Community service The Islamic Center of Lafayette helps pave the way for bus stop shelters.

It took one group text and less than 30 minutes for the Islamic Center of Lafayette to raise the $6,000 needed to build a covered bus shelter in front of the police station on Pinhook Road.

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A who’s who on the Pope trial witness list 

The characters in the trial are a reminder of just how zany the Pope saga has been over the past three years. Here’s a refresher on some of the role players.

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Current Calendar 9/26 – 10/2

This week: Fleetwood Mac Revisited gets revisited at DTA. Ulysses Owens takes his jazz odyssey to AcA. Documentary Date Night is ready for nerdy romance. The Acadiana Food Hub hosts a Farm to Table Showcase.

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The dangers of Loren Scott’s economic optimism

While one economist may be projecting the end of Lafayette’s recession, more context is needed to understand the situation our economy is in

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Bernhard tests the waters

Bernhard Capital Partners appears ready to make its pitch to the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority on Oct. 9.

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A defiant Marshal Pope faces new malfeasance charges

Despite an attorney general’s opinion that he can’t legally supplement his salary with city court fees, Marshal Brian Pope has continued to do just that, according to a new seven-count felony indictment.

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In making no statement on Drag Queen Story Time, the council sent a mixed message

In drafting the non-binding resolution on Drag Queen Story Time, William Theriot and Jared Bellard’s apparent intent was nakedly cynical: trap councilmen on a wedge issue as fodder for future politicking.

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Fashion strong: Morgan Pete The model, author and activist spreads the gospel of self love to Acadiana.

Last week, the semi-annual sartorial showcase known as New York Fashion Week, or #nyfw to those more digitally inclined, left a splattering of headlines in its wake. Beyond the predictable celebrity drama and season’s must-haves (hold on to your prairie dresses), the biggest cultural moments stemmed from who walked the runway — not just what they wore.

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Aug. 30, 2018, marked the fall of oil and (hopefully) the rise of tech in Lafayette

The day started with the news that LAGCOE was leaving for New Orleans and ended with a pitch competition that’s a symbol for a future where Lafayette is a hub for healthtech startups.

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Current Calendar 9/19-9/25

This week around Acadiana: Folksy blues at the Heymann Center, parking spaces come alive, Keith Frank does DTA, raising money for Cite des Arts, and an experiment in networked music making.

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Deadlines set for redevelopment of old federal courthouse

▸ The gist: Come Dec. 31, 2020, the old federal courthouse on Jefferson Street will be the site of a 68-unit apartment complex and 25,500 square feet of commercial space, along with a pool, clubhouse and common areas.

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▸ That’s the substantial completion date (certified by the architect) laid out in the terms of an ordinance scheduled for introduction to the City-Parish Council Sept. 18 with final adoption on Oct. 16. If the development team, Place de Lafayette and Weinstein Nelson Developers — doesn’t meet that deadline, it will face penalties of $10,000 a month, according to the ordinance, and even stiffer penalties, $25,000 per month, if it does not commence construction at the 2-acre site by July 1 of 2019. 

▸ Pending council approval, the long-vacant eyesore will be sold to the development group for the appraised price of $1.4 million, money that will be deposited into an escrow account and used by the city for environmental remediation and sewer upgrades. According to The Advocate, developers must cover the first $75,000 for removal of asbestos and any other hazardous materials, and they have the right to terminate the agreement if the city does not pay costs exceeding that amount. Lafayette Utilities System is planning $7 million in sewer upgrades over the next several years, which should address some of the pressing issues of sewer capacity Downtown, but the ordinance calls for the city to reimburse developers for any city-approved sewer work they might need to undertake.

▸ The impact: The project, which includes the adjoining old police department building on Jefferson Street and former AOC offices on E. Main Street, is of immense importance to redevelopment efforts Downtown. It will bring the first major residential component to the city’s core, a potential catalyst for more residential construction in the coming years. It’s also a signature accomplishment for City-Parish President Joel Robideaux, who is poised to break through the impasse that has plagued earlier attempts at bringing the spaces back into commerce — namely pushback from a well-connected courthouse crowd insistent on building a new parish courthouse at the site — with a speedy process that put the mayor himself in charge of choosing the development team. Work at the Jefferson Street site will be underway for all to see just as Robideaux is campaigning for re-election to his second term.

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Lafayette’s economy loses more than half a billion dollars in movable property in two years

The gist: Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux has just finished up the latest tax roll, confirming that Lafayette lost hundreds of millions of dollars in movable property since 2015.

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$559 million: That’s the total decrease in movable property in Lafayette from 2015 to 2017.

What does “movable property” mean? Movable property refers to the property owned by businesses other than real estate, things like equipment and inventory.

How big of a deal is this? Compared to the overall value of real and movable property in Lafayette Parish of more than $20 billion, we’re only talking about a loss of a couple of percentage points. But when you look at movable property on its own, the decrease is more like 10 percent. What this means is 10 percent less tax revenue generated by movable property, which adds up to millions of dollars of lost income for Lafayette Consolidated Government, the Lafayette Parish School System, the Lafayette Parish Courthouse, and every other organization that relies on property tax millages to fund their operations.

$10 million: That’s the amount the total assessable value of the property tax roll increased from 2016-2017. The reason for this is that real estate values have continued to hold steady or go up, which has offset the losses in movable property. But even here the numbers don’t look great as the total value of real estate in the parish rose more than $400 million to about $18 billion in total. That means the total residential and commercial real estate values in Lafayette Parish only increased a bit more than 2 percent. On average nationally, commercial property values increased more than 7 percent and residential property values more than 5 percent. Put another way, if real estate values in Lafayette Parish had increased 5 percent instead of 2 percent and if movable property values had just held even, the market value of our property tax roll would be about a billion dollars higher and generating more than $10 million in additional tax revenue for the aforementioned entities.

But this is all just about oil and gas, right? While these trends may have started in oil and gas, they’ve spread throughout Lafayette’s economy as retailers are stocking less inventory and banks are seeing deposits go down. And while the value of real estate has been keeping our heads above water, we’re likely to start seeing that area get hit as well, as vacancy rates are higher in apartment buildings and occupancy rates are lower in hotels, both of which can negatively impact the value of those buildings and therefore put downward pressure on property tax revenues for LCG.

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