Denham Springs — When Denham Springs officials announced plans for a four-story building earlier this year, they playfully called it “The Denham Springs High Rise,” but the city could see a building three times as tall in the future.
The monthly construction report city building official Rick Foster submitted Tuesday to the City Council shows continued development along Florida Avenue and in the growing retail corridor south of Interstate 12.
But some of the most ambitious ideas are still in the planning stage and haven’t reached official status. Among them, a proposed 12-story multi-use structure on South Range Avenue south of Bass Pro Boulevard that could house retailers, restaurants, offices, hotel rooms or some combination thereof.
There are also talks of two other hotels, including a Marriott-brand site off Bass Pro Boulevard and a Holiday Inn on South Range Avenue south of the interstate, Foster said, though he stressed that neither project has submitted permit requests.
Denham Springs already has eight hotels, by Foster’s count, not including one slated for demolition. They seem to turn a brisk business, between construction workers, Baton Rouge visitors who want to stay outside the city and folks who come for Denham Springs attractions like the Bass Pro Shops or the antique district, but Foster admitted that “we can’t do too many more hotels.”
Several other large developments are well beyond the planning stage, and several will open soon. A nail salon and a sandwich shop are both under construction at a new commercial site south of the interstate that already contains a shoe store and a florist.
First Baptist Church is planning a “huge” campus on a 46-acre site on Pete’s Highway north of Tate Road, Foster said. And a large medical complex with multiple dental practices on Veterans Boulevard should wrap up construction within the next month or two.
In other business Tuesday, the council, minus absent member Rene Delahoussaye, named Tom Lay to the Denham Springs Civil Service Board. The body has come under scrutiny in the past year as they investigated the police chief and captain on allegations they covered up drug use by the then-head narcotics officer but abandoned the effort upon learning they broke state law by improperly recording officers’ testimony. Lay will replace Eric Meyers, who retired in February, and join the board as an LSU-appointed civilian member. He is retired from a career in financial investments, Mayor Gerard Landry said.
With the annual Fall Antiques and Crafts Festival in the city’s Antique District approaching in October, council members voted to close portions of North Range, Railroad, Mattie and Rose streets to accommodate vendors, entertainers and shoppers.
The council also accepted a donation of a truck and chemical sprayer from the parish’s mosquito abatement program, which has been defunded and is in the process of shutting down. Landry said city employees are spraying the entire municipality once a week, and the new sprayer could help them keep on schedule by running two trucks one night in case workers aren’t able to spray on a particular day.
The local state house delegation also issued official commendations to former Mayor Jimmy Durbin and former Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Arthur Perkins, who each served the city for over two decades and decided not to seek re-election last year.
Durbin guided the city through a period of massive economic growth, and Perkins was praised for his leadership as an educator in the 1970s during the early days of integration in Livingston Parish schools, said state Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, and state Rep. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs. Tuesday, Perkins was also awarded lifetime membership in the Louisiana Municipal Black Caucus, having already received its lifetime achievement award.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.