For the past six decades subdivision development in St. Tammany Parish has focused on the end of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and the north end of Interstate 10 coming into Slidell. Over the years subdivision builders have stretched out throughout Mandeville and on over into the area northwest Madisonville, as well as all along U.S. 190 up to and beyond Covington.
Over in Slidell, the subdivisions were built along the I-10 corridor, branched eastward to the edge of the Pearl River Swamp, and westward over to Northshore Blvd. and the airport.
Central St. Tammany
But the middle of St. Tammany, the area north of Lacombe, has been relatively quiet despite numerous attempts to turn it into a central hub of commerce, healthcare, and government agencies. Until now...
The Louisiana Heart Hospital was an early effort. It didn't make it, and now several other healthcare providers have taken over the building and are doing various medical specialty things.
Lakeshore High School was another step in the direction of the center of St. Tammany.
The parish animal services headquarters is on Hwy. 36 midway between Pearl River and Abita Springs, pretty much out there all by itself. The Social Security Administration has had an office out there for some time.
The center of St. Tammany has one small community named, appropriately, St. Tammany, and it's not that well populated, with the main attraction being a race track known as the La. 36 Speedway.
I remember in the late 1960's plans being announced for Hemisphere Land, a giant destination theme park in the middle of St. Tammany Parish. Nothing came of it. Earlier in the 1960's, there was talk of Walt Disney building a large new theme park in St. Tammany Parish, something to be called Disney World. They decided to build it somewhere else.
There were also studies showing that central STP was the best place for a huge regional airport. That also failed to materialize.
A New Development
Tamanend is a new development that is now being developed by Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest private owners of timberlands. It is located on Hwy. 434 north of Lacombe, just past the St. Tammany Parish Coroners building. From the looks of its construction footprint and public relations efforts, it might capture the attention of newcomers as well as retirees, what with the hospital facilities so close down the road.
Tamanend is billed as unique, the first comprehensive mixed-use community in St. Tammany Parish. "We knew the location presented us with the opportunity to balance Southern traditions and styles with a modern approach to accessibility and well-being," their website says, noting that the design emphasizes a true live, work and play environment.
There is an Innovation District which is already home to Northshore Technical Community College’s main campus and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. Future proposed elements include a STEM high school. Tamanend will also offer over 1,300 residences, business district and innovation district.
The Innovation District includes the site of the future St. Tammany Parish Emergency Operations Center. The parish's 991 Communications Center is already nearby, and the Emergency Operations Center, now located in the old courthouse building in Covington, may soon follow since the parish is trying to sell the building.
Tamanend also boasts two Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Certified Sites for business and industry. So the plans are deep, wide, and all-encompassing.
The developer promises a deep respect for the natural setting. "The entire community has been planned to maximize the woodlands and conservation areas," their website says. Lacombe Bayou runs parallel to La. 434 on the western side, while Tamanend is located on the eastern side of La. 434.
The plans for a community central business area are quite extensive.
Weyerhauser started in 1900 over in Washington State and over the years has been harvesting forests for a variety of purposes: paper and lumber mostly. It has been recognized for developing sustainable forest technologies as well as its clean up and timber salvage efforts after forest fires, wind storms, and even when the Mt. St. Helens volcano blew its top and wiped out all the surrounding forests.
Forest replanting and timberland management is big business and big science as well, and the history of St. Tammany Parish documents that timber cutting and lumber milling has always been a part of the economy.
Part of that local lumber went into building ships at Madisonville and other shipyards, part of that lumber went into building schools, stores and other structures throughout the parish. Most of that lumber was shipped to New Orleans as well as other locations around the world.
So it is interesting to see one of the world's largest timberland companies venturing into a sizeable land development project in central St. Tammany. It does seem to be using its vast commercial and public relations reach to spread the word telling of the attractive way of life and beauty of St. Tammany Parish.
And being located in the middle of St. Tammany high ground might be a better idea than trying to deal with the drainage challenges of building subdivisions near Slidell or Madisonville.
The real estate projects of Weyerhaeuser have expanded it from a timber harvesting and processing company to a land improvement and development company as well. Being the largest landowner in the state of Louisiana, it already owns enough land to make that happen, meaning it can put the bulk of its investment into infrastructure and amenities. It'll be good to watch how it goes, as there is a lot of land in central St. Tammany Parish and most of it is accessible by Interstate 12.
CLICK HERE for the Tamanend website.
CLICK HERE for aerial video of the Tamanend Industrial portion.
CLICK HERE for the blog, an interesting series of commentaries of life in St. Tammany.
CLICK HERE for a look at Madisonville on the Tamanend blog.
CLICK HERE for the Tamanend Facebook Page