Federal tax money is being used in Louisiana to buy a dead Wal-Mart with a damaged roof. There are more than 200 dead Wal-Marts on the marketplace today. In Louisiana, there are at least 10 ‘dark stores’ that are available for lease or purchase. In Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, Parish leaders are thinking about buying an old Wal-Mart — and they hope to get help from the federal taxpayers. Most of Wal-Mart’s “ghost boxes” were left empty so the giant retailer could move to larger quarters. More than 1,000 ‘old’ discount stores — many of them build in the 1990s — were abandoned so Wal-Mart could build a superstore across the street or down the road. In Thibodaux, Louisiana, which is in Lafourche Parish, the Wal-Mart supercenter #1016 on North Canal Boulevard replaced the old Wal-Mart, and there is no other retailer or business that would have the building. So the Parish Council has stepped into the breach, with a proposal to buy the Wal-Mart building at 4876 on Route 1. The Council hopes to vote tonight to purchase the 54,223 s.f. building. But the premises need a lot of work. It needs a new roof, interior renovations, new air conditioning units, and a new generator. Wal-Mart is selling the property for $2.25 million, a price that the Parish might have trouble swallowing, were it not for the generosity of the American taxpayer. According to Houma Courier, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay for about $575,000 of the tab, with a private insurance settlement covering another $600,000. The Parish is also selling some land around the store, and the net cost to the Parish will be around $902,247. Parish President Charlotte Randolph said the administration is recommending the council purchase the old Wal-Mart. Parish officials transformed the empty former Wal-Mart on La. 1 into an all-purpose government building after Hurricane Gustav ravaged the former home of their emergency operations center and council chambers.
In her website message to visitors, Lafourche Council President Charlotte Randolph focuses on the damage Hurricane Gustav did to her Parish. “Our building operations center lost its roof during Gustav,” she writes, “which caused over a dozen departments to be relocated between storms. This was very stressful, but they endured.” Tonight, the Parish Council will take up the motion “to authorize the purchase of land and improvements located at 4876 Louisiana Highway 1, Mathews, Louisiana (Old Wal-Mart) for the purpose of a Governmental Complex due to the damage from Hurricane Gustav to the Barrios Building in Raceland, Louisiana and authorizing the Parish President to hire an attorney to prepare a title search and sale documents and to sign any and all associated documents necessary to acquire said property.” The Parish has estimated to repair its existing Barrios Building headquarters would cost $2.3 million, with FEMA and insurance kicking in $1.2 million towards that cost. For the Wal-Mart building, actual purchase of the building is $765,000, but the new roof will cost $750,000, interior renovations another $250,000, and new air conditioning units $225,000. The total costs come to $2.25 million, and FEMA will pick up $575,253 of that, with $600,000 coming from an insurance settlement. The Parish also hopes to sell the old Barrios Building land for $175,000. The Parish is left with costs of just under $1 million to buy the old Wal-Mart, which is roughly the size of a football field, which is twice as big as the Barrios Building. The Parish will also have to pick up the monthly costs of $4,262 per month for utilities. Readers are urged to email Parish President Randolph at: http://www.lafourchegov.org/lafourchegov/Form_Contact-Admin.aspx with the following message: “Dear President Randolph, It may seem like an obvious question to ask: has the Parish asked Wal-Mart to donate their old building to the Parish? They have done this elsewhere, and considering the nice profit they are making from their new superstore in Thibodaux, it might be reasonable to expect them, as a good corporate citizen, to just write off their old building. After all, the property needs more money put into improvements than the asking price. It would not only save the Parish money, but you might be able to lower the tab that the American taxpayer is having to put up to make this deal happen. Wal-Mart has at least 10 other dead stores in Louisiana — they won’t miss this one. Ask them to donate it before you close the deal.”