Modular plant is planned here

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 18, 2006

Businessman plans 275 jobs in St. John Parish


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The recent sale of 1,700 acres of land on the West Bank of St. John Parish, just at the foot of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, could bring any number of new developments to the parish.

And already at the front of the list appears to be a modular manufacturing plant by the current owner of C.T. Boudreaux Lumber in Gramercy, that could bring well over 200 jobs to the area.

Charles Daher, who bought C.T. Boudreaux Lumber two years ago, confirmed to L’Observateur that he is pressing forward with plans to begin the modular manufacturing plant that will produce modular homes, as well as give the area a local millwork and window factory for residential construction.

Daher said he is projecting 270 jobs, 70 percent of those being semi-skilled jobs, with training provided on site.

With 23 years in the construction industry, as well as public works and contracting, Daher has lived in the area for the past four years.

He said that he saw a great need for the modular manufacturing plant after Hurricane Katrina, and said his homes will be built to withstand 140 mile per hour winds.

&#8220After driving through and visiting East New Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, I was absolutely horrified by the magnitude of the destruction. I have experienced hurricanes before and assisted with rebuilding efforts in parts of the Caribbean after Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Allen and Tropical Storm Debbie,” he explained. &#8220So now I feel compelled to help with the rebuilding effort in New Orleans.”

Daher said he has been investigating different building methods, and finally decided that the modular housing was the best quality, fastest and best solution for the needs of this area.

&#8220These homes appreciate in value, and look exactly like stick built houses,” he said. &#8220But the advantage is the fact that the homes are built in a factory environment, out of the weather and under the watchful eyes of third party inspecting engineers.

&#8220I believe America was built by entrepreneurs and New Orleans will ultimately be rebuilt by entrepreneurs,” he added.

Daher said he hopes to be in production with the plant by August of 2007.

The modular plant will be located on 100 acres of the 1,700 acre tract recently purchased by Don Robert, an Ascension Parish businessman who lives in Gonzales.

The purchase was brokered by Carl Monica and Aaron Cross of APC Realty for a cost of $7.3 million, and was formerly owned by Formosa Chemical, which had bought the land years ago with the intent to built a large rayon plant.

Robert and his five brothers made their fortune with Super Stop convenience stores in the region, now 18 of them.

&#8220We’ve been talking to many different businesses about what might go there, but right now Mr. Daher is the one businessman who appears ready to begin something,” Robert said. &#8220We’ve shown the property to many people already, so a lot of other things might end up there.”

The property will be divided to residential, commercial and light industrial, and has miles of frontage on the Mississippi River, as well as the railroad and interstates very close by.

&#8220The modular plant by Mr. Daher will be great for that area since it is a business that has no smokestacks,” Monica, one of the leading real estate brokers in St. John Parish said. &#8220It took us over a year to make this deal happen, but now that it is finished, we believe there could be some great businesses that come to this area.”

The property was the original site of Whitney Plantation, and should prove to be prime real estate with the Louisiana Highway Department recently beginning construction of Hwy. 3213, which will connect from the Veterans Memorial Bridge to Highway 3127.