Proposal made to renovate old City Hall, Zigler Annex building

JENNINGS — The old City Hall and Zigler Annex buildings in downtown Jennings could soon get a facelift.

Dr. Ben Sabbaghian, doing business as Percipoles, and Joel Oustalet, doing business as Partners Real Estate, presented plans for the property to the Jennings City Council on Tuesday

The decades-old building was the former City Hall, which included offices on the first floor and apartments upstairs. The Zigler Annex building, located to the rear of the City Hall, housed several offices.

Sabbaghian wants to renovate the four-story old city hall at 324 N. Broadway St. to accommodate residential apartments and business spaces.

“I have been through it and the building itself is somewhat rundown,” Sabbaghian said. “There are leaks everywhere, there’s water damage … all kind of problems with it, but I see a lot of potential in it.”

Sabbaghian said location of electrical and plumbing will decide how the space will be used.

Oustalet wants to demolish the annexed portion of the building, facing State Street, to expand the car lot to allow Bubba Oustalet Ford to display more vehicles.

“We need that for an additional display area,” Oustatlet said. “We feel like we can store an extra 60 vehicles in the front of our dealership where we have access to show the vehicles, our sales consultants to see the vehicles and see the guests and wait on them in a timely manner. We know it is going to give us increased sales just by the visibility.”

The Ford dealership has also been landlocked for 66 years, he said.

In addition to providing more parking for the dealership, the project would include providing six parking spots for the apartments, which Oustalet said are needed to create living spaces in the downtown area.

“Since 1952 when my father came here there has been a lack of residential and rental property,” Oustalet said. “Many people don’t realize when my dad bought the dealership he actually lived with Fred and Ruth Zigler for six months.”

Oustalet said within the next several months the Zigler Annex would be demolished to make way for the car lot.

Mayor Henry Guinn is excited about the future of the building and what it would mean to the downtown area.

“This is great news for the city because it means we will have taken a facility which has been out of commission for some time and bring it back to life,” Guinn said.

Guinn said he supports the plans because they will mean additional revenue for the city by generating more people and traffic downtown.

“Any time a car dealership can expand its sales, it can do wonders for our tax base and the apartments will mean additional residences to enhance foot traffic downtown which can increase local sales,” Guinne said.

Under the agreement, both parties have been given 12 months to begin construction.

Both properties have deteriorated and would be costly to the city to renovate and maintain, Guinn said. The estimated cost of renovating or replacing the structure was $3 million in 2011.

“Right now the facility in it’s current state is a liability for the city, so to have investors willing to put that kind of money in to make upscale apartments and expand its dealership, we are very lucky,” Guinn said.

Sabbaghian has a good track record within the city for renovating old properties. In recent years he has renovated the old Ardoin’s drugstore, Calcasieu Marine Bank and the Zigler hotel as downtown apartments. 

He also renovated the old Walmart store for a medical office building, the former Courville furniture store for business space and the former Stine’s store for the Grand Marais events centers, which includes several businesses.

‘There are leaks everywhere, there’s water damage … all kind of problems with it, but I see a lot of potential in it.’

Dr. Ben Sabbaghian

Speaking of old city hall

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An eyesore in downtown Jennings could soon be turned into apartments and business spaces, according to plans presented Tuesday by two local real estate investors. 

Doris MaricleJefferson Davis Parish Reporter
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