The Buchanan Street parking garage, which is closed, is pictured Monday, March 9, 2020, in Lafayette, La.

The downtown property next to the Buchanan Street parking garage is back out for public bid, only this time the parking garage is not part of the deal.

Lafayette Consolidated Government put out a request for proposals for the two undeveloped parcels of land adjacent the parking garage recently after moving to allocated $3.5 million to repair the parking garage.

Last year LCG sought proposals for the land but asked developers to include plans for the six-story garage, but the four bids were rejected earlier this year.

This time, however, the biggest hindrance — an unsafe parking garage — is removed from the equation. 

Developers have until Nov. 2 to notify LCG of their intent to make a proposal. Plans must be submitted by Jan. 4.

“The parking garage served as an albatross for the last RFP,” said Anita Begnaud, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority. “It put the onus on the developer to finance the repairs for the garage, and it was unclear what the developer would be able to utilize the garage. This time around the garage is an asset to the developer.”

The garage will be done in two phases, Mayor-President Josh Guillory said, with the first to make it safe and reconstruct it before work crews sandblast it and install lighting.

The first floor the garage is currently being used by core personnel to free up on-street parking in that section of downtown, he said.

That section of downtown could be attractive for developers with the 68-unit development planned for the old federal courthouse across Jefferson Street. That project was to include space for commercial use, but developers are now asking to amend the proposal to make it solely residential, developer E.J. Krampe said.

Other businesses of late have opened from the 500 block of Jefferson Street to the Lee Avenue intersection despite a sluggish pandemic economy. Work has also begun on the sewer lift station along Second Street that allow for more residential development downtown. 

Two buildings on those parcels could each hold 70-90 units, DDA officials estimate.

“The other layers on top of that is the development happening across the street will activate that block,” Begnaud said. “There’s so much new activity. It will be a hot spot of residential development in downtown Lafayette. It really is an awesome opportunity.”

Of the four proposals submitted last time, two included plans for multiple-level, high density buildings with commercial space. Campion Devco, a women-owned firm from New Orleans, proposed seven-story buildings with apartments and townhomes.

Another proposal from Atlanta-based developer DreamHouse and partner Acadia Design + Development called for an $83 million project that called for a 10-level mixed use development with short-stay units, 271 apartments and almost 110,000 square feet of retail.

Contacted Wednesday, DreamHouse CEO John Whatley said his company remains interested in the opportunity to develop the space. A usable parking garage “does make it a little easier for us,” he said.

“It gives you a chance to build an anchor for the downtown area,” Whatley said of the opportunity. “You can drive commerce to that area, for one, and kind of create a vertical neighborhood where people can live, work and play in one location.

“I haven’t been to Lafayette since the pandemic. I’d be interested in making another visit and speaking with the board and the mayor to get a few updates to see how things are going.”

Claire Taylor contributed to this report. 

Acadiana Business Today: LCG seeking proposals to develop downtown property, but this time parking garage excluded

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