Tim Skinner has been a business owner in Downtown Lafayette for almost 30 years.
While he has made an investment in the area, Skinner said he is thrilled to see other taking a vested interest as well.
“This is the first big project that we see coming that will enhance east of Main,” Skinner said. “When the streets are improved and sidewalks are improved, the more accessible they are it’ll encourage people to invest money in new properties and renovating older properties. ”
This will make the area more inviting and safer for those who want to venture downtown.
“It’s going to improve lighting, anywhere from trip hazards to impressions that it’s a safer place to walk,” Skinner said. “This is one of the main areas for downtown and we’ll finally have the sidewalks to improve it.”
Anita Begnaud, CEO of Downtown Development Authority, has worked on this project since 2012. She said, while they are well on their way to making this dream a reality, there are still many moving parts.
Divided into four phases, the first phase from the corner of Main by St. John’s Cathedral to the courthouse.
“The cathedral, right behind you, brings thousands of people to downtown every week to attend church,” Begnaud said. “We want people to keep their cars in the parking lot of the church and walk down to lunch on a Sunday. Right now, the environment doesn’t create desire to do so. If we can make this fill more like a part of downtown, walkable, shade, good lighting, hopefully they’ll feel more comfortable going into the CBD of the district and supporting the local business when they’re here attending church. Just really incorporating this area more into where more of the restaurants and retail are as well.”
Not only will you see the sidewalks become more walkable, the area inviting, but they will finally be ADA compliant.
“So, where we’re standing right now is some of the challenging sidewalk infrastructure in Downtown because of the carriage curbs that exist here,” Begnaud said. “From an ADA compliant standpoint this is not great sidewalk infrastructure. So, you will see the sidewalk sloping down and widening.”
Begnaud hopes, once all is complete, these new sidewalks will help to pull the downtown area together, connected by paths easier to navigate.
Construction could start at the end of the year, but that is all dependent on what they find once the process is started.
The design phase is happening right now and could take a few months to complete.