The City-Parish Council agreed Tuesday to give a break on property taxes to a technology firm considering transforming old Jefferson Street Market downtown into offices for some 200 employees.
Missouri-based technology consulting firm Perficient announced plans last year to open offices in Lafayette.
If Perficient moves forward with the downtown location, it would become the second major technology company to set up shop along Jefferson Street, following Canadian firm CGI’s recent move into the The Daily Advertiser’s former location a few blocks away.
The council voted 6-3 to approve a restoration tax abatement for the Perficient project, a move that freezes property taxes at their current level for five years, meaning improvements made during renovations will not bring a higher tax bill.
Councilman William Theriot questioned why city-parish government would pass on the prospect of more tax revenue at a time when local government has so many unfunded needs.
“I understand that we want companies to come in, but to what extent,” he said. “In the end, who ends of paying for it? All of us do.”
Theriot was joined by councilmen Jared Bellard and Andy Naquin in opposing the tax abatement.
Councilmen Kenneth Boudreaux, Jay Castille, Kevin Naquin, Brandon Shelvin, Don Bertrand and Keith Patin supported it.
The Jefferson Street Market building was once filled with small arts and antique shops and most recently served as a temporary home for the downtown library for four years.
The space became available earlier this year when the downtown library moved back into a newly renovated facility.
About $1.6 million in renovations are planned to turn the 24,500-square-foot space into offices, according to documents filed with the council.
The property tax bill will be frozen at about $14,500 a year for the next five years, a payment based on the building’s current market value of about $1 million, according to the documents.
“You still pay taxes, but you are paying the rate you pay today,” said Downtown Development Authority CEO Nathan Norris, who has been involved negotiations to bring Perficient downtown.
He said the tax breaks help ease the pain of the extensive work needed on a building now considered to be of “mediocre quality.”
Norris said Perficient is seeking an urban setting for its workforce, something that isn’t found here outside of the downtown area.