Lafayette could replace Heymann Performing Arts Center, 61

Political stars are lining up for a new performing arts center in Lafayette to replace the 61-year-old Heymann Performing Arts Center.

Local leaders and political heavyweights are crafting a proposal to build a new venue, largely with state funds, that could pass Lafayette voters as early as fall 2022.

Details are far from being finalized, according to former Lafayette mayor-president Joel Robideaux, who has already served three terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives and is leading a group of local actors in shaping the proposal. But a plan is in the works.

The push was prompted by concerns last year that the Heymann Center could be sold without a replacement plan in place after current Mayor President Josh Guillory allowed neighboring General Ochsner Lafayette to assess the building in what has become a well-kept secret at the town hall.

Former mayor-president of Lafayette Joël Robideaux

Following:Does Lafayette General want to buy the Heymann Center? The mayor authorized the evaluation

“We wanted to put to bed the narrative that the Heymann was going to be sold and that we would be without a performing arts center for a while,” Robideaux said.

So far, three informal stakeholder committee meetings have taken place with Guillory, President of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Joseph Savoie, and local art leaders. Robideaux said a fourth meeting this fall to wrap up board members is in the works.

“These meetings had to go beyond everyone talking about them. Let’s put a plan into action and say, “This is what we’re going to do. If we go to the voters with something, then let’s see what we have to go to the voters with, ”he said.

An economic feasibility study is underway in partnership with the Lafayette Economic Development Authority to determine what type of performing arts center to build and where to build it, Robideaux said, or whether the renovation of the current building is feasible.

“We’re sort of at the point where we know location is going to be a big deal. How we pay for it is going to be a big deal. So at the last meeting we put LEDA on a loop… just to say that we would like LEDA to help pay for a third party analysis on what Lafayette needs, ”Robideaux said.

UL President Joseph Savoie throws as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette held their annual reunion parade at Cajun Field on Saturday, October 30, 2021.

“But the reality is that until this economic analysis is done on location and funding and what is a reasonable performing arts center for our sizable community, we are really in a situation of waiting until this is completed, “he added.

Given previous studies on building a new performing arts center, the analysis of what is needed for a new one should be done in a few months, Robideaux said, beyond which any action would come from UL and elected officials, rather than the informal committee of stakeholders.

While the plan, first reported by The Current, is still in its infancy, some aspects have been broadly defined, including how to pay for the project, which could cost between $ 65 million and $ 100 million depending on the company. ‘where the new facility is being built and how large and feature-rich it is,’ Robideaux said.

Most of the funding will come from state capital spending, which Robideaux said the Local Leaders Commission has secured verbal commitments from local lawmakers to support.

Mayor of Lafayette President Josh Guillory

These funds would be bolstered by a local counterpart of 25%, which could be paid with a dedicated short-term sales tax of 1 cent in the town of Lafayette, similar to the tax used to build the new terminal at the regional airport in Lafayette.

Right now, a 1 cent sales tax for the city of Lafayette releases between $ 36 million and $ 42 million per year, which means that the speculative tax of 1 cent for a new performing arts center does not probably wouldn’t need to run for a whole year, if voters and local leaders approve of it.

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This part of the proposal is perhaps on the quickest timeline, as the informal stakeholder committee will need to convince Lafayette city council to approve the addition of the proposal to the November 8, 2022 ballot before the deadline of June 22, 2022 of the state to do so. .

Later, the vote would be pushed back to 2023 and synchronized closely with the re-election campaigns of Guillory and the two Lafayette councils. Politicians generally prefer to avoid running for office on the same ballot as the tax proposals.

While passing a new tax in the near term may prove to be an uphill battle, figuring out where to build the new performing arts center is proving to be an equally important challenge, as a handful of options are on the table. Table.

Two prominent options stand out, however, as UL’s master plan includes space for a new performing arts center at the west corner of Cajundome Boulevard and Congress Street, while the will to put the new installation in the city center can also have legs.

Robideaux said the decision should be guided by the feasibility study and community feedback over the next few months, and that other options, such as the former Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center on St. Landry Street and the old Acadian Hills Country Club near highways 10 and 49, are not off the table.

Follow Andrew Capps on Twitter or send an email to acapps@theadvertiser.com.



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