St. James Youth Center for sale for $2.5 million

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Monique Roth

VACHERIE – The St. James Parish Council unanimously voted at its most recent meeting to list the St. James Parish Youth Detention Center as surplus and put it on the market.

The center has been closed since June 30 of last year, and St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said the parish no longer has a need for the property.

Roussel said the property was appraised at $2.5 million, with the land alone being appraised at $990,000.

Councilman Jason Amato asked how the parish would be advertising the property, and St. James Parish Director of Emergency Preparedness Eric Deroche said he would advertise on an online auction site, as well as in local newspapers.

Roussel explained to the Council that the parish will seek a bid at the full appraised amount and will have the option of lowering the amount sought by 25 percent each month.

Deroche said state law mandates the parish initially lists the property at 100 percent of its appraised value. If the property does not sell at that price, the Council will be able to vote to reduce the price to 75 percent, then 50 percent and in the end the Council will have the option to list the property at whatever price it chooses, Deroche said.

Roussel said there have been two recent inquiries about the site. He explained to the Council that one of the interested parties would seek to turn the facility into temporary housing for thousands of industrial workers expected to need housing in the parish in the next few years.

Roussel said the next issue related to the center is that the Council will have to decide on how a 1 mill tax, once used to operate the youth center, would be handled now that the facility is up for sale.

Deroche explained the Council could roll back, but not eliminate, the millage because the parish still has to cover housing costs for the parish’s troubled juveniles that are now housed in Assumption Parish. The youth center millage generates about $360,000 annually.

In other meeting items, the Council accepted the bid by Legacy Construction Services for the construction of the EOC warehouse building for the Department of Emergency Preparedness. The bid was $349,995.