St. Charles Parish officials are set to unveil their ideas for revitalizing a mostly declining stretch of road that runs through Boutte and Luling at a farmers market Wednesday, though no concrete plans are in place to undertake the projects.
Renderings showing potential development of the Paul Maillard Road corridor will be on display from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Winnwood Shopping Center in Luling.
The ideas include a main drag of mixed residential and commercial properties from the Mississippi River to the Union Pacific Railroad crossing, a town center anchored by St. Charles Parish Hospital that extends from the railroad crossing to Canal Street, and a residential area from Canal Street to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad crossing near U.S. 90.
The plans, which also include adding a sidewalk and wide path within an existing right-of-way, are intended to improve and expand the housing stock and promote economic development in the area, which has about 2,140 residents.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the parish a $442,422 grant to help cover the study’s $654,137 cost.
However, there is no telling whether or when the plan might become reality. Parish officials are optimistic that with the study in hand, they will be ready to apply for grants and programs that would pay for the work, though no applications are in the works, parish spokeswoman Renee Allemand Simpson said.
The 2.6-mile stretch is one of three parish roadways connecting La. 18 and U.S. 90. The study area, which runs from River Road on the north to U.S. 90 on the south and extends about 500 feet to the east and west of Paul Maillard Road, includes the parish’s public housing office, a 66-unit public housing complex, the parish-owed hospital, an elementary school and 78 acres of undeveloped land.
The road itself dates back to the 1860s, when a bypass was needed to buffer Ellington Plantation — which later became Luling — from traffic, according to the grant application the parish submitted to HUD. Properties on the west side of the road later became Boutte.
The application noted that “because Paul Maillard Road was built as a bypass rather than a main street or central avenue, each side of the road was platted at different times and in very different patterns. The result is a road that, in spite of mixed residential-commercial development and adjacent walkable neighborhoods, separates neighborhoods and fails to create a sense of place.”
In 1959, St. Charles Parish Hospital was built at the center of the study area. A grocery store once had a prominent spot in the corridor, but that space has been vacant for decades.
“Although the hospital has experienced continuous growth, the corridor has experienced disinvestment and decline in most other segments,” the application said.
The plan is slated for final adoption at the Parish Council’s Dec. 17 meeting.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.