A neglected area of Lafayette is about to see new life.
Demolition on the Less Pay Motel at Four Corners and renovation of the old Coca-Cola Bottling building next door are set to being soon. New Orleans based developers HRI Communities plans to transform the area into forty lofts with a leasing preference towards artists.
Last month, the Lafayette City Council approved a $1.5 million loan for the project and the developer has 45 years to pay the money back.
For much of Monday, crews were hard at work moving out of the old Coca-Cola building on Cameron Street. Over the years, the building has been used for a variety of things, but most recently as a warehouse.
Greg Dugan is the former building owner. He said over the years a number of people have approached him about buying the property, but he waited until he found the right fit.
"There's a lot of potential in the area and the people of the area are excited. We've had people from the area help us clear out just because they're so happy that it's happening and we couldn't be happier," Dugan said.
Before the deal closed, Dugan and his family visited one of HRI's projects in New Orleans.
"It was a very, very similar project to this and it just turned the neighborhood around. We're hoping that's what's going to happen here," Dugan said.
Lafayette City Councilman Pat Lewis said, "They want to do something again to make this area the hope the people have been asking for and the quality of life they've been wanting."
This project is happening because of government help. The area is designated as an opportunity zone. In addition to the loan from the city of Lafayette, the Acadiana Planning Commission has committed $500,000.
"There's a lot of risk to do something like this," said Acadiana Planning Commission CEO Monique Boulet. "So, to expect the private sector to do this by themselves is not realistic. There's environmental issues, there's property value issues. We're really excited to work with HRI."
Boulet said the first investment is always hard, but if done right and successful, it can ignite more investment and growth.
"Four Corners was the place to be and we want this area to become that place again," Councilman Lewis said.
This week we should see construction crews begin work on some of the environmental issues at the Less Pay Motel and then demolition will begin next week.
The Bottle Art Lofts will provide 40 residential units in phase one. There will be community spaces and amenities, including a computer center, fitness studio, shared art studio, art gallery, picnic area and community garden space.
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