"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?"
The Louisiana Supreme Court has punted on its first chance to decide whether a new state constitutional provision declaring gun possession a fundamental right could void a long list of criminal statutes that regulate firearms.
New Orleans' offense, which ranks sixth in the NFL, isn't helping many of its skill players pile up Pro Bowl-type stats. Rather, the approach of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees has enabled a wide range of play-makers to emerge periodically with high-production outings.
An ordinance phasing out a rebate businesses receive for collecting and remitting sales taxes is tabled, but it doesn’t solve the vexing issue of government revenue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, December 12, 2013:
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
For the first time in at least five years, retired teachers, state workers and school system employees could see an increase in their pension checks.
Lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration shared a collective sigh of relief with the news that Louisiana's tax amnesty program brought in the $200 million that they used to help balance this year's budget.
Drew Brees often makes the extraordinary look routine, particularly during night games in the Superdome.
The teams were extended invitations Sunday for the New Year's Day matchup played at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If all 44 projects are approved, about $300 million would remain in the fund set up as a down payment to help the Gulf.
Last week, the Saints gave up 429 yards to Seattle, second most in a game this season.
Since Anthony Jennings and Brooks Haack were not expected to contribute until next year at the earliest, it seemed like a sneak peek at hidden Christmas gifts.
Louisiana National Guard personnel seeking benefits for same-sex spouses will have an easier time filing the requests, despite a state refusal to let its workers process the paperwork.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera sees one potential flaw with his team's stellar defensive play so far this season. "Apparently we like to bite on the double moves," Rivera said.
Computer hackers may have gained access to the personal information of thousands of Louisiana residents who use debit cards issued by JPMorgan Chase for three state agencies, authorities said Wednesday.
Jim Purcell, who has been in the job since February 2011, notified the Board of Regents about his decision at its monthly meeting.