Mayor-President Josh Guillory announces employee layoffs at the Acadiana Nature Station, Science Museum, three Senior Centers and the Heymann Center.
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Mayor-President Josh Guillory’s administration recently opened the Heymann Performing Arts Center to an appraisal by Lafayette General Health, according to records obtained by The Daily Advertiser and interviews.
In what was a closely guarded secret at City Hall, Lafayette Consolidated Government employees worked to fill a “confidential request” on Lafayette General’s behalf for information about the building’s condition and any legal hurdles on the donated land where it stands next door to Lafayette General Medical Center on South College Road.
The land that the Heymann Center sits on amounts to 7 acres of commercial property directly beside Lafayette General Medical Center on the edge of Lafayette’s Oil Center.
More: Does Lafayette General want to buy the Heymann Center? Mayor allowed appraisal
Here’s what we know:
Who owns the Heymann Center and can it be sold?
The land was donated to the city of Lafayette in 1957 by the Heymann family for the construction of the Heymann Center. The deed for their donation does not prohibit Lafayette Consolidated Government from selling the land or the building.
The value of the building and the land it sits on is unclear, since Lafayette General’s appraisal has not been completed. Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux said that current assessments putting the land at $1.8 million and the building at $6 million likely undervalue both.
Why would Lafayette General Health want to buy the Heymann Center?
The Heymann Center has long been seen as the only place left for Lafayette General Medical Center to expand its healthcare facilities in Lafayette’s Oil Center, with former Mayor-President Joey Duel acknowledging at one point that the hospital had nowhere else to expand.
“It’s got nowhere to expand to other than right there where the Heymann Center is,” he told The Advertiser in 2014. “That’s the most logical expansion for it.”
What is the future of funding and support for the Heymann Center?
Guillory announced plans for layoffs at the Heymann Center in May, affecting dozens of employees at the venue and prompting concerns that reduced funding for the center would decimate its operations.
The cuts took about $900,000 out of the center’s $2.9 million annual budget, and cut funding for its personnel in half, leaving three full-time employees. But City Councilwoman Nanette Cook led a compromise with Guillory’s administration to restore $230,000 of that funding for one full-time and several part-time positions in the new budget.
What’s the relevance of Lafayette General’s interest in Heymann Center?
Lafayette General Health reached out to Guillory’s administration in July with requests for detailed information, including the venue’s age, condition and potential legal hurdles regarding the 7 acres of donated land where the Heymann was built.
The health system also sought permission to have an appraisal of the building conducted to determine its worth. Lafayette General is awaiting the results of that appaisal.
What’s next for the Heymann Center and Lafayette General Health?
Thompson and Lafayette Consolidated Government spokesperson Jamie Angelle said there has been interest in the Heymann, but both said no formal discussions have occurred and no offers made. An appraisal of the property is pending.
City Councilwoman Nanette Cook criticized Guillory’s administration for not being forthcoming about the potential sale after learning an appraisal is being conducted. She said the council should have been notified that the request was being handled during the recently completed budget process.
Cook said she’s not opposed to a sale of the Heymann Center if it is done with public input and ensures there is a new performing arts venue for the city.
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