LAFAYETTE — City-parish officials formally marked the opening of the Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown on Thursday.
Construction of the facility on Cypress Street is mostly complete, save for the parking, landscaping and renovations for a last minute addition to the tenant list.
The center will serve as a home for the city’s traffic department, a post office, the municipal bus hub, an Amtrak stop, a new Greyhound terminal and the city’s public access television station, AOC Community Media.
“We hope this becomes one of the gemstones of the downtown area,” said Lafayette Traffic and Transportation Director Tony Tramel at a Thursday ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility.
Traffic department staff and the post office set up shop there last year.
The post office and some of the traffic staff had been in the old Postal Square building, a renovated grocery store on the corner of Jefferson and Cypress streets that was demolished earlier this year.
In its place is additional parking for the Rosa Parks center.
The new studio for AOC at the Rosa Parks facility was an afterthought, and construction recently finished on an addition for AOC that went from idea to finished product in about a year.
AOC is now wrapping up the move from its old home at an aging city-owned building on Lee Avenue.
The new studio was little more than a “scratch” on a piece paper last summer, said AOC Executive Director Ed Bowie.
“Thirteen months later and we’re moving into a brand, spanking new center,” he said.
A future addition to the facility is the new Greyhound bus terminal — the result of a lawsuit that the City-Parish Council voted on Tuesday to settle.
Greyhound had sued over the council’s decision in 2008 to block the bus company’s planned move from its current location on Lee Avenue to a new station on Moss Street.
Residents and business owners along Moss Street had objected to the move, prompting the council to undo a zoning decision that allowed the bus station to locate there, which in turn prompted a lawsuit from the bus company.
As part of the legal settlement, city-parish government has agreed to allow Greyhound to operate out of the Rosa Parks facility for 20 years rent free.
Tramel said the Greyhound station will be in the train depot area of the Rosa Parks facility, but no timeline has set for when it will open.
Before the settlement, city-parish government had negotiated off-and-on for several years to bring Greyhound into the Rosa Parks center, but no deal materialized until recently.
While the Greyhound location was being discussed earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service announced that it might shut down the post office in the Rosa Parks building, one of several post offices being eyed for closure nationwide to cut expenses.
The Postal Service last month changed course and pulled the downtown post office off the list of possible closures, citing the lack of capacity at nearby post offices to take on additional routes should the downtown location close.