May 29, 2013 10:35 North Lafayette’s Couret Farms development under construction North Lafayette’s Couret Farms development under construction RICHARD BURGESS| Acadiana bureau May 29, 2013 Comments Couret Farms Development PlanLAFAYETTE — The first homes are now going up in a River Ranch-style development on roughly 125 acres in north Lafayette, and residents are expected to begin settling in there this fall. Couret Farms, developed by the same team behind River Ranch in Lafayette and Sugar Mill Pond in Youngsville, is introducing an idea that has not been seen north of Interstate 10 in Lafayette Parish. The plan is to build a dense, walkable community with parks, ponds, an integrated commercial area and housing that ranges from apartments to estate homes. The concept, known as a “traditional neighborhood development,” seems to have attracted attention. Couret Farms has sold 19 lots since sales began last month, and more are under contract, said Prescott Bailey, an associate developer on the project. “The reaction has been stronger than we expected,” he said. Plans for the development call for 621 housing units — a mix of various home sizes and apartments — and 115,786 square feet of commercial space. The Lafayette City-Parish Planning Commission approved the general layout for Couret Farms earlier this month. Bailey said there are 72 lots in the first phase now under construction, with home prices ranging from $169,000 to around $300,000. Engineering work has begun on the second phase, which is expected to include 108 home sites and some of the commercial space, Bailey said. The entire 125-acre development could be built out in five to six years, he said. Still undetermined is what businesses will locate in the commercial area of the development. “We are having lots of conversations about potential tenants or buyers,” said architect and community planner Steve Oubre, who designed River Ranch and is also working on Couret Farms. Oubre said he envisions a mix of retail shops, restaurants and offices, possibly a bank and a hotel. The early focus for the commercial area will be on restaurants, he said. “We would like to see it driven by food service,” Oubre said. There also have been discussions about the possibility of a school, and there is particular interest in a charter school, he said. Lafayette Parish’s other two traditional neighborhood developments, Sugar Mill Pond and River Ranch, both have attracted private schools. Even residents who are not looking for a new home are excited about the prospects of new restaurants and shops in the area, said Jan Smith, executive director of the Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation. “I know that there is a buzz in the community,” Swift said. “I think people realize it is going to be the place to be.” Swift also expects home sales to be brisk. “There’s really a market for it. It’s affordable, and it’s nice,” she said. Couret Farms is on the site of a similar planned community proposed by a different group of developers that was scrapped seven years ago because of financing problems.