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July 11, 11:12 am

Officials are taking another look at the planning for the Heymann Performing Arts Center’s replacement. After the matter seemed all but settled in favor of a facility on the UL Lafayette campus, a new study marks a fresh start.

A new study commissioned by the Heymann Commission will look at the current site and consider updates to the historic facility or new construction on the site. The 2022 feasibility study that referred the project to UL, a result critics have called done dealhave omitted these scenarios.

“We have not necessarily valued the municipal assets that belong to us,” says Heymann Commission Chair Cindy Randazzo.

And it’s a big win. The Heymann reported $1 million in sales tax last year from mostly local bookings: dance companies, carnival balls and the symphony orchestra. And it sits on an 11-acre lot, enough room to expand or replace the on-site theater, Randazzo points out.

Is the UL plan dead? Not necessarily. UL is still planning an entertainment district near the Cajundome that includes a performing arts center, and there is a taxing district to fund it. However, that facility may not be a replacement for the Heymann Center, as previously touted.

More about the Heymann Center

In total, Lafayette has $688 million in this year’s state budget for dozens of projects, including large sums of money for the UL and local government.

The current Heymann Performing Arts Center near Ochsner Lafayette General

With a hastily completed application, LCG was able to meet the Nov. 1 deadline to request capital expenditures and ask the state to help fund a $127 million replacement for the Heymann Performing Arts Center in the next budget cycle.

The Heymann Center with a puddle in the foreground.

The long-discussed plan to build a new performing arts center in Lafayette may be taking shape. The proposal comes with a $100 million price tag, funded by state capital spending and a 1-cent sales tax in the city of Lafayette.

The funding situation has changed. And not to UL’s advantage. A key political argument in demanding a UL site was to tap state funds to fill the gap on a potentially $150 million project. Lafayette’s outgoing legislative delegation secured $75 million in 2023. In the current budget, that amount dropped to less than $10 million.

MP Monique Boulet has put many ambitions from the Guillory era on hold. It has not ruled out a partnership with UL. Instead, it is using the Heymann Commission study to “rethink” the Heymann Center as an asset based on “best use,” said Jamie Boudreaux, LCG communications director.

While the debate raged, the Heymann building has been languishing. It needs renovation, Randazzo said, and the commission is requesting $250,000 for repairs in the upcoming budget, Boulet’s first as a legislator. Moreover, it’s unlikely the city will raise the millions needed to fund a more sophisticated facility any time soon.

“We really need to preserve what we own and what we already have,” says Randazzo.

Big picture: The slow rolling here is both a change of approach – Boulet has been much more considered than her predecessor so far – and a change of circumstances.