Developer Tommy Spinosa Jr. said he won’t build infrastructure such as access roads, sewer and water lines to support a new library branch until the facility is under construction on land he has donated for it on Perkins Road southeast of College Drive.
Spinosa said Thursday he’s made it clear to library officials that he’s “not going to invest substantial sums in the infrastructure and wait for you to come.”
Library Director David Farrar did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment on what impact, if any, the developer’s position might have on the future of the library project.
Some Library Board of Control members, however, have expressed reservations about moving forward with building a new branch library at the site before the infrastructure is in place.
“This is not the agreement I thought we had with him,” board member Don Browning said. “I thought he was supposed to do all the infrastructure and we were just supposed to build a building.”
Spinosa donated land at Rouzan, a mixed-use residential and commercial development, for construction of a branch library. Spinosa also developed Perkins Rowe, a project that is now in foreclosure proceedings in U.S. District Court.
Assistant Parish Attorney Leo D’Aubin said the city-parish’s agreement with 2590 Associates LLC, the Spinosa company developing Rouzan, “does not state that the construction of the infrastructure is conditioned on the library beginning work on the building.”
To the contrary, D’Aubin said, a section of the agreement “suggests that the infrastructure will be completed before work begins on the library improvements.”
Another section includes timelines showing that infrastructure improvements were supposed to have been completed by the end of April.
Spinosa said in an interview that he’s done everything that’s been asked of him, including granting the library independent control and access to the site.
The developer said the library system owns the land “free and clear” and has been given street frontage on Perkins Road and temporary servitude to the site so there is no reason construction can’t commence.
“My infrastructure does not need to be there for the library to be built,” Spinosa said.
He added, “It is our intent to build that infrastructure but we’re not going to start it until we know the library is moving forward.”
Spinosa said the issue for him is one of allocating resources and capital.
He said he’s moving forward with developing the residential section of the development at the rear of the property. However, the commercial portion, where the library will be located, is taking longer because of economic conditions, Spinosa said.
“The retail world is struggling,” he said. “We’ve had some substantial activity but we don’t see that activated until 2012.”
He said there is no guarantee the library system will proceed with building a branch at his site and he doesn’t want to sink money into building infrastructure for that part of the land until it is required.
“I do anticipate that when they are ready to start, we’ll be ready to start,” Spinosa said.
The Library Board of Control had asked Spinosa to appear at its meeting Thursday to answer questions about the status of the Rouzan project.
In a letter to Farrar dated Oct. 11, Spinosa said he would not be able to attend because of a prior commitment.
He wrote that 2590 Associates is prepared to start “construction of the Rouzan Village Center infrastructure upon the commencement of the Library construction.”
His letter added that “it makes little sense for the infrastructure to be placed in advance of its intended use. The Library negotiated for and was granted Perkins Road frontage to facilitate the Library’s ability to commence construction at its pleasure.”
Spinosa also offered the board his staff’s assistance in obtaining a state permit that would allow the library system access to the building site from Perkins Road.