A new Starbucks is expected to open in a growing commercial area of southern Prairieville later this year, a local strip mall owner said.

The national coffee chain will fill a gap in drive-thru coffee shops in the part of Prairieville east of Interstate 10, south of La. 42 and north of Gonzales.

The small commercial building expected to house the Starbucks has been under construction for several weeks at a strip mall anchored by a Rouses Market grocery store on the southwest corner of Duplessis Road and Airline Highway, the owner said.

The new building is going up next to a Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers on the perimeter of the strip mall parking lot.

"I'm hoping to give it to Starbucks the first of August," said Marcy LeBlanc, who owns the strip mall with another member of his family.

Starbucks did not return an email for comment Tuesday about the new store location.

Sometimes known as Duplessis, the area of southern Prairieville where the Starbucks is planned has seen increased commercial development in the past decade or so as rooftops have increased.

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The strip mall that helped lead that growth in Duplessis, which has since included a Walk-On's and a Walmart Neighborhood Market, was formerly the Frais Marché LeBlanc's.

When the LeBlanc family sold the local grocery chain to Rouses Supermarkets in 2016, the family kept the mall building on Airline, Marcy LeBlanc said. 

Founded in 1971, Starbucks helped create the trend of standalone coffee shop franchises that have proliferated in recent decades. 

The chain recently opened a new shop farther southwest in Ascension near the La. 73/I-10 interchange. Before that one, the only Starbucks in Ascension had been farther southwest in Gonzales at the La. 30/I-10 interchange.

Other regional chains have a presence in Ascension, including CC's Coffee House and PJ's Coffee of New Orleans, but none have ventured farther east in the parish than Airline Highway. 

South of La. 42 and east of Airline, pre-made coffee is mostly still available from restaurants and gas stations.

Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com.