Renovations coming to Mall St. Vincent, shoppers footing the bill

Renovations coming to Mall St. Vincent, shoppers footing the bill

The Shreveport City Council unanimously agreed to apply an additional one-percent sales tax to purchases made at mall Saint Vincent in order to fund a makeover of the aging facility. The stores exempt from the tax hike are Dillards and Sears because they own their own properties.

Legislation passed in Baton Rouge allows for public-private partnerships to allow a government body to levy a tax up to 2% to benefit a private business. Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover says this is a first for the city, "This is the first time this particular mechanism has been used to my knowledge outside of South Louisiana." He says the Tanger Outlet Mall, located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, has served a successful model for this type of arrangement.

"Ultimately it will rejuvenate it, redevelop, reinvigorate it, the mall of St. Vincent," said Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover. Property owner, Rouse Properties, plans to spend 16.5 million dollars to renovate the mall. Eventually the money from this tax hike will be used to reimburse the company for adding new storefronts, landscaping, and more.

Rouse properties is among the largest mall owners in the United States and own six malls within Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. Chief Operating Officer Benjamin Schall says they are pleased by Mayor Glover and the City Council's decision to support their property." The capital generated from this agreement will enable us to revitalize Mall St. Vincent, benefiting the entire Shreveport community, consumers and retailers alike," Schall said. "Our planned interior renovation and new streetscape will allow us to offer the best quality shopping experience in the area, helping to attract new and exciting national retailers and restaurants concepts to Mall St. Vincent."

But according to Mayor Glover it isn't exactly a 'slam dunk' deal for the Rouse Properties, partly because they have to make the up front investment. "They have to be prepared to spend the 16.5 million dollars and to be reimbursed potentially, from the additional revenue collected," he said. "If that revenue is sufficient, enough to be able to accomplish that purpose, then yes they have been made whole, but they have that risk. If it's not, then they only receive a portion that's available to distribute to them, there is no ultimate guarantee."

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover says the choice to support the project is completely up to the shoppers. "That's the great thing, shoppers will be able to decide for themselves, because this is something that is completely voluntary, its either a place you shop and you factor it into your buying decision or you go someplace else," said Mayor Glover. But Skye Lewis who works in the mall, is concerned the higher tax will affect her job, "It's been so dead lately. I'm afraid this tax hike will make business even slower and my hours will be cut."

But for shopper Kasheema Wilson, a self proclaimed shopaholic, she doesn't mind the tax hike, "Actually I don't pay attention to prices, I love spending money, so it doesn't matter how much it is."

This tax will begin in July and will last for 20 years.

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