Juban Crossing bill heads to House floor

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The long proposed Juban Crossing shopping development takes another step forward at the State Capitol Wednesday. It is familiar territory for those supporting the project, who hopes this will be the year they turn the corner.

The Juban Crossing bill, SB 50, is written by Senator Dale Erdey of Livingston and calls for state funds to get the project up and rolling. Wednesday it passed through the House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee giving supporters a confidence boost heading into the final weeks of the session.

The steady flow of traffic and packed parking lots became synonymous with Towne Center in Baton Rouge. "It brings retailers to Livingston Parish that we now have to drive elsewhere to go to," said Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin.

Mayor Durbin envisions a similar scenario for the empty lot off Juban Road and I-12. He and other Livingston Parish leaders have been fighting for the project for more than five years.

"What we will see is a gradual move two and a half miles to the east and more and more towards Walker and Livingston along the I-12 corridor with these types of developments," said Mayor Durbin.

The development like Towne Center would require start up funds for the state not to exceed a $45 million bond. Money that Senator Erdey says will come back to the state from sales taxes once the development is operational.

"You're getting zero taxes right now. If you do the development with the state help, then you're going to get three cents of the four cents. The other one penny goes towards infrastructure, the bonds needed to fund the project, and that's needed to jump start it and create the jobs," said Senator Erdey.

According to Senator Erdey, it will create more than 2,500 construction jobs. Mayor Durbin says it will also bring additional funds to the parish for schools and law enforcement.

"What's that going to mean to our parish? It's going to mean a significant revenue stream to help provide the services we want in Livingston Parish," said Mayor Durbin.

The bill will now head to the House floor sometime next week.

The first shop would not be scheduled to open until the fall of 2014.

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