St. Landry sheriff searches for new headquarters

St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said plans to purchase the former Service Builders location immediately north of Opelousas as a new headquarters for his department fell through.

Guidroz said Thursday the federal government made demands he couldn’t live with, including a requirement to keep $800,000 in escrow.

This is the second time plans for a new, centralized headquarters for the parish’s chief law enforcement agency have fallen through.

In late 2010, Guidroz attempted to purchase a former car dealership lot in Opelousas for a headquarters building, but that proposal drew strong objections from members of a nearby church.

In January, Guidroz set his sights on the Service Builders location. But that project would have needed millions of dollars in financing to become a reality.

Guidroz had hoped to get federal grants for the project but it came with too many strings.

Guidroz said he is in negotiations with the owners of the former Acadiana Preparatory Academy located off U.S. Highway 190 at its intersection with Interstate 49.

“We are currently working with the real estate people to set a price,” Guidroz said.

He said the building will need a lot of work, but the location is excellent, allowing quick access to both of the parish’s major roads.

“It has enough room to do what we need to do,” Guidroz said.

If the deal can be closed, his plan is to do much of the work with local resources.

“I won’t go through the USDA for this,” Guidroz said. “I will use inmate labor for the cleanup. We have some very talented people with skills in plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. We can save ourselves a lot of money.”

When completed, there are no plans to locate any prisoners at the facility. It will just be for sheriff’s office employees.

Once completed, the project is expected to both increase efficiency and save money. He said the sheriff’s office, which was built in 1980, is no longer adequate — and it hasn’t been for years.