New Life in Louisiana

To view Livingston Parish from above is to picture the opportunity that exists on a stretch of Louisiana land sandwiched between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. As developers Creekstone Cos., of Baton Rouge and Houston, and Montgomery, Ala.-based Jim Wilson & Associates launch the massive Juban Crossing project at the intersection of Interstate 12 and Juban Road, it’s not uncommon for I-12 travelers to catch a glimpse of helicopters—holding department store or big-box representatives—hovering over the 471-acre site.

“We have had all the department store groups up in helicopters looking at the site, a lot of the big boxes and many of the mass merchants,” said Will Wilson, president of Jim Wilson & Associates (JWA). “And they all like what they’ve seen.”

What they have seen is evidence that Louisiana is rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005—and rebuilding in a big way. Juban Crossing will be the largest mixed-use development in the state, located in Louisiana’s fastest-growing parish—

Livingston—and encompassing shopping, dining, entertainment, hotel sites, office and medical components, and upscale residences. “Livingston Parish is one of those areas that you have in your book, marked ‘one day,’” said Wilson. “The storm made that day come a lot faster.”

What Katrina did was speed the growth of a parish that was already experiencing a surge. The public schools rank among the top two districts in the state, and Baton Rouge (the state capital and located just 12 miles from the site of the new project) has, since Katrina, experienced traffic-volume increases equivalent to 16 years of growth.

Juban Crossing and Juban Market Place

Location: Denham Springs, La., 12 miles east of Baton Rouge at the Interstate 12 and new Juban Road interchange in Livingston Parish Size: Juban Crossing (the open-air lifestyle component) is 838,000 sq. ft.; Juban Market Place (power center) is 457,000 sq. ft., for 1,295,000 total retail sq. ft.

Developer: Joint venture between Jim Wilson & Associates and Creekstone Cos.

Major tenants: Juban Crossing will include two department store anchors, specialty stores, fine-dining, fast-casual restaurants and a theater; Juban Market Place will feature big-box tenants and eight to 10 mid-sized box stores plus outparcels.

Status: Groundbreaking is slated for summer 2007, opening in phases starting in 2008.

Project highlights: The development will be distinguished by its size and scope alone—including 1.2 million sq. ft. of retail, 385,000 sq. ft. of medical/office space, 625 single-family home sites and 524 homes in multi-family units, as well as hotels, restaurants, a movie theater, amphitheater and plentiful public spaces— but has even greater significance as the Gulf Coast continues to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

“If you look at the demographics of this site,” said Stephen Keller, co-founder of Creekstone Cos., which is co-developing the retail with JWA and is sole developer on the remainder of the project, “within a 10-mile radius there are 290,000 people, and in a 30-mile radius there are close to 850,000 people. This development, with its large lifestyle component, medical and office, as well as the residential, will be the only one of its type and size in the state.”

Tenants are responding to the hype. As Katrina forced relocation of state populations, retailers began taking closer looks at the I-12 corridor, noting its growth and surprising lack of retail—which has made Juban Crossing, with its one-mile-plus of interstate frontage and new interchange, a highly desirable development.

At presstime, no specific tenant names could be released, but at least one major department store has inked its commitment and “the interest from retailers, theaters, restaurants, hospitality, banks—we have six that want in—is so overwhelming because everybody wants to get their foothold in Livingston Parish,” said Keller. “That’s where the growth is.”

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