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Photo by Bobby Ardoin

BOBBY ARDOIN
Contributing Writer

The City of Opelousas is seeking economic redevelopers interested in presenting business proposals that could bring a historic three-story downtown hotel back into commerce viability, according to a press release issued on Thursday.

Previously known as The Inn and The New Life Center, the building located in the center of Opelousas’ economic development district has been vacant for several years after it was donated to the city by a former school located in St. Martin Parish.

After commercial use of the building was discontinued, it was obtained by the Diocese of Lafayette, which located a woman’s shelter there.

A site tour of the building is scheduled Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Potential developers are urged to bring architects, engineers or any other personnel for a facility evaluation tour.

Site tour participants need to register for the tour by contacting St. Economic Development Director Bill Rodier via e-mail at BillR@stlandryed.com.

The deadline for RFP responses is 5 p.m. March 18, the press release said.

Since it’s donation by the school, city officials have been discussing ways to repurpose the building, whose original construction plans began in 1958, according to a St. Landry Chamber of Commerce history written by Carola Ann Hartley.

The press release also indicates the city is partnering with several economic development groups that include St. Landry Economic Development, the Acadiana Planning Commission and the Opelousas Downtown Development District, to help create interest proposals for the building.

In 2019 city officials met with state and federal economic representatives who declared the former hotel is located within an enterprise zone, meaning anyone seeking to redevelop the site could be eligible for low interest credits.

“The New Life Center Redevelopment Site is in the heart of downtown Opelousas and offers tremendous potential for a mixed-use redevelopment, which advances the goals of the Opelousas Downtown Development master plan,” the press release added.

Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor said in the press release that the city has taken several steps to facilitate the redevelopment process.

Those initiatives said Alsandor, have included a technical assistance program sponsored by the city of Opelousas, a Phase 1 environmental site assessment through the Environmental Protection Agency and a second site assessment administered by the Technical Assistance of Brownfield program.

The EPA has also given assistance through a community revitalization program, the press release said.

Opelousas DDD chairperson Lena Charles said repurposing the New Life Center achieves the District’s master plan of creating what she describes as a “vibrant, walkable, mixed-use center of commerce, attracting employers, residents, tourists and shoppers, while re-establishing downtown Opelousas as the heart of economic, cultural and civic life in the city.”