Gonzales takes step toward PACE Center construction; proceeding with Silverleaf demolition

Artists rendering of PACE Center

On Monday Gonzales’ City Council introduced the ordinance “authorizing issuance” of (not to exceed) $4.5 million in bonds to partially construct the Performing Arts, Conference & Events Center.  Approved by Louisiana’s Bond Commission in March, the bonds will fund just over 60% of the total estimated construction cost, $7.4 million.  The bond amount is secured by revenues generated by a 2% Hotel Occupancy tax approved in 2018 with additional revenue sources including the $1.5 million paid by the family of Price LeBlanc for naming rights.

With a fixed interest rate of 3.88%, annual debt service on the full bond amount is anticipated to be between $340-345,000.  Interest does not begin to accrue until some or all of the bond amount is drawn down.  The city’s intention is to expend those other revenues to avoid interest payments/servicing of debt as long as possible.

The city is targeting July for commencement of construction.

Gonzales targets July for commencement of PACE Center construction

In other business the Council voted to proceed with demolition of the structures on Silverleaf Street, held up for a month or so by the lawsuit filed by Lathan Construction, the low bid which was rejected as non-responsive.  On December 3, 2020 Gonzales received four bid packets to demolish the structures, a repetitive flooding problem area beyond the city’s (and East Ascension Drainage Commission’s) ability to fix.  The contract was awarded to Concrete Busters of Louisiana.

City Attorney Matthew Percy requested that an item be added to Monday’s agenda, “declaring a state of emergency on Silverleaf which has quickly become a threat to public safety…

Silverleaf Street

“It’s downright scary,” Percy said without unnecessary elaboration.  Even if Lathan’s lawsuit is successful, liability exposure is limited to lost profits incurred by the plaintiff on its $587,852.  Whatever the potential amount, potential liability created by the worsening conditions on Silverleaf far exceeds it according the the City Attorney.