No brainer: PACE Center should be located at Heritage Crossing

Heritage Crossing (rendering)

Tomorrow morning Gonzales’ Industrial Development Board is scheduled to make its site recommendation for a new Performing Arts, Conference & Events (PACE) Center to the City Council.  Three applicants responded to a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued in January but only one was truly responsive.  For that, and many other reasons, Heritage Crossing should be the choice.

It is a no-brainer.

Gonzales Board to consider three sites for PACE Center

The RFP reads:

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.”

Two applicants, neither of whom submitted fully responsive proposals, would locate…

west of I-10 in the city’s hinterlands where we tax those daily passers-by traversing Hwy 30 on the way to petrochemical plants, visitors to Tanger Outlet Center and Cabela’s.  Neither Carlisle Resorts or Tower Capital Holdings included acreage for the “full-service hotel” envisioned by the RFP.  DD of Louisiana fully complied within its plans for Heritage Crossing.

Along with the Airline, Hwy 30 is the Jambalaya Capital of the World’s revenue generator which pays for all those services we citizens have come to know and love.

Gonzales sewer treatment (something the parish is striving toward mightilty)

Water, sewer, and (my personal favorite) twice weekly trash pickup including white goods and anything else left on the curb.  Let’s not forget Gonzales PD and our wonderful Fire Department.

It’s all attributable to the traffic on Hwy 30 to one degree or another.  And, yes, traffic congestion is part of the equation, a necessary evil if our city is going to provide all these services.  By the way, recent expansion of the petrochemical industry with all those new jobs is the real culprit.  Gonzales’ population, according to the most recent Census estimate is approximately 10,775 while daily traffic count numbers just under 20,000 for the one-mile stretch of Hwy 30 from Ashland Rd to Tanger’s entrance.

It is not Gonzales’ citizens who clog Hwy 30 during drive time.

Contrarily, the PACE Center is being built for those citizens.  It should be as accessible to our citizenry as possible, not lost in a cacophony of car horns and shouts of “order up” from a nearby beanery.  PACE Center should not be located anywhere near Lamar Dixon Expo Center either.

The last time your writer attended an event there it took 48 minutes to arrive from his Hwy 30 residence 2.4 miles away.  If PACE is sited on St. Landry Rd as one respondent wants, this citizen will likely never see the inside of it.

The artist’s rendering will have to do.

Heritage Crossing’s developers would make the glistening new structure the centerpiece of its development, accessible from Hwy 44/Burnside Ave where another I-10 exit can handle additional traffic much more easily than Hwy 30’s.  The fact that DD of Louisiana is investing $4.2 million in road infrastructure aimed at diverting traffic to Burnside should, all by itself, seal the deal for Heritage Crossing.  The fact that DD of Louisiana is paying to build other infrastructure is a bonus.

We have an awful going for us in the City of Gonzales, all made possible by healthy sales tax collection.  Gonzales doesn’t see a penny of those property taxes from those petrochemical plants upon which Ascension Parish relies.  Locating PACE near Hwy 44/Burnside will boost another commercial corridor, attracting desirable retail and office space.  Every factor points to Heritage Crossing as the site for PACE.