The Jindal administration is rethinking its plan to sell the Capitol Park Welcome Center after running into legislative resistance.
“Legislators have expressed concerns about the sale of the welcome center and its proximity to the Capitol complex,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Wednesday. “We are listening to those concerns and evaluating our options.”
The administration planned to sell the little-used welcome center and adjacent parking garage and sought required approval through the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committees.
The House panel tabled the proposed sale last week amid questions about the soundness of the decision to sell off Capitol Complex property. The subject was on the committee agenda again Wednesday but the panel adjourned without taking action. The Senate panel has not scheduled a meeting on the subject.
Nichols said the administration may opt to move with sale of the parking garage alone.
The Welcome Center, which the appraisal notes “has been constructed on a historically significant site,” has been valued at $7.34 million.
Located at 702 River Road, it is next door to the Pentagon Barracks, which is on the National Historic Register.
The nearby parking garage is between Lafayette Street and River Road. It 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 legislative committees must agree to declare the property surplus in order for the administration to proceed with the sale.
State Facility Planning and Control director Mark Moses has previously said that leasing is a possibility if the two properties do not get sufficient buyer interest or if the Legislature does not approve the sale.
Nichols said the Welcome Center, opened in 2007, was not being used enough to justify the taxpayer expense for its operation. The 4,242-square-foot facility includes a theater space, meeting space and a patio with room for up to 600 people.
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