The owner of a historic building in Olde Towne persuaded the Slidell City Council this week to give him two more weeks to get the financing needed to renovate the structure that was left a brick shell after a 2011 fire.
The council was set to vote Tuesday on the demolition of 227 Cousin St., following its earlier vote to condemn the building. But instead of making a date with the wrecking ball, the council decided to give owner Gilbert Valencia a little more time, initially pushing the vote off until March 10 but then deciding to make a decision at its Feb. 24 meeting.
The City Council has been showing http://theadvocate.com/news/neworleans/10882067-148/slidell-officials-want-to-see//">increasing impatience with the state of the building, and members made clear to Valencia that he will need to have evidence in writing that he has the wherewithal to restore the building and bring it back into commerce.
The building has had many incarnations over the years, most notably as Minacapelli’s Dinner Theatre. It also has housed a grocery store, a hotel and several barrooms. At the time of the fire, it housed a bar called Club Phoenix.
Valencia told the council that he has a new partner and is days away from getting a loan to do the work. A contractor who had put a lien on the property has now agreed to do the project for the amount previously agreed upon, he said.
Valencia said he had hoped to bring the contractor to the meeting, but he was not able to attend.
City Attorney Bryan Haggerty acknowledged that the property owner has what he called “credibility issues.’’ But Haggerty said he spoke to an official at the bank who said he was optimistic that a loan would be approved on Feb. 23.
“I’m hearing great confidence,’’ said Councilman Glynn Pichon, who offered a motion to give Valencia until March 10 to get his plans together. He reminded the property owner that the city has been patient and wants to see the building brought back.
Councilman Bill Borchert, who has been most vocal in pressing for a resolution to the matter, offered an amendment to take the matter up on Feb. 24, when the council holds its second monthly meeting.
Pichon warned the property owner that if he fails to make a convincing case at the next meeting, with written evidence that the project is going forward, the council would order him to demolish the building within seven days.
Valencia, who owns the nearby Tacos and Beer, did not own the building when it burned.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter at @spagonesadvocat.