"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."
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
Artificial sweeteners eyed; Scottish independence vote begins; Ford has cancer and more national and international news for Thursday, September 18, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.
The superintendent will make another go at getting a budget passed for the already commenced fiscal year as the LPSB is slated to meet tonight on the eve of the state’s budget adoption deadline.
A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
It seeks an investigation into a $100,000 fund transfer from Vitter's federal campaign account to an independent PAC supporting Vitter's 2015 candidacy for governor.
Landrieu has acknowledged that she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account.
House District 45 Rep. Joel Robideaux is term-limited and running for city-parish president next year, leaving his seat up for grabs come 2015 and at least three likely contenders so far, including ...
When the Browns explained their plans to Brian Hoyer about bringing rookie Johnny Manziel into the game, Cleveland's starting quarterback bit his lip and devised one of his own.
National debate over solitary confinement puts spotlight on Angola inmate’s 35 years in ‘the hole’