BROUSSARD — Construction should begin in the first half of 2016 on a $60 million retail center in Broussard, a project announced a year ago but delayed because of uncertainty over the state’s plans for the intersection at U.S. 90 and Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
Acadian Crossing, planned by Birmingham, Alabama-based developer Blackwater Resources, was to have its first retail store opened by summer 2016.
But Blackwater and some of the prospective Acadian Crossing tenants were apprehensive about the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s years-old plan for the interchange at Ambassador and U.S. 90, which is published on the DOTD website, Broussard Mayor Charlie Langlinais said.
The DOTD’s drawings show a future Ambassador-U.S. 90 interchange with elevated on- and off-ramps that sweep over some of the acreage planned for development. If the interchange project were built according to the drawings, the land near those fly-over lanes would need to be owned by Louisiana for a right of way, and any development built within that right of way would have to be purchased by the state.
Langlinais said Blackwater officials and those from one of Acadian Crossing’s anchor tenants, a well-known grocer, didn’t want the uncertainty; he said they were loathe to lay out tens of millions of dollars now when there is a possibility future commerce could be interrupted.
“That’s been the biggest delay. … The major grocery tenant has agreed to buy the main parcel (of Acadian Crossing land), but they will not sign a buy-sell agreement until the state acquires the fly-over right of way,” said Langlinais, who declined to name the grocery store tenant.
“I told them (DOTD) that I can’t promote retail until they get this done,” he said.
DOTD spokeswoman Deidra Druilhet said last week that transportation officials have started working to acquire the land for the fly-over right of way. Druilhet also said that although the DOTD is buying right-of-way land for the fly-over ramps, the ramps will not be included when the interchange is built in the next few years.
Druilhet said that although Louisiana has money for the interchange design, it does not have the $100 million to $125 million needed to build it.
Meanwhile, Langlinais said, Blackwater is reworking Acadian Crossing’s design to move it away from the right of way at the Ambassador-U.S. 90 intersection.
Blackwater executive Jay Timon in January 2015 addressed the Broussard City Council about Acadian Crossing. Efforts last week to reach Timon and Amy McMullen, Blackwater’s chief operation officer, were unsuccessful.
The council later approved up to $3.5 million to widen St. Etienne Road, which skirts along the rear of the Acadian Crossing acreage, from two lanes to three. Broussard also will build two roads that will run through the development from St. Etienne Road.
Langlinais said the city has gotten the necessary permits to widen St. Etienne, and Entergy has agreed to move power lines as part of the widening project. He said Entergy’s lines will have to be moved before the road work begins.
According to a site schematic, plans are to set aside more than eight acres for future development on the north end of the site.
Blackwater and the city of Broussard are banking on Acadian Crossing drawing from tens of thousands of shoppers who live southeast along U.S. 90 in Morgan City, New Iberia, Houma and Thibodaux. They also are banking on business from residents who live closer and want to avoid inner-Lafayette’s notorious traffic.