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DENHAM SPRINGS, LA-A Louisiana Supreme Court decision has cleared the way for the long-awaited development of a 150,000-sf Bass Pro Shops on 26 acres in Livingston Parish. The $60-million store will anchor another 200,000 sf of retail development.

A Bass Pro spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the project is now on the “fast track” although a groundbreaking date has yet to be released. According to previous published reports, the store was set to open in fourth quarter 2007 at the intersection of Interstate 12 and Range Avenue.

With the court decision now made, John Ware, executive director with the Livingston Economic Development Council, believes Bass Pro’s construction could start in Q1 2007. The project was announced in 2003, triggering a 2.5-year legal battle over tax increment financing after voters approved the plan. The most recent challenge was overturned because it wasn’t filed in time for bond validation. That, in turn, paved the way for the Louisiana Supreme Court’s 5-2 vote to strike down a request to rehear the legal challenge over the TIF package.

“We’re happy with the court case and we’re moving forward on the paperwork to get the bonds issued so the project can be built,” Ware tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re shooting for development as quickly as we can. All the financial institutions are aligning themselves to get it done as quickly as possible too.”

The Bass Pro store will be supported by a 75-acre, 200,000-sf project ticketed to break ground in early 2007 as well. The Springfield, MO-based Bass Pro Shops will sign a long-term lease to fly its flag in the as-yet unnamed, mixed-use development. Infrastructure work will get under way soon on the development site, which is mainly timberland with no roads and little in the way of utilities.

Ware says that, between court challenges and hurricanes, getting the Bass Pro Shop from concept to definite completion has been a challenge. “This was a typical economic development project where Murphy’s Law was definitely involved from Day One,” he adds.

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