Project allowed to sell bonds

The State Bond Commission on Thursday approved $30 million in local borrowing for the Juban Crossing project in Livingston Parish.

The money generated would be earmarked for the first phase, which includes infrastructure improvements and site work for the major commercial and residential development planned at Juban Road and Interstate 12.

The borrowing is done through the Juban Crossing Community Development District.

Revenue from a 2-cent local sales tax and 40 percent of drainage and road taxes collected within the development will be used to pay off revenue bonds. The Parish Council has backed the plan.

“This does not pledge any state taxes whatever,” Bond Commission director Whit Kling said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation last year that created the Juban Crossing Economic Development District into which the proceeds of 1 percent of state sales tax generated within the district would be deposited, up to a maximum $45 million. Jindal said it would divert dollars from state government.

For all phases of the project some $200 million will be needed. Future phases of the project will include a mixed use development consisting of retail and office space, a movie theater, restaurants and hotels.

Kling told the Bond Commission that the pledge of parish and drainage district taxes will expire before the maturity of the bonds. But bond counsel has advised that they fully anticipate the renewal of the taxes that have been in existence since 2002 in the case of the parish tax and prior to 1986 in the case of the drainage tax, Kling said.

A staff report also said that the special assessment coupled with the economic development taxes will provide “more than enough coverage for the debt service on the proposed bonds.

The bonds would be not to exceed 30 years and at an interest rate not to exceed 10 percent.

The tract has already been cleared for the development located between Denham Springs and Walker.

The project is expected to create about 1,200 temporary construction jobs and an estimated 325 new permanent jobs with an average salary of $35,000.

The Bond Commission analysis said Livingston Parish is expected to continue to grow, reaching 242,780 in 2030 — a 25 percent increase from 2005.

“Currently, residents travel to Baton Rouge, St. Tammany Parish or New Orleans or shop online for retail purchases due to the lack of retail currently available in the area,” the summary said.

“The mixed-use development is anticipated to assist Louisiana and the Parish in capturing those individuals who travel out of the Parish for shopping and those that travel in to visit Louisiana from out-of-state.

“Further, projections estimate online or catalogue sales could decrease due to the availability of retail locations closer to shoppers, which would provide positive benefits to the state and parish.”