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Monroe seeks to buy old Ouachita Candy Co. for downtown, riverfront revitalization

A pending sign on the former Ouachita Candy Company building in Monroe
A pending sign on the former Ouachita Candy Company building in Monroe(KNOE)
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 5:23 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The City of Monroe has announced that it’s seeking to make a major purchase. The following news release comes from the City of Monroe.

Mayor Friday Ellis and the City of Monroe have announced intentions to purchase four properties, including the former Ouachita Candy Company.

The buildings are located at 205, 209, 215, and 305 Walnut Street in District 4. The properties will be developed into a mixed-use facility. Mixed-use development incorporates two or more types of land uses (e.g., housing, offices, retail, entertainment, institutions, services, restaurants, etc.).

The City will leverage data from an ongoing city-engineering survey and the downtown masterplan to help drive a site development plan; this includes feedback from residents and business owners.

Mayor Ellis is excited about the intended purchase of the building because, “it is one of the last pieces of developable property on the riverfront. With this purchase, we will be able to proactively position Monroe to further enhance the quality and content of future development and growth.” Ellis added, “Monroe’s history as a “river city” is both our legacy and our future. It is our responsibility to develop our riverfront to its fullest potential for all our citizens and our long-term economic well-being. This purchase will be an important step in allowing us to define our riverfront and downtown area as a vibrant destination for visitors and an important part of overall quality of life.”

Several organizations, businesses, and entrepreneurs from downtown and across the city, have submitted letters of support for the purchase and development of the building.

Roy Heatherly, President of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce writes, “Like the heart, a strong downtown will pump life into all areas of our city and in our region… I recognize the importance of supporting this project and in supporting our downtown businesses with the much-needed economic prosperity that this development will bring to all parts of our great city.”

Barry Stevens, President/CEO of the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council writes, “Recognition of the value of an existing property, properly restored and reimagined shines a bright light on the character of a community. There is considerable value in the cultural integrity of Monroe for that facility to be resurrected and used in a way that can enhance the cultural development of downtown Monroe.”

Dr. Ronald Berry, President of the University of Louisiana Monroe writes, “An economic benefit to enhancing the Riverfront and downtown economic development includes financial growth and stability to the city and serves as a direct benefit to North Louisiana as a whole, which has been economically devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The purchase price of the building is around $1.4 million dollars. The funds to pay for this building will come from excess sales tax revenues.

This is a non-recurring expense that will not impact any of the city’s other allocated funds. Mayor Ellis has reached out to and is sitting down with Monroe City Council members for a more in-depth breakdown of the intended purchase.

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