The concept of a traditional neighborhood development has been a tough sell in New Iberia, and a tough road for the nonprofit Southern Mutual Help Association, which after overcoming numerous obstacles over the last six years, seems on the verge of making the long-awaited Teche Ridge a reality.

On Monday, Southern Mutual celebrated at the site of Teche Ridge with a ceremonial ground-breaking, marking the second such event in the history of the development, which like River Ranch and Sugar Mill Pond, is a product of Lafayette architect Steve Oubre.

Design by Steve Oubre / Architects Southwest

Southern Mutual CEO Lorna Bourg, who spoke with ABiz on Friday, says she credits the development’s delays mostly to the outdated zoning regulations and ordinances of the local city and parish governments. Those outdated laws were eventually changed, even resulting in the creation of an ordinance specific to TNDs.

“After watching TNDs being built all around us, it is extremely gratifying to know that SMHA’s work removing the barriers to smart growth development in Iberia Parish has made this day possible,” says Bourg. “Finally, a TND that offers the intergenerational living and walkable lifestyle today’s families want is available in our own parish.”

Bourg says Monday’s event marks the start of phase one of the development, and this time it’s for real thanks to financing from Neighborworks Capital, the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and the Ford Foundation, which in all provided about $4.15 million for the project. In addition to covering the engineering fees, Bourg says that money mostly will go toward construction costs for grading the land for 49 lots, and installing utilities and roads, all of which will be handled by Matt Durand Construction, the company contracted for phase one of the project.

Phases one and two of the Teche Ridge Master Plan

Phase one’s completion, Bourg estimates, is expected some time in the first quarter of 2014, but says the development in its entirety will include about 600 homes built over the next 10 to 15 years.



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