PORT ALLEN — The City Council on Wednesday amended its 2014-15 budget, allocating $200,000 in additional sales tax revenue toward a batch of projects that include the demolition of the old City Hall building on Jefferson Avenue.
The city is set to pay a contractor $40,000 to bulldoze the building, which has been vacant since the council and city administration moved to its complex on Court Street, near the Mississippi River levee, in 2007.
Terry Vincent, Port Allen’s director of public works, said demolition crews will begin tearing down the old structure sometime this month.
City leaders on Wednesday did not have any definitive plans for the lot, part of which the city owns, but said the council is in preliminary discussions about what to do with the land once the building has been leveled.
City officials for years have discussed renovating the dilapidated building — possibly using it as a new headquarters for the city’s police department — but those talks fizzled in August after an architect revealed the structure was falling apart and posed a threat to the public.
Justin Altazan, president of Baton Rouge-based Third Coast Architecture, told the City Council the building had numerous structural issues and that there were five types of mold — including black mold — in the building as well as areas containing asbestos that could pose a health hazard.
In his report, Altazan gave what he called a “best guess” estimate of $551,500 to renovate the building, using a “very liberal cost” of $65 per square foot.
Also included in the council’s batch of new projects is $60,000 worth of sidewalk improvements for Avenues A and B, and a planning firm’s overhaul of the city’s zoning ordinances, at a cost of $100,000.
Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere said financing for the projects was made possible through more than $250,000 in surplus from sales tax revenue.
“This is extra money; we’re not dipping into any funds to do these projects,” he said. “During the first three quarters of the year, sales tax revenues have been up about $90,000 a month.”
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