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Retail center gets Lafayette council support

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News,Business,Retail

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The Lafayette City-Parish Council has signed off on pledging an estimated $8.5 million in future property taxes to pay for roads, utility lines and other infrastructure needed for a 58-acre, high-end retail center.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1keOUxA ) Ambassador Town Center would be anchored by Costco, Dick's Sporting Goods, Field & Stream, Marshall's and Home Goods

Some council members and residents spoke against the proposal, questioning the use of public dollars to support a private project in an upscale area at a high-traffic intersection that would surely be developed with or without government help.

"The problem I have is the location. It is prime real estate," said Councilman Jared Bellard, one of three councilmen to oppose the measure.

City-Parish President Joey Durel said he is generally opposed to giving public assistance to private developments, but he believes the proposed retail project is exceptional and that if Lafayette doesn't offer some incentives to seal the deal, another community will.

"We have to decide: Do we want to compete or do we want to lay down," Durel said.

Approval by the council was not required to move the proposal forward. The resolution was more of an effort to obtain the council's blessing.

The details of the proposal are to be worked out by the Industrial Development Board, which has overseen similar deals in the past.

The general plan is to use property tax revenue from the retail center to repay the money used to build the infrastructure.

None of the money would be used for infrastructure within the development but rather for a long list of improvements required by the state before the developer is allowed to tie in to existing roads, such as drainage work, modifying intersections and adding new lanes, said Ryan Pecot, a commercial broker with Stirling Properties.

Private developers generally take on the cost of required infrastructure in and around a site, but the Ambassador Town Center is an unusually large development for Lafayette and faces millions of dollars in required infrastructure.

Durel said sales taxes generated by the business, which would still be collected, would more than make up for the property tax money used for infrastructure work.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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