Retail might follow rooftops, but it also follows tax incentives for developers. Livingston Parish has both.
The parish is home to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and Juban Crossing, two significant developments that leverage tax increment financing, or TIFs. The mechanism entices developers with significant tax breaks to cover infrastructure and development costs, allowing the local government to impose an additional sales tax in a designated district without voter approval.
“Without TIF, we wouldn’t have been able to do Juban Crossing,” says developer Steve Keller, whose 550,000-square-foot, open-air shopping center generated $9.6 million in sales tax revenue for the parish last April. “It’s worked out great for us.”
It does appear the TIF strategy is working, with some retailers popping up around Juban Crossing and many coming to the area around Bass Pro, which is expected to pay off its 30-year bonds in less than half the time amortized.
But the 2016 flood put a temporary damper on retail growth. Juban Crossing still has some empty storefronts, like the Kohl’s that left after the flood, though activity has picked up recently as outparcels attract more tenants. Keller says the development is about 50% complete, with plans underway to add another 100,000 square feet of retail before building 500 homes and 450 apartment units.
Both developments are often heralded as examples of what’s possible for the parish’s retail footprint, which is moving into the bedroom community at a much slower clip than its population is growing.
Without the luxury of river access—which neighboring Ascension Parish uses to entice industry—Livingston is chasing retail in an effort to generate the revenue it needs to accommodate a booming population and spur additional growth.