St. Charles set for boom

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 22, 2000

HAHNVILLE – St. Charles Parish continues its economic boom with morestores, restaurants, homes and industry on the horizon.

Everything from a possible new state park to a new job-training center are also being discussed for development soon, Economic Development Director Corey Faucheux said.

One of the new residential developments, Ashton Plantation Estates next to Luling at Interstate 310, submitted plans for its first 225-home construction phase to the parish’s Planning and Zoning Department recently for final approval.

Meanwhile, trees are being cleared at the site and canals being dug for the planned lagoon.

That development is hoped to provide up to 2,000 new homes in the next 10 years. Other subdivision developers are likewise expanding and buildingup their own sites. Dr. Ray Matherne, developing Fashion PlantationEstates, will develop that subdivision beyond the railroad tracks, even as the front section along River Road in Hahnville fills up. Huey Rivet isdeveloping a new subdivision at the Bayou Gauche bridge, even as Matherne continues the expansion of the nearby Green Acres area.

In addition, more small subdivisions are either under construction or in the planning stages in St. Rose, Hahnville, Boutte and Luling.At Riverbend Business Park, the Association of Building Contractors has started building its own school to provide more skilled workers for the anticipated contractors’ boom, including carpenters, plumbers and electricians.

“They’re having a tough time keeping a workforce here,” Faucheux said, adding with all the construction planned right around the corner a trained workforce will be critical.

James Business Park in St. Rose continues its own expansion anddevelopment. A 250,000-square-foot warehouse is to begin constructionsoon, and developer First Industrial is working with Faucheux to find a tenant for its 78,000-square-foot office building.

In addition, investors are working with James Business Park and various investors to develop a hotel and a family-style national-chain restaurant there.

Wal-Mart is preparing its site on U.S. Highway 90 for construction laterthis year. Faucheux said he can’t predict the economic impact onneighboring businesses, but he said he’s seen both good and bad result in other areas.

Sales tax income, as more people spend locally, will remain in the parish, and some shoppers are attracted from outside the parish. At the sametime some local businesses may be hurt by the competition.

“Some people will always shop at certain stores,” Faucheux said. “Afterall, studies are only a few people’s opinions.”He added that Wal-Mart did meet with neighbors in Coronado Park who were concerned about noise, traffic and potential flooding, and the company satisfied their concerns – for now.

“We won’t know what the impact will be until the time comes,” Faucheux said.

Home Place Plantation is under study at this time by the Office of State Parks as a potential new state park. This would bring state money,possibly matched by federal and local funds, to restore and open the 200- year-old house to tourists.

The cane field behind the plantation is also one of those under consideration as the site for a possible civic center, perhaps sharing parking space with the park.

Faucheux said he is also working with Ray Coleman, who owns the property immediately upriver from the town of Killona, reaching from the river to beyond Louisiana Highway 3127.

Faucheux said Coleman hopes to develop the rear portion beyond the railroad tracks as warehouses and distribution centers, with the front portion possibly an office park.

At the same time, Faucheux is working with the Port of South Louisiana and Coleman toward the addition of a dock facility at the Coleman site.

The old TransAmerican Match factory in St. Rose is also getting new life,as construction nears completion for Penner-Welch Pharmaceuticals’ new two-story, 35,500-square-foot office and warehouse.

St. Charles Parish is extending adequate water lines from neighboringOakland Estates to make sure Penner-Welch’s fire sprinkler system will be adequate.

Finally, the parish is due to meet in a few weeks with Amoco on the progress of cleaning up the toxic wastes at the old Pan-Am Refinery in Destrehan. Once the land is cleaned sections may be opened for eventualdevelopment.

Faucheux added the parish also hopes to acquire more land from Amoco to expand the East Bridge Park at the rear.

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