A judge has ordered the seizure and sale of The Filling Station in downtown Lafayette, a year and a half after former restaurant-bar changed owners.
The owner, Mark Alleman, owes H&B Equity Partners LLC the principal loan amount of $350,000, plus more than $36,000 in interest, according to a lawsuit H&B filed last month. A 15th Judicial District Court judge on Feb. 14 ordered the Sheriff’s Office to seize and sell the property at 900 Jefferson Street without appraisal.
Alleman, who owns the Hook and Boil restaurant in Broussard, also owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the seller, James Suire, and to J.P. Morgan Chase, according to a lawsuit filed filed against Alleman on Jan. 8.
Chase is seeking to foreclose on Alleman’s Broussard restaurant, which Alleman used as collateral to obtain a $249,700 loan about six weeks after acquiring The Filling Station. Alleman owes close to $235,000 on that loan, according to the lawsuit.
Suire said in an interview he has been in touch with Alleman and is not suing him.
“The only thing we talk about is our deal. I don’t talk about the property and what his business situation is,” Suire said on Friday. “I don’t have any hard feelings or anything.”
Alleman told The Advocate last month, prior to H&B filing its lawsuit, that he would soon clear up his financial difficulties, at which time he could discuss his plans for the former Conoco gas station that most recently served Tex-Mex fare. He did not respond to calls and text messages last week.
“There’s no denying the public facing side of this project hasn’t gone as I’ve originally planned, but there’s a whole lot we’ve gained from it behind the scenes and it’s a really neat way for it to all come together,” Alleman said in a Feb. 6 text message.
Alleman shuttered the business soon after acquiring it in September 2016. He told The Daily Advertiser after the sale that he planned to turn The Filling Station into another Hook and Boil seafood restaurant with a rooftop bar. While working on the building interior in December 2016, he told The Advocate he hoped to have boiled crawfish ready the following month.
The H&B Equity Partners mortgage, which carries a 20 percent interest rate, is dated Sept. 20, 2016, the day Alleman closed the sale. A sale document shows a price of $280,000, but Suire said the complete deal for the real estate as well as the business was for more. He declined to provide the combined sale price.
Suire said Alleman gave him a down payment, and that he financed the remainder of the purchase. Alleman owed Suire $375,000 at the time of the sale, according to a mortgage document. Suire declined to say if Alleman has made any payments. He said he'd last spoken with Alleman in early February.
The Filling Station, which retains its original Conoco signage and 1950s-era decor, is one of several defunct properties that Lafayette leaders hope will be part of a rejuvenated downtown in coming years. Rock n’ Bowl plans to open across the street at 905 Jefferson Street within weeks, and Mayor-President Joel Robideaux’s administration is soliciting ideas from private developers for the old federal courthouse one block away.
“The Filling Station is such a prominent location,” Downtown Development Authority chief executive Geoff Dyer said in an email. “We’re eager to get that property back into commerce.”