By Lisa Hanchey
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Dewitt “Zeen” David
Dewitt “Zeen” David, commercial sales manager of Van Eaton & Romero, makes a habit of driving off the beaten path to see for himself what kind of commercial activity is going on. He likes to get a glimpse at early signs of development long before companies make their official announcements, and he also is keen at assessing the kind of energy that’s created by infrastructure improvements and the addition of new retailers to a particular area.
ABiz sat down with David recently to find out what he projects as the spokes for commercial real estate development surrounding the Hub City for 2012.
South Lafayette continues to get the lion’s share of activity, with new businesses popping up all along the seven-mile extension of Ambassador Caffery South between Verot School Road and U.S. Hwy. 90. These include Tiger Automotive, Pellegrin’s A/C & Heat, Bubba Montesano’s State Farm Insurance office and a new Fuel-N-Food at Hwy 89. Twelve parcels of land are currently for sale on this corridor. “I think one of the misconceptions is that this area is going to fill up overnight,” David says. “One of the challenges I think that area has, at this time, is that there is not enough residential development in that general area to attract the big-time retailers.”
Nearby in Broussard, Albertson Parkway is quickly filling up with retail and small merchants. Having a big impact on the area is the major development across U.S. Hwy. 90 with Walmart, Walgreens and Home Depot. Further south of Le Triomphe on Hwy. 90, two very large industrial facilities are in the works. “Primarily, what I see in Broussard right now is industrial,” David says. “There are several small industrial parks that are being built, and they are selling fairly quickly.”
Down the road in Youngsville, one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation, many new retail and commercial developments are in the works, and plans are cooking for a new sports complex. Increased residential development is attracting businesses, leading to more traffic. However, several recently completed road projects have helped to relieve some of the congestion around Sugar Mill Pond.
Closer to I-10 in Scott, the Apollo Road extension south to Hwy. 92, with a projected completion date of 2014, is already drawing interest. This project will allow travelers to bypass Lafayette to Ambassador Caffery. “Improved traffic flow, in my mind, attracts businesses when people can get to them fairly easily,” David says. “And, I think that’s going to be a big improvement for Scott.” Mayor Purvis Morrison is aggressively seeking new businesses, and his strategy is working. Along the I-10 service road, Holiday Inn Express and Schumacher Homes have recently added locations. Louisiana Plating & Coatings just announced a $9 million investment on Cameron Street near Apollo Road.
North of Lafayette, the newly resurfaced and three-laned North University overlay from I-10 through Carencro is attracting development. At Gloria Switch Road is a new Walgreens. Several new retail centers are springing up on Veterans Boulevard from North University to Interstate 49. On Hector Connoly at I-49, Lourdes’ AfterHours has opened, and a new Super 1 Foods is under construction.
In Upper Lafayette, the shopping center at Louisiana Avenue at I-10 recently opened Academy Sports & Outdoors, drawing record crowds. Louisiana Avenue is now completed to Maryview Farm Road and is under construction all the way to Gloria Switch Road. A new Halliburton facility in Northpark is expected to have a major impact on the area.
Ongoing road projects in the Lafayette area are expected to improve traffic flow and attract businesses. “I think one of the things we have to look at, and it’s always a challenge in Lafayette, is that our traffic is horrendous,” David observes. “We’ve experienced some unbelievable growth over the past several years. And, there’s not much we can do overnight. It’s going to take time.”
In addition to Louisiana Avenue Extension, other road projects on the horizon include the widening of Kaliste Saloom Road from Ambassador Caffery to E. Broussard Road, the widening of Verot School Road and the widening of Hwy. 90 south from Lafayette to Broussard. “That’s going to help, I think, to some extent,” David says.
For 2012, David projects improvement in all sectors. While office sales and leasing have been somewhat soft, retail sales and leasing is improving. Industrial sales and leasing are much stronger, and multi-family sales are on the upswing as well. “What I really see is that all of the areas in general are going to experience some moderate and steady growth,” David says. “We are fortunate to live in an area where we run contrary to what the national media says. Overall, I see the commercial market for 2012 to be as good, if not better, than what we saw in 2011.”