Carolyn Roy | News Editor
Developers who own River South Commons shopping center on South Drive confirmed Monday at the City Council meeting that Big Lots will be the anchor tenant and occupy some 35,000 square feet between Good Will and Affordable Homes in the former Steele’s location.
Big Lots is a discount-closeout corporation with headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and over 1,400 locations nationally. The company website boasts competitive hourly wages, 20 percent off almost everything in the store and 30 percent off indoor and outdoor furniture.
River South Commons co-owner and developer Jeff Thomas said the store is scheduled to open in September and hire 30-40 full-time employees.
Thomas said two tenants who will occupy the former Stage space are scheduled to open the same week as Big Lots. One space will have 22,000 square feet and the other 15,000 square feet. He will announce those names as soon as agreements are final.
The City Council adopted the ordinance creating the economic development zone for the new stores and defining the limits of the zone. At the March 14 meeting, the council will introduce an ordinance allowing the district to collect an additional tax in that district only an economic incentive to the new businesses.
The council adopted another resolution to foster economic development by approving a cost-sharing agreement with Chick-fil-A. The City will share costs of infrastructure related to traffic and drainage for the proposed restaurant at the corner of East Fifth and Keyser Avenue. Director of Community Development Randy LaCaze said that is a way to assist developers with requirements from La. DOTD that are not usual costs.
The improvements will include construction of a secondary drive onto Keegan Street to offer access to the traffic light at East Fifth; consolidation of four existing curb cuts at that location; and construction of an underground detention system to minimize storm water impact.
According to the ordinance, the City will spend no more than $100,000.
Director of Planning and Zoning Shontrelle Roque will present an ordinance at the March 14 meeting asking the council to begin demolition proceedings against the Hopeville Apartments on Second Street. She showed pictures of the deteriorating structure that has been an on-going problem for the City for about five years. It was in ruins until the City began demolition action and developers wanted to reclaim it for tax credits.
The current City Council, in a split vote, decided to give developers another chance to improve the apartments and rescinded the demolition order. Promises by developers to improve the apartments never materialized.
Roque said the structures are beyond repair and contain black mold. Even some updates remained open to the elements and she showed pictures of insulation that fell out. She recommended demolition.
One of the final ordinances adopted concerned proposed demolition of 10 structures. Roque said that one structure at 918 Bayou Jacko burned with suspicion as to why it burned. It is owned by Jafar F. Al-Sharab of 116 Watson Dr.
Owners cleaned another structure at 225 Gibson.
Roque said demolition of the remaining structures will begin in 30 days.
The council adopted an ordinance to designate $500,000 from the American Rescue Plan to the Natchitoches Police Department. The main focus will be reducing gun violence.
The council also adopted an ordinance that will increase the commercial water rate for Northwestern State and Pilgrim’s Pride.
The next City Council meeting will be March 14.
Carolyn Roy | News Editor