Major redevelopment is slated for Lafayette’s Oil Center, but it could be years or even decades before we see any change.
A strategic plan is in place to zone the area for mixed use. This means, you would see multilevel buildings with businesses on the ground level and residents living above.
Holly Cure owns Antoni’s Italian Cafe in the Oil Center. The restaurant has been open along Coolidge Drive for more than 20 years.
“We really do have a robust business,” said Cure. “We’ve seen business increase over the years.”
Cure has seen the Oil Center redevelopment plans. Right now, she’s cautiously optimistic for the future.
“I’m hopeful for some updating, but at the same time, I’m skeptical about the plan as it is,” Cure said.
She’s worried about accessibility for her guests and the overall look of the area.
“I like the idea that we have lower level buildings. It just adds to the quaintness.”
Geoff Dyer, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority says change is necessary. He believes the commercial center has lacked a clear strategic vision to capitalize on opportunity.
“The oil economy of the past is of the past. What people are looking for is walkable environments, more mixed us environments,” Dyer said.
The goal is to make the Oil Center more walkable and increase business in the evenings. On-street parking could be added along Coolidge Drive and the travel lanes made smaller to reduce the speed of drivers.
“We have a lot of pent up demand,” Dyer said. “It is inevitable that we will start seeing this type of development in our core.”
Dyer says the Oil Center has good bones and the plan is to work with existing businesses.
“The idea is that you can go block-by-block instead of having to close the entire street down which would have a negative effect on business.”