Downtown Development Authority makes push to fill vacant buildin - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Downtown Development Authority makes push to fill vacant buildings

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Lafayette, LA -

In Lafayette, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) directors are starting the new year by making a big push to fill the empty spaces along Jefferson St.

DDA CEO Geoff Dyer said they're looking for opportunities in residential development, retail stores and restaurants to add to the ever-changing area.

"Got Rock N Bowl that's well under construction. It's got a steel structure up at the site of the old Whitney Bank. Last year, we had Dat Dog who put a huge investment into their building at Cypress and Jefferson," said Dyer.

Dat Dog Manager and Local Store Marketer Michelle Champagne said the hot dog joint is proud to be one of Jefferson Street's newest tenants.

"From what I've heard from people who used to work in this building, they come back and they're just like, 'Wow! I never expected this.' They're always just completely blown away by it. That's really the coolest part. They saw this building that was really just a shell of what it is now," said Champagne. 

But peppered in between all the progress are some major vacancies.

"If you drive down Jefferson Street, you'll see a lot of 'For Lease' signs," said Dyer.

Despite the great location, Dyer said buildings like the ones that are currently available for lease can be more difficult to rent out because of their larger floor plans--at several thousand square feet apiece. But he said they are a good fit for housing, and residential development is good for downtown.

"Our number one priority is, and continues to be, bringing residential downtown. It is our Achilles heel as a region. We've got 66-hundred employees. We've got schools, restaurants and churches. We have all the ingredients. It's kind of like baking a bread without the flour. The flour is the residents and we need them, and they want to be here," said Dyer.

And there's always room for more shopping and dining options. Attracting businesses like these will be a major part of DDA's main street initiative throughout 2018.

"I think that downtown has huge opportunities. Downtowns are where it's going to be nationwide, wherever you are," said Dyer.

"It's been a really positive thing to see them try to bring all this stuff back to the community and the willingness to actually pump some vibrancy into it," said Champagne.

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