LPTFA taking over Joie de Vivre?

by Leslie Turk

The troubled Acadiana Outreach Center hopes the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority will keep its Joie de Vivre project alive.

Still reeling from gross mismanagement at its Abbeville treatment facility and loss of outside funding sources, Acadiana Outreach Center is looking for a lifeline for Joie de Vivre, a $16.5 million mixed-use, affordable housing development near downtown.

"Because of the dire straits our prior management left us in, we've reached the end of the road," says AOC board member Bo Billeaud. At a 1 p.m. meeting today, Billeaud will make a brief presentation to the board of the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, requesting that it acquire AOC's interest and other assets in the vicinity of the project. The meeting will be held at Lafayette Consolidated Government's building at 705 W. University Ave. on the second floor.

Joie de Vivre is being partially funded by federal low-income housing tax credits that will be sold to private investors. Those tax credit investors, who would own 99.99 percent interest in the project with AOC owning .01 percent, have requested additional backers or a new sponsor because of AOC's problems. In the absence of that, it will require AOC to post a half million dollar performance bond, Billeaud says, which is not an option.

LPTFA already has an interest in Joie de Vivre, as it loaned the project $1 million. One potential attraction for LPTFA, a public trust organized under the laws of the state and established for the benefit of the city of Lafayette, is a $1.9 million development fee, which it would share with the project consultant, presumably its former board member Greg Gachassin.

LPTFA is nearing completion on a similar project it spearheaded, the $10 million Cypress Trails apartment complex in north Lafayette.

Joie de Vivre, located in the Mills Addition near downtown, was supposed to break ground in September and be finished next year. Though most residents in the area have spoken out publicly in favor of the project, it has met significant resistance from some neighbors.

Without LPTFA's help, the project may be dead, Billeaud says. "Unless we have a guardian angel come in."