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Monday, Oct. 9, 2017

WANT TO BUY A BIG TENT DOWNTOWN?

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Guess what?

Well, now is your chance!

It comes with a one-acre corner lot on Crockett Street that spans from Marshall to Edwards Street. And it has a 5,000-square-foot brick building ideal for offices.

The 25,000-squarefoot canopy over the building can be removed. The structural steel for the canopy can be used to build an eight-story parking garage.

It could be all yours for a minimum bid of $1,020,000.

The long-heralded Shreveport Intermodal Facility on Murphy Street across from the Shreveport City Court building will finally be opened sometime between now and yearend. This facility will become the primary SporTran hub as well as the Greyhound Bus depot.

Soooo … what happens with the tent?

Well, it depends on the sealed bids.

The tent was originally acquired with a $7 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority (FTA). The grant had specific requirements for the use of the facility.

If the property is no longer needed for public transportation purposes and it remains in the city’s inventory, the city must reimburse the FTA 80 percent of the land value, including depreciation.

If the city sells the property, it may use 80 percent of the sales price for the purchase of additional buses.

If the property is not sold, the city can avoid paying the feds any money if SporTran continues to use the tent as a bus terminal for at least 50 percent of its bus traffic. In the alternative, the tent could be converted into a maintenance facility.

The bids are due on Oct. 31. Needless to say, downtown advocates are very concerned about the future use of this large parcel, which is just a short city block from the courthouse. And so is SporTran, which does not want to have any further use of the downtown facility.

Liz Swaine, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, is hopeful that a private investor will purchase the tent. “The SporTran Terminal on Crockett Street downtown has become iconic. Everyone now recognizes that tented structure. Though it was built very mission-specific, to be a bus terminal, there are other things it could become. The infrastructure is there for a Food Truck Terminal protected from the weather, with bathrooms and a place for a permanent restaurant/bar. It could also be an art market, a year-round food coop. My favorite idea is to repurpose some SporTran buses into small office and retail spaces and have them parked there for rent to businesses. This could truly become something remarkable.”

“We hope to be able to work with the city on repositioning the terminal into something wonderful, unique and useful. There are a number of ideas floating around that would make that facility something that would draw people into downtown.”

“We have one of the architecturally coolest bus terminals in the country. Our job now is to find a use that is as fun and unique as the facility itself,” Swaine adds.

John E. Settle Jr. has been a resident of Shreveport since January 1977. His articles appear regularly in local publications. He can be reached at 742-5513 or e-mail to: John@jesettle.com.

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