"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."
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.
The endorsements keep coming for District 9 LPSB candidate Jeremy Hidalgo, who picked up his fifth vow of support Thursday, this time from the Chamber’s political action committee.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be out knocking on doors this weekend with anti-abortion activists encouraging people to vote against his colleague, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
The ACLU of Louisiana has sued Abbeville's mayor and police chief over a policy barring police from any social media use showing the city in a bad light.
Prospective Republican presidential candidates are expected to promote "religious liberty" at home and abroad at a gathering of religious conservatives Friday, with anti-Obama speeches from the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.