The Downtown Development District on Tuesday chose the less ambitious of two expansion plans it was considering, one that would take in the industrial area around Capitol Lake and the area east of Interstate 110 and Spanish Town.
The move, if approved by the city-parish, the state Legislature and a vote by property owners in the affected area, would grow the overlay district significantly.
“That’s 120 acres, and that’s a great opportunity for us to move forward,” said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District.
The move to the north and east would capture largely vacant inner-city land that has long been eyed as in need of redevelopment opportunities, particularly when thinking about adding housing to downtown.
“For the future growth of downtown, we need residential (development),” Rhorer remarked.
More people living in the area could then translate to the growth of retail, entertainment and other forms of commercial activity for Baton Rouge’s downtown, he added. Also part of the district’s strategic development plan is a “residential market analysis” to serve as a tool to developers eyeing the area.
The area north of Capitol Lake is also prime for a number of commercial or other uses because of its existing infrastructure.
“You have rail spurs in there. You have access to the interstate. So I think it could be employment-based, but there’s absolutely no reason you can’t have some residential around there as well,” Rhorer said.
The DDD’s board of commissioners voted unanimously on the so-called Option 1 expansion over another that would have included property to the south along Nicholson Drive. The process, if ultimately successful, will likely take a few years.
“This is all kind of a ‘next step.’ It’s not by any means a done deal,” Rhorer said.