Courtney Hornsby.JPG

The city of West Monroe is seeking the state’s approval to establish a cultural district in the city’s southern area that would clear the way for owners of historic properties to obtain tax credits for renovation work.

Last week, the West Monroe Board of Aldermen considered amending the boundaries of the proposed “South Riverfront Cultural District.” According to the map, the cultural district would extend from Coleman Avenue and McClendon Street to the southeast point of Lazarre Park.

“We already have one inside the downtown area,” said Mayor Staci Mitchell. “The main benefit are the tax credits people can get for improvements to their property.”

Once the state of Louisiana certifies a cultural district, the sale of artistic works are exempt from local and state sales taxes. Owners of historic structures also may obtain historic income tax credits.

“One of the benefits is tax credits, for state historic credits if your building is 50 years or older and income-producing,” said Courtney Hornsby, Mitchell’s chief of staff.

Such a certification could provide opportunities for revitalization of the neighborhoods within the proposed district’s boundaries, city officials say.

“There are interesting stories about how it was one of the first established neighborhoods or about the Don Juan Filhiol district, or how Lazarre used to be a popular beach,” Hornsby said. “That’s why we submitted the South Riverfront Cultural District application.”

Cultural districts and historic districts may overlap, but having a historic structure is not a requirement for a cultural district, according to Hornsby.

“Cultural districts were created by the state of Louisiana to invigorate culture and arts to inspire artistic development and economic development,” Hornsby said. “You’re adding another tool to your toolbox for cultural and economic development.”

Hornsby said the city has not yet received received confirmation that the state has certified the South Riverfront Cultural District.

“We’re looking toward the future,” said Alderman Thom Hamilton.

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