A 58-acre retail development anchored by Costco Wholesale and including several first-time Lafayette locations for national chains is set to open March 2016 at the busy corner of Kaliste Saloom Road and Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
Ambassador Town Center will feature such tenants as Nordstrom Rack, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field & Stream, World of Beer, HomeGoods, Freddy’s Custard & Steakburgers, among others.
The project, estimated at $110 million, will be among the largest retail centers in Acadiana, and public officials at a ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday talked enthusiastically about shoppers traveling here from throughout the region to go to the center.
“Ambassador Town Center and its retailers will be a shopping destination,” said Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux.
The retail center will create about 1,000 permanent jobs and generate about $9 million in annual sales tax revenue for the city , which gets 2 cents of the local 9-cent sales tax, according to figures from Stirling Properties, which is developing the project with CBL & Associates Properties.
Stirling has developed several retail centers in the state, including the Target-anchored retail development at Louisiana Avenue and Interstate 10 in Lafayette.
CBL & Associates owns the Acadiana Mall.
Ambassador Town Center will be the third Costco location in Louisiana.
The popular bulk retailer opened its first in New Orleans in 2013 and its second in Baton Rouge last year.
The Lafayette project benefits from an incentive approved by the local Industrial Development Board that allows the developers to use an estimated $11.5 million in property tax collections for projects to ease traffic flow in the area, such as new traffic signals, deceleration lanes and a new road connecting Kaliste Saloom Road and Frem Boustany Road.
The use of the tax money attracted controversy last year, when a small but vocal group of community members and some City-Parish Council members questioned why incentives would be offered for a retail project, especially in an area where new businesses seem to be popping up every day.
“There were certainly some arrows that were shot,” said Ryan Pecot, a senior leasing executive with Stirling.
Gothreaux and City-Parish President Joey Durel supported the tax incentives, characterizing the retail center as an economic development project.
“Overwhelmingly, people will endorse this with their steering wheels,” Gothreaux said.
Work is moving forward on the retail center as the local business environment faces an uncertain future because of weak oil prices.
Outside of some scattered layoffs, no major impacts have been felt, but retail sales for February were down from last year by about 2 percent, according to figures released by LEDA on Wednesday.
Still, Ambassador Town Center is taking shape just down the road from River Ranch in one of the more flush areas of Lafayette.
The households within 1 mile of the development have an average household income of $109,933, according to figures from Stirling.
A second phase of the Ambassador Town Center project is being planned for an adjacent 60-acre site, which Pecot said will be a mixed-use development that will likely include multifamily housing and a hotel.