"She said, 'Do you know anything about them putting up a fence?'" Kight says. "It was out of the blue. I was surprised, but not much more than that because I had no recourse. I had been expecting it for a while."
Grant Street Dancehall has never owned or leased the parking lots surrounding the club, but has always operated with a tacit agreement that allowed its customers free access to the lots. Kight, who is in his third year as owner of Grant Street Dancehall, says he tried in the past to buy or lease the lot in front of his building from its owner, New Orleans real estate firm Historic Restoration Inc.
"We had numerous phone calls," says Kight. "Prices were discussed, but there was no response from them whether that was acceptable or not. The negotiation process never started."
Instead, HRI leased the lot to Guamas Restaurant, and Kight's hands were tied when security officers hired by Guamas began charging customers $5 to park in the lot in front of Grant Street. In addition, two adjacent lots where Grant Street customers traditionally park have been leased by 307 Downtown, which is also charging $5 parking fees.
"The community was taken aback by it," Kight says. "And there were a lot of people that had misconceptions about it. People still have misconceptions about it. They thought I was doing it."
For Kight, the parking situation is the latest in a series of challenges with his downtown venue that have him actively seeking new locations for the legendary live-music nightclub. "There are certainly issues for me to consider," he says. "Everything from parking, relationship with the landlord ... Everything is difficult, and I don't know how it's going to turn out."
Barring an unforeseen turn of events, Kight says that by the end of the year, Grant Street Dancehall ' a staple of downtown Lafayette for the past 25 years ' will move off the street that gave it its name and out of downtown.
At its current home in the old brick building at the corner of the Jefferson Street underpass, Grant Street has hosted music icons such as Muddy Waters, Ray Charles and Stevie Ray Vaughan and served as a home base for local acts like Sonny Landreth, who played the venue's opening night with zydeco king Clifton Chenier on July 4, 1980.
Kight declined to say whether his landlord, Garden Properties, was raising the cost of his lease, which comes up in January. He says other issues facing the club include the ongoing repair needs of the 80-year-old building and increased transient crime downtown ' a problem that has resulted in the club's employees and musical acts having their cars burglarized.
307 Downtown co-owner Robert Guercio says as downtown has grown, parking on the lower end of Jefferson Street has become more limited and less secure ' a trend that made him actively pursue leasing lots. Lemoine Co. and CA Guitars own the lots adjacent to Grant Street that Guercio is now leasing.
"I have way too much money invested in my business to not have any parking available for my customers," he says. "If I provide parking, I can continue to have the customers that I do have, plus add new customers."
Guercio has followed the lead of Tsunami's downtown restaurant, which has its own parking lot for customers. Customers of 307 Downtown who use the club's two Cypress Street lots can redeem the $5 parking charge at the door. In the future, Guercio says the club may offer valet parking for certain events.
Meanwhile, Kight says he can no longer guarantee parking for his customers.
"If they decide to close those lots off, where are [Grant Street customers] going to park?" he asks. Lately, he says Grant Street patrons have been seeking out spots further past the railroad tracks toward Evangeline Thruway, which has resulted in even more car burglaries and double parking.
Besides parking issues, Kight says the complexion of downtown has changed, and his business was at one of its all-time lows this past summer. If he moves the club, he hasn't decided whether he will keep the Grant Street name.
"It's certainly possible to name something Grant Street that's not on Grant Street," he says. "Is it possible to translate that into the same vibe? I don't know, and that's my biggest concern. Grant Street to me is live music, comfort for the customers and prestige for the musicians. It's got to fulfill all of those, and sometimes things have to be modified to make that happen."
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.