St. Landry

Nov 12, 2013 11:48 PM by Erin Steuber

Still No Decision on Hotel Debate in Opelousas

Another evening of debate in Opelousas over whether to adopt an ordinance creating a TIF district to bring in a new hotel. It's a vote that's failed twice before.

The ordinance, at the center of the debate, is designed to lure Hampton Inn to build a new hotel along I-49 near Creswell Lane. The ordinance would allow the city to collect an additional 2-percent tax to off-set the construction costs of the hotel. But now, a decision will have to wait until next month.

"Here we go again folks," said Mayor Donald Cravins.

It is an issue very familiar to the Opelousas Board of Alderman.

"It's a sad day that were fighting businesses to not come into our community," said an Opelousas business owner.

Tuesday night's agenda item was a last-ditch effort by Mayor Cravins to bring the proposal back from the ashes.

"We have spent money on hotels before," said Cravins.

The developer is asking the city for $850,000 for initial construction costs. The TIF would set up a 2-percent tax, paid for by hotel guests, to pay the city back. And it's something other hotels in the area are not happy about.

"My clients, and the other hotels that have spoken off and on, are saying if he wants to build a hotel, let him come and build a hotel," said an attorney for Holiday Inn. "It must be an important project because we keep coming back on it; But build it with your own money, not taxpayer money."

But TIF, or no TIF, the Opelousas-St. Landry Chamber of Commerce supports the idea of the new business opening in the city.

"I think that a city administration should do everything that it can to get new businesses here," said Frankie Bertrand, the CEO of the Opelousas-St. Landry Chamber of Commerce.

But some fear what might happen if the City of Opelousas does not act.

"Is it your position that the parish would be willing to create a TIF district there to accommodate building the facility?" said Cravins. "In fact we've already started the process," said a parish-councilman.

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