Retailers sign on for Juban Crossing

At least eight retailers have signed on to rent space at the long-delayed Juban Crossing mixed-use development off Interstate 12 in Livingston Parish, court records show.

Stores that have signed leases with Juban Crossing include Rouse’s supermarket, Bed Bath & Beyond, Petsmart, Ulta Salon, Shoe Carnival and Old Navy.

TJX Companies, which operates T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, has authorized a lease as well. The company’s lease does not say which store will occupy the space.

Michael’s, a national arts and crafts chain, also has confirmed it will set up shop in Juban Crossing.

All of those stores signed 10-year leases, except for Rouse’s, which penned a 30-year lease.

Court records in Livingston Parish show four of the stores signed leases after the Livingston Parish Council in August rejected the idea of redirecting more parish road sales tax revenue to the project.

Stephen Keller, Juban Crossing’s developer and a principal at Creekstone Companies, said in August that he expected construction to begin in September, and the first wave of stores to open in October 2014.

Rebecca Rainer, a spokeswoman for Creekstone Companies, said the company expects to make an announcement in the coming weeks about the project’s construction status and its tenants.

Rainer declined to comment about specific tenants until the official announcement is made.

“We continue to be moving forward as we’ve always said,” she said.

In addition, the Juban Crossing Economic Development District’s board of supervisors voted Wednesday to issue about $37 million in revenue bonds for the project. The plan to issue the bonds is expected to go before the state Bond Commission for approval Thursday.

Jim Ryan, a bond attorney for the parish, said he hoped to close on the bonds by Oct. 4.

The Economic Development District on Aug. 19 issued $50 million in sales tax revenue bonds for the project. That same night, the Juban Crossing Community Development District issued $12 million in taxable revenue bonds.

The Economic Development District collects sales taxes within the development area. The Community Development District assesses the land’s property taxes.

The Parish Council serves as the board of supervisors for both districts.

The long-awaited Juban Crossing project traces its roots back to 2005 when Creekstone approached landowners about building a mixed-use development off Juban Road and I-12, between Denham Springs and Walker in Livingston Parish.

Juban Crossing was interrupted in 2007 after the economy took a turn for the worse, Keller has said, but it regained momentum in 2010 when the bonds purchased for the project began generating interest again.

The Livingston Parish Council in 2007 approved dedicating to the project 40 percent of a three-quarter-cent road sales tax collected within the Juban Crossing Community Development District, which encompasses the development’s proposed area, to help finance the project.

The council on Aug. 8 rejected, in a 6-3 vote, a proposal to raise that pledge to 100 percent for road and drainage improvements in the area.

That proposal was submitted to the council June 27, shortly after Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed legislation, for the second year in a row, that would have earmarked a portion of state sales tax money generated within the Juban Crossing district to pay off government borrowing for the project’s infrastructure.

Creekstone determined it needed more money to reach the same level of quality for the project as originally planned in 2007 after the economic downturn, Keller has said.

The council in 2010 also approved a 2-cent sales tax increase within the development to fund its infrastructure. The Livingston Parish Drainage District No. 1 also has dedicated 40 percent of a half-cent drainage sales tax for the development.

Keller, of Creekstone Companies, has said the project will move forward even after the council’s Aug. 8 refusal to increase the parish’s contribution, but will have to be scaled back without it.

Plans for Juban Crossing call for hotels, a movie theater, restaurants and apartment complexes, in addition to the department stores that have already signed leases.

Keller has praised the retailers for sticking with the project through all of its turbulence.

The project’s leaders estimate the development will create about 3,500 jobs and generate about $5.9 million annually in ad valorem taxes alone.

Creekstone and Livingston also have worked out an agreement so that any excess bond revenues from the project will be used to complete road improvements in the parish in or around the development area, Keller has said.