Whitney development heading for realization

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 1, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / April 1, 1998

WALLACE – Whitney Plantation, a faded beauty of an antebellum mansion on the west bank River Road in St. John the Baptist Parish, may see arenaissance before long.

The property is scheduled to go before the St. John Parish PlanningCommission for rezoning April 13 at 6:30 p.m.”We were unaware it needed to be rezoned,” Beverly Laudermill of Formosa Plastics said. Formosa has owned the property since 1989 and itsabortive effort to locate a massive plastics facility in the area.

The plant proposal is a fading memory (“there’s been no move at all”), but the sale to New Orleans attorney John Cummings, first announced in late 1997, will be final in a few weeks, Laudermill said.

Cummings, a resident of Metairie, said Tuesday a news conference would be called when the act of sale is completed. He promised details of hisplans would be announced at that time.

“Everything is still ‘go’,” Laudermill added. “It’s just taking a littletime.”At the Planning Commission meeting, according to St. John Parish PlanningDirector Laurette Thymes, the panel will review Formosa’s application to, first, subdivide its 2,000-acre tract into a 58.01-acre spot and the restof the property.

That 58-acre site, containing the main building and 23 outbuildings, one of the most complete plantation sites in the lower Mississippi Valley, will rezoned from its present I-3 (heavy industrial) to C-1 (light commercial).

When Formosa first purchased the land, it rezoned the property in 1990 from its then-zoning of C-1, Thymes said, who added most of the property along the west bank River Road is zoned C-1.

Thymes said hat according to the application, plans are to restore the mansion into a museum for conducting tours. There is nothing in theapplication regarding a possible bed-and-breakfast at the site.

Earlier in 1997, New Orleans developers Wayne Porter and Nora Steele tried to acquire the 200-year-old plantation to restore it as a 30-room bed-and-breakfast, along with a restaurant and historical and cultural center at the Wallace plantation complex.

However, that plan for development fell through as Porter and Steele were unable to meet Formosa’s requirement to have funds on hand for the project.

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