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Teche Ridge slow to take shape on the ground

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Posted: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 12:00 am

The “New Urbanist” development paradigm was established in Louisiana with Lafayette’s River Ranch and has since spawned a growing trend throughout the state.

For Teche Ridge — New Iberia’s future version of River Ranch — the ongoing attempt to make dirt fly has been equally, if not more, difficult.

River Ranch architect Steve Oubre, of Lafayette-based Architects Southwest, said it’s normal for “urbanist projects,” or Traditional Neighborhood Designs, like Teche Ridge and River Ranch, to take longer than traditional residential and commercial development projects.

While Oubre’s firm is engaged in seven TND projects in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas, he said there are more than 10 TND’s that are either developed or in the process of being developed in Louisiana.

Teche Ridge is designed to merge residential and commercial zones into one miniaturized “walkable community” on 100 acres at the corner of Old Jeanerette Road and Emile Verret Road. The actual development phase of Teche Ridge has been pending for about four years, but Oubre said it took about one year to acquire the nearly 100 zoning ordinance variances from the Lafayette Consolidated Government before the River Ranch development was allowed to get under way.

Since overcoming several zoning ordinance obstacles with the Iberia Parish Council — the most recent in 2009 — the only thing standing between Teche Ridge and development is financing.

“River Ranch was done at a time when the market was getting solid,” Oubre said. “We’re in a very different market today, but Teche Ridge is moving at a rate that’s commensurate with all the TND’s we’re doing.”

Oubre said once complete, Teche Ridge will be a neighborhood that offers residents a range of homes of varying prices and styles within walking distance of restaurants, a variety of shops, a medical clinic and even a bank — Community First, which is already in operation at the corner of the development site.

The planning phase for Teche Ridge kicked off in 2006, to which Lorna Bourg, executive director of Southern Mutual Help Association and the project’s developer, said she credits the lag in transitioning to the development phase to the “meltdown” of financial markets nationwide.

“Many banks are not deploying the money they have,” Bourg said.

Bourg said Southern Mutual is in the process of obtaining the $4 million needed to finance the development of Teche Ridge’s basic infrastructure, such as sewerage and roadways.

“We’re in the process of negotiating with a number of parties for financing,” she said.

Yet, Bourg and Southern Mutual have are steadfast and recently received a $25,000 grant from JP Morgan Chase Foundation for Teche Ridge, along with two leads for potential financiers for the project.

Bourg said if an agreement is signed with the financial partners that she declined to name, the development phase of Teche Ridge could get under way in March or April, but she added, if other leads are pursued, it could be summer before the project begins.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Anonymous posted at 6:49 am on Thu, Nov 18, 2010.

    Anonymous Posts: 127480

    You people are so negative. I bet if you were the developers of this project, and would benefit financially like they probably will, you would be all for it. You don't cry when they use the same amount of land to build a walmart supercenter where you could save a few pennies. Developments like this is what draws new people to new iberia, hopefully to replace the negative, sheltered people like yourselves. Did it ever occur to any of you that older retired people may not want a yard that they have to maintain? Asfarasweneedfood,yougetplentyofitwithyourfoodstamps..notoutofacanefield.

  • Anonymous posted at 8:56 am on Thu, Nov 11, 2010.

    Anonymous Posts: 127480

    This property needs to go back to farmland. We need food, not more empty houses for sale. Besides, if anyone has money in this area, they are moving to Youngsville, Broussard, or Lafayette where more services are offered.

  • Anonymous posted at 3:43 am on Thu, Nov 11, 2010.

    Anonymous Posts: 127480

    A mirror from Lafayette in New Iberia. Hum.. Now why wouldn't conservative bankers want to give away money?? A shovel hasn't been turned and the parish council has allowed more waivers than any other development.Waivers make loaners nervous.

  • Anonymous posted at 11:02 am on Wed, Nov 10, 2010.

    Anonymous Posts: 127480

    A waste of money and I have heard previously Southern Mutual has argued with parish council to be able to sell lots and I believe they have done so. What are they really buying.....something that will never come to light. Teche Ridge is a joke.

  • Anonymous posted at 10:46 am on Wed, Nov 10, 2010.

    Anonymous Posts: 127480

    >The “New Urbanist” development> paradigmThat "paradigm" is fine for some people, but don't force it on me. I'd go nuts living in River Ranch, shoved in so close to my neighbors. I lived in an apartment in college and I have enough of it. Moreover, there's no way I could afford to live in the ritzier part of River Ranch where people actually have "yards." I wouldn't want to live there anyway. Give me a yard where I can plant a tree without getting approved by committee.

  • Anonymous posted at 1:28 am on Wed, Nov 10, 2010.

    Anonymous Posts: 127480

    What is the current status of the project to deepen The Port of Iberia channel? This project, if successfully implemented, will present far greater problems for flooding in Iberia Parish than the Teche Ridge development. It would seem to duplicate the challenges N.O. faced during Hurricane Katrina withthe Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, (MRGO)-now closed-.Think positive, respect all, live free. New Iberia is a wonderful place, enjoy it!

  • Anonymous posted at 5:10 pm on Tue, Nov 9, 2010.

    Anonymous Posts: 127480

    While I love River Ranch in Lafayette and the idea of a similar concept here in New Iberia, I don't think this is such a great idea for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I don't see the economy turning around for some time. Secondly, we are losing all of the more rural acreage and if we continue to do so, we will see flooding become a big problem thanks to "progress". Excess water has to have a place to go and I feel flooding would become more prominent in that area should this become a reality.


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