Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Townhouses Near Acadiana High

Residential development continues in Western Lafayette, despite the chilled home market. Robert Barras applied for a permit for work to begin on a $440,000 townhome development on Rue de Belier, near Acadiana High School, off West Congress St.

Even though Acadiana is doing much better than the rest of the country, selling a home is not the easiest thing to do right now. I have heard that the most active buyers are first-time homebuyers who see this as a great opportunity to get into the market. These townhomes will likely fit into that category. Below is a Google Street View of the location.

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CVS, Bank Planned for Youngsville

Tipster John tells me ANOTHER CVS Pharmacy is in the works for Acadiana, this time in the rapidly growing Youngsville area. The chain will build a store next to the new Rouses grocery store on Hwy. 92 next to the Sugar Mill Pond development. CVS recently filed paperwork for a new stores at the intersections of Bendel Rd. at Pinhook Rd. and Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. at Verot School Rd.

Next door to the new Sugar Mill Pond CVS will be a Gulf Coast Bank branch. No word on when construction will start, but a sign is up at the site on Hwy. 92. After many years of speculation, it looks like the Youngsville area is finally seeing significant commercial development. Expect this to continue with the completion of the Ambassador Caffery Extension, which will cross through the area on its route from Verot School Rd. to Hwy. 90.

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Ex-Bennigan's Changes Names Again

If you don't recognize the name River City Grill, you may recognize the restaurant by it's short-term former name - Shenanigan's. Still doesn't ring a bell? It's the old Bennigan's. The Ambassador Caffery restaurant has once again changed names after major financial troubles at Bennigan's caused many franchise owners to back out fo the chain.

Most Bennigan's locations in Louisiana are owned by the same owner, and I've noticed the ex-Bennigan's in Metairie is also now a River City Grill. I have no clue where the name comes from, but I'm assuming it has something to do with the chain's Baton Rouge-based owner.

As for what happened with Shenanigan's - I have two guesses. Either someone else has already trademarked the name for a similar Irish-themed restaurant, or the genre wasn't that popular with diners minus a big brand name.

Has anyone tried Shenanigan's or River City Grill? Leave a comment below.

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Location for Lafayette Bakery?

Anjo's Bakery may be making a cross-town move. The bakery has taken out a $60,000 permit to renovate space at 1527 Ambassador Caffery, which appears to be near the location of a new shopping center at Ambassador and Eraste Landry Rd. Anjo's has been located on Kaliste Saloom Rd. near Rue Louis XIV. No word yet on the cake-makers are expanding to a second location - or moving the entire operation.

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Oil Center Bank Lobby Temporarily Closes

The lobby of Whitney Bank's Oil Center branch on Audubon Blvd. is getting an extreme renovation. The branch will be drive-through only for at least the next four months, as the lobby area is gutted and transformed into a more modern space. All of the bank's employees will stay at the Oil Center location through the renovation - they'll just be working out of the drive-through area. City records show the work is permitted at nearly $400,000.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Surprise! Hotel Boom Not Over...

After years of hotel construction in Lafayette, get ready for another new property. The Best Western brand is returning to Pinhook Rd., just across the street from what used to be the Best Western Hotel Acadiana (now a Crowne Plaza). A building permit has been issued for the Best Western Oil Center Suites on Rue Fernand, which is just behind Chili's.

I've heard that Oil Center hotels frequently stay fully booked with business travelers during the week. I guess that would explain why so many hotels have recently opened in the Pinhook / Kaliste Saloom area (Staybridge Suites, Wingate Inn, Residence Inn, Holiday Inn Express). The hotel is permitted at $1.8 million.

New Louisiana Mall on Hold

If you've driven down I-12 through St. Tammany Parish in the past year or so, you must have noticed the commercial construction boom along the corridor. As the Northshore population exploded after Hurricane Katrina, so did commercial development. Now it seems one project that hoped to cash in on new Northshore neighbors is temporarily on ice.

New Orleans TV station WDSU reports Nord du Lac, a major lifestyle retail center which was going to have about 100 stores, will not open in March as planned. The report says the buildings that have been completed are simply being mummified in Tyvek - only to be unwrapped when the economy begins to recover. There are also concerns about the fate of a very similar project (called Summit Fremeaux) in Slidell, where construction is in more preliminary stages.

Even though I do believe the post-Katrina Northshore market was over-hyped, I think the slowdown on these two projects can be mostly attributed to skittish national retailers. Both projects are coming from respectable national retail developers. But right now, no one wants to expand.

The only similar property that was even proposed in Lafayette, was the development of the huge chunk of land at the Ambassador Caffery / Kaliste Saloom intersection. River Ranch developer Robert Daigle, who was also trying to create an outdoor mall at that site tells me all plans are on hold until the national retailers decide they want to once again grow.