St. Mary Community Action Agency became a partner almost a year ago in the venture first proposed by Investerra LLC two years ago.
CAA Chief Administrative Officer Almetra Franklin addressed the council Wednesday along with CAA Housing Director Jeff Beverly and Frank Alcaraz of Investerra.
“This is a gated upscale community for upper income folks,” Franklin said. “We promised you … that we would not do a low income development, that this was going to be for working people to encourage development … and we’re sticking to our word.”
Beverly said that the involvement of the Housing and Urban Development Agency will be limited to a loan guarantee.
Alcaraz said he feels that “a lot of people seem to be against this project.”
He added that he has said from the beginning that the project will be an upscale community not low-income housing.
He took offense at an opinion piece on the editorial page of the Banner-Tribune that reads, “We don’t need … low income housing in Garden City.” It does not refer to a specific project.
“This is shear lies, this needs to be retracted,” Alcaraz said.
Franklin said they would not want to devalue surrounding properties with a low-income type of development.
“I know they’re going to do a good job to make St. Mary a better place,” said Councilman Albert Foulcard of Franklin in reference to Franklin and Beverly’s track record in housing development.
As described in past meetings, the development is planned on 10 acres of land on La. 3215 off of La. 182 in Garden City. Plans call for an initial phase that would consist of 80 2- and 3-bedroom units with 24-hour security at the gate. The apartments would rent for $1,000 to $1,300 a month, according to Beverly, who estimated a $12 million construction cost for the initial phase.
The group indicated that financing has been arranged and the project is awaiting HUD approval of the loan guarantee.
Franklin has said in the past that the agency would be seeking funding through grants, tax credits and the state Housing Trust Fund.
The project would be eligible for a parish exemption of ad valorem taxes for seven years to developers of multi-family housing units.
Also, the parish has approved $3 million in industrial revenue bonds for infrastructure improvements surrounding the development.
In other business Wednesday, the council:
—Heard from State Rep. Sam Jones (D-Franklin) that he was successful in passing the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund for land acquisition to develop more public sites in the basin. The fund will grow to $10 million with $500,000 annual allocations. Along with updates on local road projects, Jones noted that he also was successful in passing House Bill 160 that provides a $75 per diem for each meeting up to 15 meetings per year attended for parish Planning and Zoning and Board of Adjustment board members.
—Received the 2010 fiscal year audit report from Guy Pitts of the Pitts and Matte CPA firm.
—Agreed to form a committee to review construction permits and license fees.
—Passed resolutions in support of Community Action Agency’s application for a fatherhood initiative grant from the Administration for Children and Families; granting preliminary approval to the issuance of up to $600,000 in certificates of indebtedness and application for same to the state Bond Commission; expressing thanks and appreciation to agencies, individuals, and others who assisted the parish during the recent flood threat; approving an election call by Recreation District 2, Morgan City area, on Oct. 22, to authorize the continuation of a special tax and the incurring of debt and issuance of bonds therein; on an engineering service agreement with T. Baker Smith LLC on the Cajun Land road and gas line infrastructure project in Amelia; on a cooperative endeavor agreement with Water & Sewer Commission 1 on construction and maintenance of the water sewer line projects in Amelia.
—Appointed James W. Bennett Jr. to the Planning and Zoning board; Stan Robison to Recreation District 3 and Vanessa Pinho to Recreation District 4.