With Wal-Mart closing its doors, the building could soon be added to the list of vacant buildings in North Lafayette.
In the past few years, several businesses like Winn-Dixie, Payless and even some Dollar stores have left the north side.
While big box stores are harder to fill with new businesses, even smaller stores are being left vacant.
“What I would hate to do is simplify it to just one thing. I think it’s bigger than that. As you know, so many big box facilities have been impacted. [Wal-Mart] is not the first, we can go way, way back to Del Champs where the Church of Philadelphia now exists,” said Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux who represents the area.
He said various factors go into why it’s difficult to bring businesses to his district, including public safety, educational opportunities and house hold incomes.
“It’s not going to be the end of it if we don’t do anything differently. And that’s what I mean when I say incentivize development, make development easier in areas where drawing people has become a challenge, making communities safer, etc,” he said.
Those incentives to keep businesses in place do not currently exist in the north side. While there’s several factors that go into retaining and attracting new businesses, people who live and work in the north side of town say they hope to see something change soon.
“We have people who walk to our stores, we have people that take the bus to our stores. Not many people on this side have cars or vehicles to get around. With all this being closed down, it’s going to be kind of hard. People are losing their jobs, basically their homes too and it’s sad,” said Shante Fontenot who works in North Lafayette.
“It’s going to get harder by them closing all the businesses down and that’s like businesses that are closer to us and more convenient for us. If they close all the stores, what are we going to have? Nothing,” said concerned resident Angel Andrus.
Boudreaux said this has been an issue and a balance is needed in order to keep stores open.
“We have to improve our appeal to those national developers, those companies that are coming in with the big-numbered jobs and the opportunities. But at the same time, find a way to support the ‘mom and pop,’ locally-owned-and-operated shops,” he said.
LCG also has a list of project improvements for the I-49 corridor which runs through the area. While the goal of the Evangeline Corridor Initiative isn’t to attract new shops but rather to spruce up the area, adding sidewalks and landscape, Boudreaux said any improvements can indirectly help.