Riverfront’s first phase nearly complete

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 17, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Construction is &uot;basically complete&uot;&160;on the first phase of the Vidalia Landing riverfront development, Riverfront Authority Chairman Sidney Murray Jr. said Friday.

Pickett Industries has built the part of the development’s riverwalk that lies north of the bridge, has built a new boat ramp to the Mississippi River and widened and curved a street to the site.

&uot;The town is working on the sewer and water connections to the site now,&uot;&160;said Murray, also a former mayor of the town.

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Now that the $1.66 million Phase 1A is coming to a close, Camo Construction is is set to begin Phase 1B immediately. That phase will include paving a parking lot for the development, installing lighting and installing a new Mississippi River gauge, Murray added. Meanwhile, the State Bond Commission will meet next week to give final approval for $130,000 in capital outlay money the Louisiana Legislature recently approved for the project. That money would be received during this fiscal year. After more planning is done on the project’s final phases, town officials could go back to the Bond Commission to get approval for the other $1.45 million, Rep. Bryant Hammett (D-Ferriday) has said.

&uot;With that (money), we could proceed with Phase 2, which would include an amphitheater, more of the riverwalk, a fountain plaza and structures to provide shade,&uot;&160;Murray said. &uot;The architect is working on cost estimates now.&uot;

When it is completed, the $45 million development could include a visitors center, stores, restaurants, an amphitheater, condominiums, recreational fields and other attractions. A group of doctors is working on plans to build an outpatient surgical center there. &uot;We have two active applicants for restaurants and two companies talking about hotels, but no one we can name just yet,&uot;&160;Murray said.

An RV park south of the Mississippi River bridge should be ready for business by October’s Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

Officials have said the development, which has been in the works since 1992, could attract tourists and bring 400 jobs to a parish with double-digit unemployment.