations on the donation, but notes, "Her hope was that the property would be a sustaining and permanent investment for her endowment."
UL Foundation board chairman Rusty Cloutier maintains the board will negotiate in the best interest of the foundation, but also declined to comment on specifics of any offers and counter offers. "The foundation takes this piece of property very, very seriously," he says. "We are very aware of the value of the area." Both Authement and Cloutier also say they are sensitive to the community's desire to keeping Borden's open. "The question is: is it best to sell at a certain price yet to be determined or to continue to lease?" Authement asks.
Cathy Webre, director of the Downtown Development Authority, says she hopes the two parties can reach an agreement. "If you went in and actually tried to restore the building and had an entrepreneur like Dickie really promote the business, I think it could be very influential," she says.
Breaux is frustrated over the lack of movement in the negotiations. "I see that area as the creation of a whole arts community, and I think Borden's would be a wonderful continuous thing to something already started there," he says. However, Breaux fears that the only way UL will get top dollar for the property is for it to sell off Borden's completely. "The issue is simple in my mind," he says. "Do they want to see Borden's continue and have a really unique restoration and the only Borden's retail store still in existence for this area, or do they want another Taco Bell?"
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.
Urgent Care clinics unprepared for Ebola; Nazis collected Social Security; Hawaii dodges a bullet and more national and international news for Monday, October 20, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Will $400 be enough for the re-election campaign of LPSB's Hunter Beasley to overcome two years of holding our school system hostage and hurting the education of our children all because of a personal dislike of the superintendent?
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.
Lawmakers have sidestepped a decision on whether they accept claims from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration that the state closed last year's books with a nearly $179 million surplus.
Coming off the high of a fourth quarter comeback against Tampa Bay and a helpful bye week, linebacker Junior Galette sees a real turnaround coming for New Orleans' struggling defense.
Former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party's most popular surrogate this fall, is heading to Louisiana early next week for a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Time and again you hear people say DA Mike Harson is unbeatable because he's doled out political favors over the past 20 years. But a new lawsuit could end that speculation.
After the season's signature win (so far), here are some helpful tips for Cajun Nation during the conference stretch.
Did the state close last year's books with a surplus or a deficit?
Practicing without limitations on Wednesday, running back Mark Ingram looked ready to return to a New Orleans offense that once again ranks among the NFL's best when the Saints play at Detroit on Sunday.
It’s been decided: Superintendents of Louisiana’s public school system will retain the controversial powers granted by Act 1 of the 2012 session.
Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy has a bone to pick with the Jindal administration, which recently — surprise! — announced that the state ended the most recent budget year with a $178.5 million dollar surplus.
The messaging battle, however, isn't tied to individual campaign accounts. Third-party groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising.
With her political future in jeopardy, Sen. Mary Landrieu is turning to a natural constituent base in her re-election bid.
Terrance Broadway threw for a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards to lead Louisiana-Lafayette to a 34-10 victory over Texas State on Tuesday night.
Aligned with the party of an unpopular president, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu sought to keep her distance from the Obama administration, against claims from her chief Republican challenger Bill Cassidy that a vote to re-elect the Democratic incumbent was a vote for Barack Obama.
Seven people in Louisiana and two others in Mississippi have been arrested in connection with an international online sales scam.
Despite the hype and potential misinformation to have spread in the wake of Mark Cockerham’s recent departure from the LPSB, his candidacy for reelection is still on — now with the backing of the Chamber's Empower PAC.