Traffic stands in developing west Hammond's way

A concrete slab on a vacant property at the corner of Recile Lane and US Highway 190 could soon become the home of a future Chick-Fil-A. The property that the fast food chain is eyeing is across from Race Trac gas station in Hammond.

With a new Chick-Fil-A at stake, local governments are looking to contribute funds to improve traffic in West Hammond so the area does not miss out on this economic opportunity.

Hammond Chick-Fil-A is proposing to build on property on US 190 near Interstate 55. The developer of the proposed property would be responsible for building a new mountable curb, re-striping and re-paving along the state’s right of way along the boundary and next to the property.

If they agree, City of Hammond and Tangipahoa Parish Government would each contribute $75,000 toward changing the design and curving of the median to improve traffic flow in that area.

“They have been looking to locate on Highway 190 near I-55 for some time now,” said Sam DiVittorio, city councilman for District 4. “I did not become aware of this until demands being made by DOTD were about to result in the project being unable to proceed. I learned after the fact that there was another possible location that failed because of issues between DOTD and the Administration.”

The proposed site for the Chick-Fil-A would be across from Race Trac gas station on US Highway 190, which is in DiVittorio’s district. The company hopes to be open before the end of the year.

Hammond City Council transferred money for this possible endeavor into a fund March 23 while revising this year’s budget. Parish President Robby Miller plans to ask the Tangipahoa Parish Council on Monday to let him, on behalf of Tangipahoa Parish Government, work with the city and Hammond Chick-Fil-A LLC on this project.

“The city is having to contribute $75,000 for traffic improvements,” DiVittorio said. “It will only take about a million dollars of sales for that much to be collected in city and parish sales taxes. After that, the remaining sales taxes collected are simply extra revenue, which if you have seen a Chick-Fil-A line you know will not take long.”

The improvements would also allow two more businesses to locate on the larger development site, which would further increase tax revenue and jobs once developed, he said.

The two sites are to the east of the proposed Chick-Fil-A, he said.

He stressed that the property tax revenue and real estate property taxes will also be increased by the development.

Over $20,000 a year of property tax revenue and real estate property taxes is collected from the current Chick-Fil-A location, across from Hammond Square, he said.

DiVittorio addressed concerns about using city funds to improve a state highway. He said the state is not doing it in a timely manner, if ever.

“So the question of whether we make the investment that increases our sales tax revenue, increases our property tax revenue, brings jobs to the city, and brings a product people want or do we forgo that revenue? It seems like simple math to me,” he said.

“Local residents will have an easier access to Chick-Fil-A, potentially two more businesses next door on the west side of Hammond District 4 and more tax revenue and hopefully the traffic improvements that are being made will help all local residents traveling on Highway 190 between I-55 and Highway 51, whether they are going to Chick-Fil-A or not,” he added.

The developer did not want to comment at this time, DiVittorio said.

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