Owners of vacant nursing home facility get condemnation extension

The owners of a vacant nursing home facility were given a six month condemnation extension Tuesday to allow them to sell the property.

The owners were also asked to keep the city updated and to provide an update at the Sept. 12  Jennings City Council.

“What I have asked the council is to allow us to continue our efforts to try to sell the property and let someone else have the opportunity to either tear it down or bring it up to whatever standards it needs to meet,” Michael Adley, attorney for Acadiana Cares, said.

Acadians Cares, a Lafayette-based non-profit group, acquired the former Jennings Guest House at 203 South Louise Street through a donation in 2012. The building, which is located on about three acres, has sat vacant since then and has only been used for storage, Adley said.

The city inspector has declared the property unsafe and in need of condemnation.

“I pass by it every day and I see the deterioration in the building,” Councilman Johnny Armentor said.

Armentor said he knows several people who have wanted to get the building and have contacted Acadiana Cares, but have not heard back from them in over a year.

Armentor voiced opposition in giving the group more time to attempt to sell the property, noting that the property is not worth the cost of demolition.

“I cannot move forward and give y’all more time to leave this structure standing when we have other structures that we need to move on,” Armentor.

The group announced proposed plans in August 2021 to open a housing and substance abuse treatment facility to provide services and support for people affected by substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, homelessness and inequities in health care, but has not moved forward on those plans because of funding issues.

Adley said it was his understanding that the city and Acadiana Cares had agreed in May that no further condemnation proceedings would take place while it tried to sell the property. The group listed the property for sale in May.

“I am doing my best to move this along,” Adley said. “Had we known we did not have the agreement in place, like I thought we had an agreement in place to hold off on condemnation, there would have been other activity going on in the past two months.”

He said there has been no further effort on Acadiana Cares part, other than to maintain the exterior to include lawn care.

If the city wants to move forward on the condemnation, Adley said the group would like more  time because things were put on pause based on the agreement that there would be no further condemnation efforts while the group tried to sell the property

“Since we have had it listed, we have had some interest in the property and had a couple of people go out and look at it,” Adley said.

The group is currently trying to schedule a showing with a group that has an interest in doing something residential-related to the property, he said.

Mayor Henry Guinn said electricity to the building was turned off in March. The electricity will not be restored until the entire property is brought up to current building and safety codes.

“That will not change regardless of ownership,” Guinn said. “Whoever owns the property will still be faced with the burden of bringing the entire thing up to code.”

Guinn said the new owner needs to understand the liabilities and what they are buying or the city will be back to square one with the property.

In his opinion, Guinn said the value of the land is less than the cost of demolition.

Guinn also expressed concern that the property was being advertised as commercial when it is a residential real estate. It will have to be rezoned to go back into commercial property, he said.

Guinn said he is not against giving the developer more time, but said he wants them to be informed and understand what they are buying.

“I don’t see an educated business person spending $100,000-plus to sit on three or four city blocks, I don’t from an economic standpoint,” he said, noting that the property would likely have to be donated again. “In the meantime the building just stays there.”

Even if the property does sell, the new owner would have to bring it up to code to get electricity restored, he said,

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