- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

PORT ALLEN, La. (AP) - West Baton Rouge Parish’s industrial development thrived over the years thanks in large part to its close proximity to the Mississippi River.

But the kind of residential and commercial growth that exploded across the river has eluded West Baton Rouge. Parish leaders had to work hard to land a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Port Allen a few years ago and considered that a major coup.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1ZutZPj) elected officials and business leaders in West Baton Rouge say they’d like to see more retail stores and other commercial development. But, they say that it’s unlikely to happen any time soon due to a variety of factors.

Although 80 percent of the land in the parish is undeveloped, much of that is designated wetlands, which is prohibitively expensive to develop.

Parish President Riley Berthelot said those two factors make it highly unlikely any of the parish’s undeveloped land will be available any time soon to expand the parish’s industrial and commercial base.

“It’s going to take some time for us to catch up,” Berthelot said. “West Baton Rouge still has that hometown/rural feel, and a lot of people don’t want to see anyone else move in.”

But he adds, “And then there are those who want to see more big-box stores. If we were maybe 20 miles away from Baton Rouge, we’d have a lot of those things popping up here.”

Berthelot said it took some heavy convincing seven years ago to get Wal-Mart to open a new Supercenter along La. 1.

“We had to prove to them we had a lot of traffic here,” he said. “They’re doing quite well now and we were finally able to capture a lot of the dollars that were going across the river.”

The need for more commercial development is a conversation driven mainly by the increasing daily traffic woes along La. 1 as folks commute back and forth to work and/or into Baton Rouge for retail shopping, fine dining or evening entertainment.

Traffic will only get worse as residential growth in the parish continues, with new subdivisions popping up along La. 1 in the Addis and Brusly areas.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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