A master plan to revitalize Plank Road will be unveiled in November, nearly a year after work first started on the effort.
The plan will be revealed at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 5 in the Valdry Center for Philanthropy at Southern University, said Chris Tyson, head of Build Baton Rouge, the city-parish’s redevelopment agency.
The steering committee guiding the Plank Road redevelopment met for the final time Friday. Matt Rufo, a principal with the New Orleans office of Asakura Robinson, the firm that is developing the plan, said there are five big ideas that have come out of the public meetings on Plank Road, which started in January. They are: Amplify cultural history and neighborhood institutions; sustaining and growing commerce and access to jobs; protect and grow community wealth; build streets and neighborhoods that connect people to opportunities; and strengthen the network of public spaces and ecological infrastructure.
Rufo discussed catalytic projects that can jump-start redevelopment of Plank Road. Some local and regional examples of developments that could be a good fit on the street include transit-oriented developments anchored by public agencies, such as the Harrell Building in New Orleans’ Central City, which is home for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, commercial space and senior housing. Rufo also pointed to the redevelopment along Government Street, which is walkable and made up of low-slung, single-story buildings close to the street.
The 1.5-mile section of Plank Road from Choctaw Drive to Mohican Street is being eyed as a transit-oriented development opportunity corridor. There are large vacant lots fronting the street, historic structures and property in the Build Baton Rouge land bank that can be tapped into for redevelopment, Rufo said.
One means of paying for the redevelopment or supporting services could come from tax-increment financing in the community. This would allow the higher sales and property tax revenue generated by revitalized activity on Plank Road to cover the cost of improvements.