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University Avenue construction already helping to bring in business

Brakaylon Simmons and Who Dat owner, Karen Faye Victor
Posted at 10:31 AM, Jun 13, 2024

LAFAYETTE, La. — The University Revitalization Project is underway with a goal of revamping the avenue through beautification and accessibility.

With all the new additions, one local business in the neighborhood says they already are seeing the benefits from the construction.

Karen Faye Victor has been cooking for more than 20 years; she sold plate lunches out of her home before opening up her restaurant "Who Dat Kitchen."

It's in a building located right on University Avenue, and opened the same month that construction started back in February.

According to Victor, business has been growing with the influx of hungry construction workers and neighbors checking out the ongoing revitalizations.

"A lot of them they come in and out, they call on the phone all day long all night long seeing what time we open and what time we close and it's been great," Victor says.

The Lafayette Consolidated Government project is divided into three phases, with planned drainage improvements, wheelchair ramps, crosswalks with lights, landscaping and sidewalk installations. These new additions aim to bring not only bring a fresh look to the avenue but to help the community have easier access to local businesses.

Victor's family member, Brakaylon Simmons, frequently visits the Who Dat and is excited for what the new additions to the avenue will bring to her family's restaurant.

"I feel like the sidewalk will definitely help with foot traffic because we are in a little neighborhood and people who live really close and don’t have a car, so it's more people coming in and out," said Simmons. "Business is already going good and now people are coming in, she’s getting more customers every day. 7 days a week, we just feel like all of this construction work and this new place, everything is coming together so when it finishes, we will just be whole."

KATC stopped by the construction office to speak with Tanner Lee Huffman, Project Manager/Superintendent for the revitalization, who says construction is moving along and they are nearing completion of the first part of phase one.

Huffman tells KATC once the improvements are done, it will mean more attention and dollars for the avenue.

"It's going add more people walking down the road who will be looking at different businesses, it's going to help the community I believe," he says.

The University Revitalization Project is set to be completed by 2026.

If you're interested in visiting "Who Dat Kitchen", you can find them at 1404 N University Ave, Lafayette, LA 70506.