3,000 new homes headed for St. John

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2006



LAPLACE — A pair of new home developments in LaPlace will bring 3,000 new homes to St. John Parish, according to stories confirmed by L’Observateur this past week.

St. John attorney Daniel Becnel Jr. revealed that 362 acres of land near East St. John High School has been sold to New Millenium Homes, for a residential development that will bring 1,000 homes in the next four years.

Then late this past week, L’Observateur has received confirmation of the biggest story yet, that KB Home is in the midst of purchasing as many as 630 acres on Airline Highway near Old Hwy. 51 that will bring 2,000 new homes.

The property is located on the north side of Airline High where a sugar cane field currently is situated, only one mile east of Old Highway 51.

It has been rumored for months that KB Home, a mega-national homebuilding company, was viewing some property off Airline Highway.

This week, KB Home Director of Land Craig Szubinski acknowledged the story was true.

&#8220We already have some portions of the property under contract, and we feel like the signing for the rest is imminent,” he said. &#8220We are very high on St. John Parish and very excited to be putting this deal together to come there.”

The property is owned by a conglomerate of families, which has made the purchase extra difficult to handle from a legal standpoint. Additionally, a sugar cane lease on some of the property also has to be worked through. But Szubinski chuckled at any of that being a problem for his Fortune 500 company.

&#8220We have worked through those problems before and we are getting through these obstacles,” he said.

The property is actually seven different tracts of land, with as many as 50 different family members having a stake in some of it.

Szubinski said that KB Home would be building 2,000 units, which will be comprised of single family residential homes, as well as townhomes. Development of the site is expected to begin this fall, with new homes ready by the summer of 2007.He said the homes will range from $160,000 to $225,000, all on a pre-sold basis.

&#8220With the situation after Hurricane Katrina, we see St. John Parish as a prime location for growth, since it is close to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and with the interstate system right there,” he explained. &#8220Additionally, you offer a safe community for families to live in, and still the opportunity to build affordable homes.”

Szubinski said KB Home is not finished seeking other developments in the area, and is looking at property in Reserve, as well as St. Charles Parish.

He said his company is prepared to offer some assistance with the sewage system crunch in St. John Parish, with the options of building their own sewer system, or helping financially with the expansion of the current St. John system.

&#8220We want to work with the parish on the infrastructure situation, especially the sewer system,” he said. &#8220We know the area is suffering right now with the capacity, and we’re committed to help with our own system, or helping with the old one.”

The KB Home story broke just a week after another announcement that New Millenium Homes had purchased 372 acres of land for 1,000 homes on a piece of property right next to East St. John High School and Belle Pointe subdivision.

Local attorney Daniel Becnel Jr., and local businessman Pat Sellars, owner of A3M, combined to make the land sale according to Becnel. While neither man would confirm the sales price of the property, sources to L’Observateur revealed the land sold for over $10 million.

&#8220Mr. Sellars and myself wanted this property to go to a company that promised to do things right,” Becnel said. &#8220And with people about to get $150,000 each from losing homes in New Orleans, and the expansion of Marathon Oil here, there is going to be a population explosion in St. John. Fortunately we can still build affordable houses here and we felt like this company was a good one to sell the land to for that reason.”