Lafayette soon will see a plan to revitalize and redevelop the Oil Center.
"The plan’s done, and we will be doing a formal release soon," said Geoff Dyer, CEO of Downtown Development.
Dyer’s been working with the group to create the plan. The first recommendation is to establish a recognized advocate for the Oil Center and the plan, he said. Currently, nobody’s advocating for the Oil Center, and the neighborhood needs some organization to lobby for government funds, apply for grants, and present the plan to developers who might be interested, he said.
"The plan will send a signal to the development industry, that we’re wanting to develop this area," he said. "If developers do express interest, are you in a reactionary or proactive position? Do you have a vision? The plan both attracts development and sends a signal as to what kind of vision you have for the area."
The neighborhood, which is roughly bordered by South College, Pinhook, St. Mary and Girard Park Drive, includes the Lafayette General Medical Center, shops, restaurants, business offices and other commercial establishments. There is limited residential property, mostly on the Girard Park Drive area.
The long-term vision for the area would build upon that, but with an eye more toward creating a stronger residential component. A big player in the future is LGMC, he said.
"The talent pool they’re trying to attract, those people often want urban, walkable places," Dyer said. "They want to live close to where they work and shop."
That means looking at growth and redevelopment in terms of urban blocks, he said.
The revitalization will likely start with Coolidge Street, the "main drag" of the neighborhood, and might look like the Jefferson Street project looked, he said. When the downtown revitalization started, Jefferson Street was the first target, because it was the main street and improvements there were expected to be a catalyst for surrounding revitalization and development.
Like the Jefferson Street project, the Coolidge Street project could be accomplished with public funds, which in turn would attract private investment, Dyer said.
He said the plan, once released, will be posted online for locals to review. We’ll update this story as soon as it is.