Spanning a stretch of almost 100 acres at the edge of town, not far from where Emile Verret Road crosses the Bayou Teche, the seeds of a master-planned community are sprouting.
Former Mayor Hilda Curry and Van Eaton and Romero Realtor Theresa LaCour have been busy conducting tours of the model homes at Teche Ridge lately, leading the leaders of Iberia business and government through a vision long in the making.
“It is important to let folks know that the cry for more, new and needed house tops to attract businesses is being answered by Teche Ridge,” said Lorna Bourg, the executive director and CEO of Southern Mutual Help Agency, the group that gotten Teche Ridge off the ground. “When built out, the development will have 600 homes and 200,000 square feet of commercial development in a walkable, smart-growth community.”
Over the last decade, the SMHA has worked with the city and the parish to rewrite the rules for building codes, to allow for their vision of a “Smart-Growth, Traditional Neighborhood Development”—something of a buzz phrase in urban development lately. The idea is to create an entire, relatively self-contained neighborhood that residents can fully live, work and play in. New building codes and covenants allow for mixed-use construction, so that large homes and small homes, townhomes and apartments, and retail and commercial development all share a walkable space, with public pavilions and community programming.
“It’s really about a fuller quality of life, which does include cultural and artistic elements,” said Denise Galatas, a senior advisor and fiscal project manager at SMHA.
To that end, Teche Ridge’s main pavilion — adjacent to the development’s five model homes, four of which are open to tour and one of which has sold — has already hosted free, outdoor yoga classes and farmers and artisans markets, including one recently run by the non-profit Envision daBerry.
The four homes currently left for sale range in price from $240,000 to more than $420,000, said Bourg, but builders are currently being sought for the build-out of the rest of the community. The first, thirty-acre phase, is split into three parts, the first of which contains the five homes, the central park and public pavilion and a mail cabana and entrance sign lit by solar panels. For the second phase, which covers and area of 67 acres, they are currently seeking builders.
“Townhomes and two-bedroom homes will be designed this year, as there have been requests for those home plans,” said Bourg, adding, “a school is being built to serve the area families, too.”
“This is about economic development,” she said. In the coming years, plans call for the construction of 600 more homes and 200,000 square feet of commercial space, right here in Iberia Parish.