OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council on Wednesday created a special economic district for commercial and residential projects south of Opelousas with plans to finance a $25 million event center.
The Harry Guilbeau Area Economic District covers a 730-acre undeveloped tract of land along the Interstate 49 service road and Harry Guilbeau Road, a several mile, two-lane paved stretch of highway that connects I-49 with La. 182 about 4 miles south of the city.
Officials will have the authority to collect an additional 2-cent hotel and retail sales tax within the district to finance a multipurpose events center planned northwest of Harry Guilbeau Road.
The cost of the events center is estimated at about $25 million, said Bill Rodier, executive director of the St. Landry Economic and Development District.
The Opelousas Board of Aldermen approved a similar ordinance creating the district because the city plans to annex nearly all of the property in the proposed district, Parish President Bill Fontenot said.
Fontenot said the district will include both commercial and residential developments.
Fontenot said the 2-cent sales tax within the district will be in addition to a 2-cent sales tax that voters approved last October in the unincorporated areas to fund parish road improvements.
Fontenot said Wednesday’s meeting was necessary in order to meet a Nov. 1 deadline to apply for about $200,000 in state capital outlay funding for proposed development within the district. The capital outlay request will be used for what he called initial planning costs such as architectural and use study fees.
Rodier said after the meeting there is already sufficient interest from commercial developers to justify creation of the district.
In a related matter, the council approved a resolution to establish a seven-member Crowne Parc Joint Commission, which will have three members appointed by the Opelousas Board of Aldermen and another four appointed by the parish council.
The purpose of the commission, Fontenot said, is to oversee the collection of the sales tax within the economic district and to oversee planned private and commercial projects.