Option ends on Ascension site

The Ascension Economic Development Corp.’s option to buy the 987-acre Pointe Sunshine megasite near Donaldsonville lapsed Monday.

But the owners of the site said it shouldn’t affect the ongoing efforts to lure a substantial economic development project to the property.

“It shouldn’t have any impact,” said Charles Thibaut, whose family business, Crawford & Thibaut Inc., owns the land.

The AEDC has held a purchase option on the site since October 2007.

The option fixed the land purchase price for an industrial developer, with the AEDC acting as a conduit for the sale. When the option was first developed, the sale price of the property was $32 million, but the price would be reduced if the buyer purchased all of the stock of Crawford & Thibaut.

Over the years, Louisiana’s economic development department and the AEDC have marketed the site to companies with the potential to generate hundreds of jobs and make hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment.

Targets include the petrochemical and energy sectors that are predominant parts of the Ascension Parish economy. The property is a deepwater port and there have been studies about the feasibility of bringing rail access to the site.

“The land is not going anywhere,” said Mike Eades, chief executive officer and president of the AEDC. “We just don’t have an agreement anymore.”

Eades and Thibaut said if a potential industrial tenant would arise, a deal could be hammered out quickly to sell the Pointe Sunshine property.

“And there’s still a possibility the option could be picked up,” Thibaut said.

Thibaut said it was a “business decision” that led the AEDC not to renew the option.

“I have nothing but admiration for the way the AEDC has been handling their business and seeking out businesses for the parish,” he said.

“I have complete respect for Mr. Eades and Dwight Poirrier,” who is a lawyer and member of the AEDC board of directors.