Board approves additional penny sales tax for new Livingston development

— The City Council unanimously approved the levy of a new 1-cent sales tax Tuesday in a new economic development district to help finance retail development across the street from Bass Pro Shops, just south of Interstate 12 at Range Avenue.

The new penny sales tax will bring the total sales tax charged within the city’s newest economic development district to 11 cents on the dollar. The tax will take effect Jan. 1 and will be levied for 30 years.

City Council members, sitting as the governing board for the Springs at Riverside Landing Economic Development District, agreed to levy the additional cent for the 355,000-square-foot retail and commercial project between Bass Pro Boulevard and Vincent Road.

“This is just the initial setting of the tax,” Mayor Jimmy Durbin said. “It doesn’t begin being collected until there are actual sales in the district.”

The tax is projected to back as much as $16 million in revenue bonds for parking, lighting and other infrastructure related to the development.

Livingston Parish Gravity Drainage District No. 1 has pledged 40 percent of its existing half-cent sales tax collected within the development district to drainage improvements for the project as well.

The tax-increment financing plan will help developers with the costs of construction, development and operation of the $65 million project, which is expected to generate about 500 retail and commercial jobs.

Brent Bueche, president of BBI Architects and a spokesman for developer Blue Marble LLC, has said several companies already are looking into locating in the district.

Existing businesses surrounding the development area are not included in the development district, Mayor Durbin has said.

The development district’s board also approved an engagement letter for legal services from Jones Walker LLP.

The firm already has worked on the Springs project, drafting cooperative endeavor agreements for the drainage district, developers and governing board. Tuesday’s vote means the firm also will serve as bond counsel for the development district.

Blue Marble will be responsible for paying all legal fees, City Attorney Paeton Burkett said.

The City Council also set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Jan. 14 to zone as C-3 commercial the 17.8 acres the city annexed into the development district.

The hearing will be held in the courtroom of the Denham Springs Municipal Building, 941 Government Drive.