GONZALES — The property owner of 100 acres of pastureland along South Veterans Boulevard is beginning to build the infrastructure required by the city now that parcels of the property have attracted buyers, the first being the developers of two major luxury apartment complexes.
Charles Bondy, speaking for the landowner, a corporation called Montan Landco that's held by members of the family who also own the Price LeBlanc automobile dealerships, said recently that work has begun on a sewer lift station and force main pipe that will tie into the city's sewer system.
"Minimal road work will be involved" on Veteran's Boulevard during the project that's not expected to disrupt traffic," Bondy said. Montan Landco has land on both sides of South Veterans Boulevard.
The two-lane road is a link between Orice Roth Road to the north, which is home to a fire station, school and subdivisions, and heavily traveled La. 30 to the south, which is home to the Tanger Outlet Center, Cabela's and numerous hotels and restaurants.
Next to come will be projects along Veterans Boulevard, including a 10-foot, paved "shared-use" path for walkers and cyclists that will run the length of the west side of Veterans Boulevard and will be built by Montan Landco.
A 6-foot-wide strip of landscaped greenery will be added along the boulevard between the path and the road in front of the apartment sites and will continue to be planted down the boulevard as more projects come to the property, City Engineer Jackie Baumann said.
The improvements are required to meet city codes on sewer, drainage, landscaping and walkability, she said.
The plan that Montan Landco presented to the city is a "very, very good solution" to the code requirements, she said.
All along the east side of Veterans Boulevard where the land is lower than on the west side, Montan Landco will be putting in what's called a "bioswale" drainage system that will be 18 feet wide and features rocks with water-loving plants that will capture water and percolate it down into the ground, Baumann said.
In an agreement reached with the city, the company will also collect traffic impact fees of approximately $2,000 per acre from the apartment builders and future developments. The money will go into an escrow account to use to help meet traffic demands.
High traffic on La. 30, which Veterans Boulevard intersects at its southern end, is a perennial problem in Gonzales. The two-lane state highway, with a middle turn lane part of the way, is a heavily traveled route for plant workers as well as shoppers.
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The state Department of Transportation and Development in 2016 presented Gonzales residents with a study then underway — and expected to be completed later that year —which proposed three different options for easing traffic congestion on La. 30.
Baumann said the DOTD options don't include a traffic signal or a roundabout where Veterans Boulevard intersects the busy state highway because that intersection is too close to a nearby ramp to Interstate 10.
To help work with that situation, Montan Landco has dedicated land on its property for a possible east-west connector road from Veterans Boulevard to South Commerce Avenue, Baumann said, as well as dedicated land near Orice Roth Road for a possible roundabout.
The company will also improve the pavement where Veterans intersects with La. 30, she said.
The Houston-based Brownstone Ventures company will bring the 212-unit luxury apartments, The Legacy at Veterans Boulevard, to 13 acres on the east side of Veterans Boulevard.
Bondy, with Montan Landco, said the developers have purchased the property and recently began site work there.
Montan Landco is under contract to sell 13.39 acres on the west side of Veterans Boulevard to Bearing Point Properties of Baton Rouge, which plans to build a 272-unit luxury apartment complex to be called Cypress Square, Bondy said.
He said the sale is expected to be completed early this year.
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Both apartments are aimed at an upscale market. The developers of The Legacy apartments have said the complex will offer fitness centers, media rooms, a resort-style swimming pool with outdoor TVs and dog-walking areas.