The Advocate

DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Economic Development Corp. officials said Wednesday they hope an upcoming meeting with the landowners of 17,000 acres on the west bank of the parish will lead to a mixed-use development there one day.

Over the last two years, 75 percent of the more than 100 landowners have signed letters of intent indicating their interest in working with any future developers of what would be called the Riverplex MegaPark, the potential home of heavy, medium and light industrial uses, as well as limited commercial and residential uses.

The property is 17,000 acres of contiguous, undeveloped land, with more than 9 miles of Mississippi River frontage.

A dock and rail feasibility study funded by the AEDC, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Louisiana Economic Development Department also has been completed.

The next step would be a massive marketing campaign, but it’s time to regroup with landowners, AEDC officials said at their second-quarter board meeting Wednesday.

The letters of intent a majority of the landowners signed earlier “wasn’t a stringent document, but indicated their interest in working with us,” said Dwight Poirrier, the chairman of the AEDC board.

Most of those documents have expired, he said.

“You don’t have anything unless you get the land locked down,” Poirrier said.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a more binding agreement” from landowners, with more information on per-acre prices they’d consider, said Kate MacArthur, president and CEO of the AEDC.

Poirrier said after the meeting with landowners, scheduled for July 10, the AEDC will have a better idea of whether the pursuit of a Riverplex Mega-Park on the west bank of the parish “is a viable use of our resources and our partners’ resources.”

Also at the board meeting Wednesday, MacArthur said the AEDC, which works to promote and assist business development in the parish, is working with several active projects looking to come to Ascension Parish.

They include an approximately $500 million phase III of a production facility in Geismar; a new $1 million project by an existing major employer in Geismar and a potential $100 million additional unit for a current Geismar manufacturer.