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Residents and leaders excited about Less Pay demolition

Posted at 7:36 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 20:36:13-04

A neglected area of Lafayette is about to see new life.

The Less Pay Motel, an eyesore for decades, is now being demolished. Crews plan to have demo complete within a week and residents say getting to this point was not an easy task.

Rose Breaux is from the Four Corners neighborhood and knew this day would come.

"It's been here a long time," Breaux said. "There's no value. So, it's time to come down, it's time to move forward and it's time to have something here worth the city."

Lafayette resident Wallace Senegal said, "The reconstruction is really going to change the visibility of the Four Corners and it's going to make people want to come to Lafayette."

New Orleans based developers HRI Communities plans to transform the area into 150 lofts with a leasing preference towards artists. Along with the demolition of the motel, the old Coca-Cola Bottling building next door will be renovated.

Josh Collen, President of HRI Communities said, "We're going to have 40 apartments in the existing coca-cola bottling plant in phase one. That will be open in a year. Last week, we received funding for our second phase which will be right here along University and will be another 65 apartments."

Before the heavy equipment was moved in and demolition could begin, developers had to take care of some environmental issues.

"We did have to do asbestos abatement...ceilings, roofs...a lot of that had asbestos in it. So now that that is complete, within a week there will be no more Less Pay," Collen said.

The project has received some criticism after the Lafayette City Council approved a $1.5 million loan for the project, giving the developer 45 years to pay it back.

Mayor-President Josh Guillory was one of those critics of the process, but said this project is something to celebrate.

"This is an area of town that has been dis-invested for decades and it's one of the pieces of the puzzle of a bigger overall picture and I'm excited," Guillory said.

Collen said, "This block was one of the most challenging blocks in the entire state. So changing it from a negative, blighted state to a completely catalytic one requires some support and we really do appreciate the city, the Acadiana Planning Commission and the State."

Guillory expects to see more improvements along the University Avenue corridor. He said the city is working on Congressional grants to continue revitalization projects.