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Costco Agreement Could Bring Infrastructure Improvements To South Lafayette

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News

South Lafayette should be getting a Costco late next year, and traffic relief could likely come with it.

The PILOT agreement — or “payment in lieu of taxes” — means that during the development’s construction, money generated by its commercial property taxes would directly fund about $8.5 million in infrastructure improvements around the congested area of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Kaliste Saloom Road. That’s where the hundred-million-dollar, Costco-anchored shopping center will be built, and improvements to the area could include drainage, additional roadways and even a new police substation.

City-Parish President Joey Durel says the agreement with Stirling Properties, which also developed the Target-anchored center on Louisiana Avenue, offers a cost-efficient way to get things done for the city’s traffic problems.

“I’m trying to find cheap solutions for the traffic problems in this community,” Durel said.

Stirling Properties representative Ryan Pecot told the council at its meeting Tuesday the improvements could reduce traffic by up to 11 percent on Kaliste Saloom and up to 7 percent on Ambassador, even accounting for all the new shoppers that will be in the area.

“This is about creating a new arterial road system that alleviates problems,” Pecot said.

But cash-strapped entities that could benefit from the property tax money, like the sheriff’s department and the school system, won’t see a dollar until the development starts producing sales tax revenues.

"I’m trying to find cheap solutions for the traffic problems in this community."

Former state Rep. Ron Gomez and his wife, Carol Ross (who appears on KPEL’s “Wingin’ It Wednesday” segments), spoke in opposition to the agreement.

“These kinds of deals are inherently unfair to those who have no power…to extract these kinds of favors from government,” Ross said.

Gregory Reggie, who spoke on behalf of the Boustany family — who owns the 125-acre tract of undeveloped land that will house the Costco center — said the property remained undeveloped for so long because of the infrastructure gains needed in that area.

“There are traffic, drainage and utility issues that are larger than a landowner can deal with,” Reggie said.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to back the agreement, even though the city’s Industrial Development Board — headed by Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux — could have moved forward with the plan without the council’s approval.

Because no one with the IDB or LEDA was present at the meeting to answer questions, council Members Jared Bellard, Andy Naquin and William Theriot voted against the resolution, saying they wanted more information on the city’s options before backing the proposal.

The development will also be a joint venture with Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates, the same Tennessee entity that owns the Acadiana Mall.


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