A legislative committee on Wednesday quickly, and without discussion, tabled a Jindal administration proposal to sell some State Capitol Complex property.
The administration had wanted to delay a vote until at least next week.
But the House Natural Resources Committee — in the last minutes of a five-hour meeting — voted 8-7 to stop, for now, the proposed sale of the Capitol Park Welcome Center and an adjacent parking garage.
No one from the administration was in the room when state Rep. Joe Harrison moved to scuttle the request.
“Why are we selling it? What advantage does it have for the state of Louisiana?” Harrison asked in a later interview. “Are we giving away something we may need in the near future?
“We are selling everything surrounding us,” Harrison said, referring to the State Capitol building. “It doesn’t make sense.”
The Napoleonville Republican said too little information has been provided. “I told the department we need to see true value, the comparison of property in the area,” he said.
Another panel member, state Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, said some legislators just don’t want to sell more state property with “uncertain proceeds” propping up the state budget.
Harrison said he expects the property sale issue will likely be reconsidered next week.
The Legislature’s Natural Resources Committees must approve the property sales. The House panel had the subject on its agenda for Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the administration decided to delay committee consideration.
“We are working with members to ensure they have all of the information they need,” Division of Administration spokeswoman Meghan Parrish said Wednesday morning.
The Welcome Center, which the appraisal notes “has been constructed on a historically significant site,” has been valued at $7.34 million.
It is located at 702 River Road next to the Pentagon Barracks, which is on the National Historic Register.
The parking garage across the street has been appraised at $4.05 million. The administration has promised 300 free parking spaces to IBM in the structure that it now wants to sell. The agreement is cited in an appraisal document as a potential wrinkle in the garage sale.
The administration is seeking legislative approval to declare the property surplus, clearing the way for a sale.
Once approved, the state will have several options in how to proceed including sheriff’s sale auction, sealed bids or through a real estate broker.
On Tuesday, state Facility Planning and Control Director Mark Moses said leasing — instead of selling — the two properties remains an option if there is not sufficient interest in purchasing or the Legislature does not approve moving forward with the plan.
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