Gonzales’ Industrial Development Board accepted three responses to a January 25 Request for Proposals to acquire acreage for the Performing Arts, Conference & Events (PACE) Center yesterday. One of four submissions was rejected for nonconformity with the RFP, leaving Carlisle Resorts, Tower Capital Holdings, and DD of Louisiana to battle it out on March 8 when the Board reconvenes for oral presentations. The Board will score those presentations and make a recommendation to the City Council which will make the final decision on March 11.
Carlisle Resorts is proposing five acres next door to Cabela’s, offering to “donate” 2.98 acres of the requisite property. Its bid for the remaining two acres is $1.3 million. By letter dated February 25 the proposal explained:
“As part of the proposal, Cabela’s Retail LA, LLC would gift the City of Gonzales +/-3.0 acres of its north-west parking field, valued at over $2,000,000, conditioned upon the Gonzales Industrial Board’s agreement and support of Cabela’s repurchase and the IDB’s conveyance of the property Cabela’s currently leases from the Gonzales IDB, to occur on or before May 1, 2019.”
No one present at Wednesday’s meeting had a firm grasp of the implications. The Board requested assistance from the City Attorney and specialists with Adams & Reese, a Louisiana mega-firm also employed by the second applicant, Tower Capital Holdings.
“This caught me, and it seems everyone else by surprise,” said Mayor Barney Arceneaux. “I would prefer professional legal advice before consideration of giving up Industrial Development’s rights to the subject property, ownership intended to last through 2037 per the terms of the agreement which brought Cabela’s to the City of Gonzales.”
That is due to the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement that brought Cabela’s to Gonzales originally. The argument could be, and sort of was, made that Carlisle Resorts’ was not responsive to the RFP which read:
Ideally, the city is looking for a respondent who is willing to donate or offer to sell to the City a five acre tract of land, at or below appraised value, in consideration of the enhanced value the project brings to surrounding property. The respondent’s willingness to set aside an adjoining five acres for a reasonable period of time for third-party placement of a full service hotel is also an important consideration.”
The “parking field” comprising +/- 3.0 acres of the proposal is used by other businesses near Cabela’s pursuant to a separate agreement. The proposal ignored the RFP’s call for an additional five acres envisioning a companion hotel.
Mayor Arceneaux wondered whether, if the Board acceded to Carlisle Resorts’ request and its proposal was not ultimately accepted, would the owner of Cabela’s be free to sell its property; property over which the Board has control until 2037 pursuant to the original agreement.
“I’m not so sure its proposal conformed to the RFP issued last month,” the Mayor added.
The proposal received the highest preliminary score, (91 out of 100), but without these issues being considered.
Tower Capital Holdings’ proposal lacked acreage for a companion hotel too. The five acres, abutting S St. Landry Road a .5 mile or so north of Ascension Parish’s Lamar Dixon Expo Center, is being offered for $925,650. Ownership’s development came with the same TIF benefits/restrictions as Carlisle Resorts and issues with a pipeline servitude were not publicly discussed on Wednesday.
Its preliminary score was “82.”
DD of Louisiana received a preliminary score of “89” after offering land acquisition for $1.5 million. It would be the centerpiece of a larger development called Heritage Crossing where infrastructure is being installed presently. Located within the triangle formed by I-10, Hwy 30, and Burnside Ave (Hwy 44), the proposal allows multiple access points. A major selling point is…
“great traffic connectivity offering several points of entry. It is situated at the crossroads of Hwy 30 and Hwy 44, with easy access to I-10.” Heritage Crossing’s plans include $4,200,000 worth of street infrastructure for the city, including a key element of Gonzales’ recently adopted Master Transportation Plan; a road linking Burnside/Hwy 44 to S Darla St (to the west) which runs north to Hwy 30.