Council members want Muller's sign - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Council members want Muller's sign restored

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The Lake Charles City Council approved an ordinance for an extension of the Restoration Tax Abatement Program for the Muller's Building but not without expressing concerns about parts of the restoration.

Under the original agreement with Muller's and the state program the building was to be restored to its original state to receive the annual $26,000 ad valorem property tax abatement for five years.

While no one on the council is denying the progress Muller's has made on returning the building to its original glory and bringing residential life back to downtown - some council members are questioning whether the original Muller's sign should be included in the completion of the restoration.

Lake Charles City Attorney Billy Loftin said the developers have been working with the state to determine if the sign can be added to the exterior.

"If the sign was an add-on then it might be a prohibition because the program requires the original state," explained Loftin.

The building was constructed in 1913 without the sign. Then in 1951 the sign was added when the building was renovated. Council Member Marshall Simien said the iconic sign is what designated the building as a landmark.

"It's also been fiver years and I believe they have had enough time to make that determination. And saving all that money they have enough to do it. I understand if it can't be done, but we would like a formal notice in writing saying it can't be done," said Simien.

Roger Landry is co-owner of the building and said they are trying to work something out with the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service to include an exterior sign. According to Landry the reasoning behind their decision to not include the sign was because it was added in 1951 and that none of the other downtown buildings had exterior signs. Landry also requested he be able to display the Muller's letters but was denied because it was more in tune with the 1970s renovation. Landry was allowed to display the Muller's letters inside the building.

Landry has since petitioned the National Park Service about the exteriors sign. Landry said they have looked into designs to mimic the old Muller's sign and that it would cost between $15,000 to $20,000.

Landry also said while they do get tax credits under the program they currently pay $5,000 in property taxes a year.

Again, the City Council approved extending the Restoration Tax Abatement Program for Muller's for another five years and are awaiting a determination in writing by the state on whether the sign is original to the building.

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