The developers of a planned $500 million mixed-use development west of Zachary will ask the City Council to annex the 413-acre property and the land between it and the city.
Charles Landry, the attorney representing Americana, told a group of planning commissioners, council members, department heads and other Zachary officials Thursday that the development would first request resolutions of support for the project, a cooperative endeavor agreement between it and the city, an Economic Development District to fund public improvements and the zoning designation it would need to begin construction.
Though the resolutions, one from the City Council and one from the Planning Commission, would be nonbinding, they would give the developers confidence to begin the annexation process even though none of the agreements the developers want can be done officially until after it is annexed.
By law, a municipality must take in the property as it is currently zoned, which in this case is rural.
The issue, Landry said, is complicated and the deadline is tight, both of which necessitated the informational workshop hastily called for Thursday, though, he said, all meetings will be posted and open to the public.
A special meeting of the council will likely be called within the next few weeks.
Landry explained that the development’s original design, approved three years ago by the city-parish Planning Commission, required a wetlands permit that property owners John Engquist, John Campesi and Michael Campesi and developer Robert Daigle decided not to pursue.
Instead, they redesigned the development to leave the wetlands intact, shifting the commercial center of Americana to the northwest portion of the property.
This got them thinking about taking a different approach to how the development would integrate with Highway 64 and the rest of the city.
Letting the traditional neighborhood development zoning — which it received in 2008 from the city-parish — lapse in March, Americana’s developers came up with the plan they pitched to Zachary officials Thursday night: Americana would like a cooperative endeavor agreement with the city to create an economic development district, made up of City Council members, that would use tax increment financing — 1 cent in undedicated sales tax from the city and 1 cent extra levied in Americana — to fund five projects.
The first project would be $1.5 million in improvements to Highway 64, including landscaping and a sculpture-centered roundabout. The sculpture would represent Zachary, not Americana, Landry said, and create a signature transition between the property and the city.
The second would be $850,000 in public trails that would connect the east side of Americana, where some of the wetlands are, to a new BREC park nearby. This portion would be fronted by the developers but would come from the TIF.
The third would be connecting Americana to the city’s sewer system, while the fourth and fifth would be converting some ditches behind the property to culverts and creating a “town hall” for civic functions.
Landry said that if public meetings don’t flush out opposition, and the city passes the resolution of support, and the planning commission similarly agrees to non-binding support of the zoning change necessary, the annexation process could take as little as 60 days.
Then Zachary would have to go through the process of publicly approving it.
The developers want to begin work on the first phase in the fall. Landry said much of the hurry comes from obligations tied to the $8 million YMCA, which will take about 14 months to build. The first phase also includes a 10-screen movie theater and homes and other residential developments.
The information presented Thursday will be available at Mayor David Amrhein’s office early next week.