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Mall St. Vincent owners not holding up their end of the bargain - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Mall St. Vincent owners not holding up their end of the bargain

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTBS) -

As the holiday shopping season kicks in, Mall St. Vincent shoppers will see a 1% sales tax added to their purchases to pay for mall renovations. It's a story we've been following for you since the beginning and we've been keeping up with Rouse Properties, the owners of Mall St. Vincent, commitment to hire local people to do some of the work.

Shreveport's city council approved the sales tax at the mall earlier this year and told Rouse to make a good faith effort to hire locally. We've been checking in with city officials and Rouse periodically on their efforts and it looks like Rouse still has some work to do to keep their promise.

The city partnered with Rouse to save Mall St. Vincent because city officials say it was the right economic move. With the money raised from the 1% sales tax Rouse get's 80% and the City of Shreveport gets 20%. So far the city has collected about $86,000 that will go toward's upgrades in streets around the mall and making sure the area is inviting.

In the contract with the city, Rouse was to make good faith efforts to award 25% of mall reconstruction contracts to disadvantaged businesses and up to 50% of that work was supposed to go to Louisiana-based companies.

The total cost of renovating Mall St. Vincent is about $12 to 14 million dollars. That means up to $3.5 million dollars should go to disadvantaged businesses, but so far just a little more than $400,000 has been met. Also, up to $7 million dollars could have gone to Louisiana-based companies but only about $800,000 really has.

And if you've been to Mall St. Vincent lately, you can clearly see that construction is well underway. But the contract between the city and Rouse does not have any teeth and isn't enforceable. In a previous interview Sam Jenkins, a city councilman, expressed his concerns which today seems to be the reality. "What I don't want is completion and then excuses as to why that level of participation was not there."

We have a correspondence from Rouse to the city with an update on fulfilling their obligation and in that Rouse says that they believe they have satisfied the conditions of the contract at this point. It's unclear if they will hire additional local contractors to finish the job. Also Rouse declined to comment and there wasn't a current update from the city on the issue.

Rouse said in a previous statement that the Mall St. Vincent reconstruction work should be complete in 2014. Originally, they said it would be finished by Christmas 2013. In an earlier statement Rouse offered this response, "We agreed to abide by the fair share program established by the city. We have acted in good faith to identify and enter into subcontracts with local businesses and will continue to reach out.  We are pleased that the project will bring jobs to the area."

The cooperative endeavor agreement with the city did call for a good faith effort, and Rouse documented their efforts to the City of Shreveport, without complaint from the city.  

 

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