When it comes to building a better TND, a family of engineers hope to accomplish what some of the area’s most seasoned developers have been unable to do after more than a decade of trying, writes Business Report in the current issue.
Seaside Beach on the Florida Panhandle’s Highway 30A is a popular vacation destination for many Baton Rouge residents. For 30 years, it has been one of the hottest resorts on the Gulf Coast because it’s a pristine example of a Traditional Neighborhood Development, or TND—a New Urbanist-inspired, pedestrian-friendly community where you can live, work and play in a storybook setting.
Now, a local family—Rhaoul Guillaume Sr. and his sons, Rhaoul Jr. and Randy—is trying to bring its own version of Seaside to Baton Rouge with Pointe Marie, a development under construction on a 120-acre tract off River Road, about a quarter mile upriver from L’Auberge Casino. Pointe Marie was designed by Seaside’s architects and is being developed with help from Seaside consultants.
The Guillaumes promise Pointe Marie will have the look and feel of Seaside, but at more modest Baton Rouge prices.
“We did all sorts of studies after we bought this property—multifamily, hotel, RV, commercial, environmental,” says Guillaume Sr., who acquired the site in 2011 for $4.1 million. “Then, we started looking at Seaside and thought, why can’t we do that here but do it Louisiana style?”
Pointe Marie already has several amenities under construction that will closely resemble structures in Seaside. But developing a Baton Rouge version of Seaside won’t be easy and it likely won’t happen quickly.
As some of the area’s most seasoned developers will tell you, they’ve been working for years on TNDs and similar developments called PUDs, or planned unit developments. After more than a decade of trying, some still don’t have any commercial tenants. None comes close to approximating a Seaside or River Ranch, the phenomenally successful Lafayette TND.
Can the Guillaumes succeed where others have struggled? Perhaps. But developing a TND is a long, hard process. No matter how good the concept or the consultants, it takes a lot of upfront capital, the right location and the wherewithal to wait—sometimes years—for deals to come together.
“It’s very difficult for TNDs to gain the momentum they need and the mix of property uses, and to get them all in the right proportions to make them work,” says appraiser Tom Cook of Cook, Moore and Associates. “It took River Ranch in Lafayette forever to catch on. With a TND, it’s a chicken and egg kind of thing, and you have to have deep pockets and a lot of patience.”