The old Schwegmann building in Abbeville has remained empty for many years, much to the frustration of some officials. Councilman-at-Large Francis Plaisance has voiced his concerns over the vacant building for several years.

“This has been years that I have asked that something be done,” Plaisance said. “We have received complaints again about the driveway (behind McDonald’s). People think it belongs to the city. It belongs to the people who own the Schwegmann’s building. “It’s an eyesore for our city and there is nothing going on there.” Plaisance voiced those concerns during a regular city council meeting on July 7.

When the council met again on July 21, City Attorney Ike Funderburk informed members that progress is being made on the Schwegmann’s front. “I met with the attorney for the company that operates the building,” Funderburk said. “They are doing some things that are going to help solve some of the issues.” The company that leases the property, Renter’s Center, Inc., has hired a contractor to repair pot holes in the roadway that leads from La. Hwy. 82 to the Schwegmann parking lot. The company, which also leases the property that includes McDonald’s and Popeye’s will close off access from the La. 14 Bypass to the big parking lot in front of the Schwegmann building. Gateway 14, Inc., has the lease for the building, one it recently renewed for five years, with an option for another 10 years. “Depending on what agreement they have with McDonald’s,” Funderburk said, “they are going to chain off the street right after the McDonald’s turn-in.” Funderburk said he understands that the building and property will clearly be put on the market. “They will put up a nice, appropriate for rent sign,” Funderburk said. “It will have contact information.” Issues with safety of the building and property will also be addressed. “They’re going to beef up their inspection and clean-up protocols for the building,” Funderburk said. Most importantly, Funderburk added, officials from the com

Issues with safety of the building and property will also be addressed.
“They’re going to beef up their inspection and clean-up protocols for the building,” Funderburk said.
Most importantly, Funderburk added, officials from the company that owns the property want to build a bridge of communication with local officials.

“All three managers of the company want to meet,” Funderburk said. Included in that future meeting will be Mayor Mark Piazza, and Plaisance, as well as Vermilion Parish Economic Development District Executive Director Anne Falgout. Funderburk said a list of dates are being coordinated between the two parties.
Falgout said she will be happy to help in a process that could create growth in an important area of the city.
“It’s a vacant property on a main thoroughfare in town,” Falgout said. “Highway 14 is a place people go to get to everything important.
“It looks bad to have something there that is out of commerce.” Doing so could be a boon for the immediate area and the entire city. “If you can generate some sales tax and property tax revenue from it,” Falgout said, “it’s going to be a great thing for our community.” That includes the viability of the vacant properties around the Schwegmann land.
“Any time we can take something that is out of commerce and put it back in commerce,” Falgout said,
“it changes things around it. There is a property on the corner that used to be the Valero station and then Courtesy (Vermilion) utilized it. That’s a developable property. “It just takes that first step of someone being interested to create that vibrance.”

By Shaun Hearen, Vermilion Today