Covering Louisiana

Jun 16, 2013 1:49 PM by katc

Upgrades proposed for downtown Baton Rouge

The Downtown Development District has unveiled a wave of projects for the area, including more green space, a bike path and Mississippi River levee improvements.

Total cost for the first phase of the four proposed projects is about $900,000, which would come from a dedicated state sales tax rebates.

The Advocate reported the funding is included in Mayor-President Kip Holden's $4.2 million budget supplement, which will go before Metro Council on Wednesday.

Some projects are still in their planning and engineering phases.

Among them is extending the levee bike path a half mile from Florida Street to Hollywood Casino. The path would connect to the upcoming IBM block project and a $600 million River Park project by developer Pete Clements near the casino.

The planning and engineering costs for the half-mile extension total $150,000.

Once complete, the bike path would stretch from the casino to Farr Park off River Road. Other plans are in the works to eventually extend the bike path from Farr Park to L'Auberge Baton Rouge casino and hotel.

DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer said designers also will study the possibility of adding an elevated boardwalk.

In recent years, the downtown area has been under almost continuous construction.

The biggest of the new projects is planned for City Hall Plaza, the courtyard behind City Hall next to Repentance Park and Galvez Plaza. Both parks include green space and are used for concerts and festivals, including Live After Five, Earth Day and Baton Rouge Blues Fest.

The courtyard, with its outdated, massive concrete planters, would be torn up and replaced with a lawn connecting Repentance Park to Galvez Plaza. The construction also would double the space for people watching performances at the Galvez Plaza Stage.

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