"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?"
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
San Fran wins the World Series; Sistine Chapel improvements; Kurds moving toward Syria and more national and international news for Thursday, October 30, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.
Off a narrow gravel road running between a handful of mostly abandoned lots near a Mississippi River levee, down past sprawling oak trees and thick weeds, a lectern framed by banana trees has been set up in front of three short rows of folding chairs.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to New Orleans this weekend to stir up voter support for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Saints coach Sean Payton has spent much of his team's erratic season trying to build his players up.
The Daily Advertiser has weighed in on this year's LPSB elections with nine endorsements.
The Daily Advertiser uncovers at least two disciplinary actions against veteran sheriff’s deputy Kip Judice for driving a department vehicle after drinking alcohol.
The LPSB has named Melinda Mangham as the interim replacement for the District 7 seat recently vacated by Mark Cockerham.
Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, insisted that a settlement is not on the table and a consent decree in exchange for a new processing fee is highly unlikely.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says he expects about half of Louisiana's 2.9 million registered voters to cast ballots for the Nov. 4 election.
While the Division of Administration, Treasurer John Kennedy and the legislative auditor spar over the validity of a $178.5 million surplus, and how it was calculated, some officials expect it to be up for grabs sooner or later.