The housing boom West Baton Rouge Parish has experienced over the past few years is showing no signs of slowing any time soon.
Two large-scale projects that will add nearly 400 new single-family and multi-family housing units are expected to break ground early next year, according to Parish President Riley "Pee Wee" Berthelot
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And, he said, a third set of private developers have approached the parish about building a new middle-class subdivision that could feature as many as 700 new homes.
The growth is a double-edged sword, though.
"With growth comes challenges," Berthelot said. "Our traffic problems are going to increase. But once we get more residential stuff over here, we'll get more commercial (development). And commercial is our life blood."
One of the large-scale projects in the works is a blend of commercial and residential, which Berthelot said is desirable.
Bearing Point Properties of Baton Rouge plans to break ground in early 2018 on a development off La. 1 South in Addis that will include a 15,000-square-foot strip mall a stand-alone restaurant. The project, set for construction on the All Star Property near the Dow Westside YMCA, is going to feature 43 single-family town homes and 276 multi-family units.
Addis Mayor David Toups said the developers' ambitious vision and renderings of their plans have warmed him to having the project in his town.
"I see it as a better opportunity for more retail to move into the area — along with a nice restaurant," he said. "We would think we already had enough rooftops to entice businesses to come over here but, according to them, it's not enough."
"Unfortunately we have to get bigger to grow commercially," Toups said.
Given the traffic issues involved in crossing the bridge, he said, it would be more convenient if residents living on the west side of the river had a greater number of options for shopping and dining in West Baton Rouge Parish.
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The second shovel-ready development is a single-family subdivision on Court Street in Port Allen. The first phase consists of building 65 homes.
Berthelot said the project, called "Westview Crossing," could expand in the future to include 400 homes and commercial development as well.
The parish has also met with other developers who are in the planning stages of turning undeveloped land along La. 1, locally known as Reed Farm, into a new subdivision akin to the Sugar Mill subdivision in Addis.
"They want to do about 690-something dwellings," Berthelot said. "I think our residential side will continue to grow."
On average, he says the parish issues approximately 18 permits each month for new housing developments. The most the parish has ever issued in one year was 220 after Hurricane Katrina, according to a 10-year analysis report.
That annual number has hovered around the 200 mark since 2013. Berthelot said the parish expects to issue about 210 building permits this year.
In his recent state of the parish address, Berthelot said there are about 9,000 households in West Baton Rouge. The parish's population has grown by 6.4 percent since 2010 and households have a median income of about $49,202, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
"The industry side has been on the boom in the past and that's slowing down a bit," Berthelot said. "People may be coming over here because we have the jobs even though they'll have to fight that traffic."