"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."
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.