Broussard prepares for new major retail center on U.S. 90 _lowres


The developers behind a $60 million retail center on busy U.S. 90 in Broussard say they hope to open it by summer 2016, and they’re betting the prime location will help capture shoppers from St. Mary Parish to Lafayette.

The project, called Acadian Crossing, is being developed by Birmingham, Alabama-based Blackwater Resources. Blackwater official Jay Timon told the Broussard City Council last week the center’s first stores could open in 2016 and that the 340,000-square-foot center would be fully occupied in a few years.

Council members voted unanimously on Tuesday to widen the two-laned Moulin and St. Etienne roads to three lanes for vehicle access to Acadian Crossing, which will sit on currently empty fields between St. Etienne and U.S. 90. The road-widening projects are being examined by Broussard engineers for projected costs, and council members will vote on final approval.

Also at the council meeting Tuesday was James Plumley Jr., president of Billeaud Companies, a local developer whose project completed in 2008 off St. Nazaire Road in Broussard landed Wal-Mart, Home Depot and ancillary businesses.

Plumley, who sat in the back of the Broussard council room during the Blackwater presentation, eventually stood up and told the council not to forget that Billeaud also is planning a major retail development. That project would be located near the planned Acadian Crossing. Plumley didn’t divulge specifics at the meeting, and several messages left at Plumley’s office last week were not returned.

Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais said in an interview last week that Blackwater has not yet signed a major retailer to anchor Acadian Crossing, though the developer was courting a grocery store to be one of the anchors.

“Once the major retailer is in there, it’ll attract everybody else looking for a new location,” he said.

News of the Acadian Crossing and the planned Billeaud development are emerging publicly just as Lafayette is preparing for Ambassador Town Center, a $130 million retail development by Sterling Properties that will be anchored by Costco. The center will occupy 58 acres at the intersection of Kaliste Saloom Road and Ambassador Caffery Parkway.

Langlinais was coy when asked if the Broussard projects would compete with Lafayette’s.

“I’m going to let you draw your own conclusions,” he said.

Langlinais said Broussard is a gateway into the mercantile center of Lafayette Parish for shoppers traveling U.S. 90. He said customers coming from as far southeast as Thibodaux and Morgan City, or from other directions, could stop in Broussard to shop and never venture into the heavy vehicle traffic found in Lafayette’s Kaliste Saloom and Ambassador Caffery areas.

But first, Broussard will have to spend some money.

The Broussard council on Tuesday approved the road-widening measures and also voted to start the process of installing water and sewer infrastructure.

Plans also call for the city to build two short roads that would connect St. Etienne Road to U.S. 90 and provide further access to Acadian Crossing. The connector roads require the approval of the state Department of Transportation and Development. Electrical transmission lines that run parallel with St. Etienne will need to be moved, with those relocation costs paid by Entergy.

Langlinais said Broussard’s expenditure years ago that helped build the Ambassador Caffery extension, which connects to U.S. 90, put the city in a prime position to develop retail complexes.

“When we approved the funding to build the Ambassador Caffery extension, we knew it would make this corner one of the most desired retail spaces anywhere on Highway 90,” he said. “We’re not scared to spend money when it comes to revenue-producing properties.”

Timon, the Blackwater executive, said at the council meeting that Acadian Crossing would generate $134 million in sales per year. Broussard’s annual collections from its 2½-cent sales tax would be about $3.3 million.

Timon declined to comment after Tuesday’s council meeting, referring media inquiries to Blackwater’s home office. Blackwater spokeswoman Amy McMullen said the company does not comment on projects in the early stages of development.