Iberia

Mar 12, 2013 7:03 PM by Chris Welty

New Iberia Makes CNN's America's Best Small Town Comeback List

Historic Downtown New Iberia is receiving national publicity after being named one of CNN's America's Best Small Town Comebacks.

The hustle and bustle of Downtown New Iberia is welcomed. In the early 80s, it was a different scene. The area lost many businesses after the oil bust.

Books Along the Teche has been open on Main Street for nearly 24 years. Howard Kingston remembers how difficult it was when he and his wife first opened their store.

"In this block, we were two doors down and that building was empty for a number of years and this building was empty for a number of years," said Kingston.

As early as 1993, many buildings along Main Street remained boarded up and vacant.

"There was a total of at least twelve businesses right in the central downtown area boarded. Those that were vacant were neglected and in dire need of maintenance," said Jane Braud, New Iberia's Main Street Program Director.

In the early 90's the Main Street Program was created and investors spent millions of dollars revitalizing. The reason CNN gave New Iberia the title is for its new look featuring hot cajun restaurants and rows of new shops.

"it's precious. it's a cute little town and it's comfortable," said New Iberia resident Maggie Simon.

"To get the message out to others across the country about what we know to be true, that this is a great place to live, raise your family and enjoy life, there's no value you can place on that publicity," said Braud.

The Historic District has ordinances to preserve the atmosphere of Main Street. Anyone looking to renovate or build must submit plans to the historic district and get approval before a permit is issued.

The district hopes it'll continue thriving in the next twenty years.

In 2012, New Iberia's Main Street made CNN's list of "12 timely reasons to hit the United States in 2012".

For a list of CNN's America's Best Small Town Comebacks click here.

Chris Welty
cwelty@katctv.com

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