HARAHAN, La. -- Crews recently started removing debris and dead branches from the ditch in front of the old Colonial Country Club on Jefferson Highway in Harahan.
Residents took that as a sign that construction on the much-talked about retail development on the first 15 acres of the 88 acre site was about to begin.
"Everybody was wondering what's going on because there's been some cleaning up on Jefferson Highway across the front because it been so overgrown," said Cindy Murray, whose backyard backs up to the old golf course.
Murray is also one of two Harahan City Council members who voted against the project. She said as far as she knows, the retail project is at a standstill.
Murray wonders why there was such a rush to change the zoning on the property to commercial before the end of last year.
"They had to get it done," Murray said. "They had to get it done because they were getting ready, they had the plans, they had the people, we're ready to go. It is seven, eight months later, nothing."
Businessman John Georges and his partner Wayne Ducote now own the property. The old club house is up for lease.
Mayor Vinnie Mosca, who backs the project, said he expects dirt will be turning on the site by early next year.
"There's progress being made, as slow as it is," Mosca said. "I've talked to the developers who have indicated they're negotiating with a food store, a drug store, a restaurant and a bank."
"I have not heard any solid leads beating a path for that," said Murray. "Absolutely not."
Mosca is confident the project will come to fruition.
"I'd like it to begin as soon as possible because we could use the tax dollars," said Mosca.
The Harahan City Council is trying to hammer out a development agreement with Georges' company, the J.W. Colonial Group. It would cover such things as hours of operation for construction crews, what type of lighting can be used and how trash and debris would be disposed. That agreement must be in place before construction can begin.
Council members are expected to get an update on the status of that agreement at their Thursday meeting.