Hopeville Apartments saga continues
Carolyn Roy | News Editor
Perhaps it wasn’t the most significant news at City Council Monday but it was the most exciting for many there including Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. Chick-fil-A plans to open a full-size restaurant at the corner of East Fifth and Keyser according to attorney Mark Thomas who represented Liscotti Development Corp. in its request to rezone the property from B-1 Commercial to B-2 special exception to operate from 5 a.m. until 12 a.m. The vote on the zoning change will come at the Jan. 10 meeting.
In a Zoom conference, developers said it should open in the fourth quarter of 2022. Of more consequence was not-so-good information about the Hopeville Apartments on Second Street. James Threatt, a representative of Real Estate Asset Development in Kansas City, Mo., said his company hopes to restructure the financing for the project that has cost Sterling Bank $3.7 million and the equity investor $500,000. At risk is $5 million in tax credit equity.
The problem appears to be $5.2 million in estimated construction costs, or $130,000 per unit. Threatt described the project as one that went off the rails early on and his company hopes to find a way to put it back on. The first challenge will be to get pre-construction financing. Threatt said should the project go forward, the unit would be similar to The Quad, or former Frog Pond Apartments, on University Parkway.
Councilman Dale Nielsen asked for a timeline. Threatt said a market study for potential investors should be available in 30 days with a closing to follow in 60 days if financing is secured. He hopes to provide an answer to the City in two weeks about whether the project will continue. But Threattt acknowledged the timing was vague. “We’re almost starting over,” he said.
If he cannot get financing, the bank will assign the property to the City with hopes there will be a better solution than demolition. There was introduction of an ordinance authorizing the purchase of 34 acres on La. Hwy. 478, or Waterwell Road, from Elizabeth S. Arthur for $84,000.
A test water well at that site was successful. Chief-of-Staff Edd Lee said when the rehabilitation of water treatment plant #3 takes place, wells will provide additional water to the City. Wells will also provide water to Powhatan as part of a state grant. The wells will produce an additional 300,000 gallons a day with 20,000 per day going to Powhatan. It will provide a net increase of 280,000 per day to the City.
Several resolutions were introduced. They include:
•Approved leasing fiber optics capability to JBL Communications
•Approved contract with Employers Risk Management as the third party administrator for the City’s workers’ compensation. The City is self-insured and must have a third party administrator.
•Authorized agreement with La. DOTD to build agricultural apron at Natchitoches Regional Airport. The apron will facilitate a ramp and wash area that will be paid for by a grant from La. DOTD of between $450,000 and $500,000 or 100 percent.
•Authorized intergovernmental agreement between the Fire District 6 and the City and Parish fire districts to facilitate application for funds to buy new radios that are 10 years old and are at end-of-life.
•Authorized support for grant to buy bumper gear for firefighters. Bumper gear is used to fight interior fires. The existing gear is 10 years old and will be retained so personnel will have a second set.
•Authorized contracting with Midwest Employers Casualty Company for excess workers’ compensation coverage that is used for large claims.
•Authorized Cothren Graff and Smoak Inc., to submit grant to Love Louisiana Outdoors Grant Program for engineering for walking trail and restroom improvements at Richardson Park.
The next council meeting will be Jan. 10.