Nathan Norris, the newly minted executive director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, addressed about 40 downtown business owners Tuesday evening at Bolt nightclub to offer an overview of his vision for the district — a vision that begins with increasing the downtown’s residential component.
DDA Executive Director Nathan Norris, center, addresses downtown business owners Tuesday.
“We don’t have enough people living downtown. If there aren’t enough people living downtown we can’t get other amenities that make downtown living worthwhile. So that’s the No. 1 goal right now,” Norris said. “We have plenty of options for those who want a rural lifestyle in this region — who want to live where you don’t have hear your neighbor or see your neighbor, there are options for you. We have plenty of options for those who want to live in a suburban area. What we don’t have are a lot of options for downtown living.”
Norris was quick to note that a robust downtown population has far-ranging effects on a community, not just on those who chose an urban lifestyle. “This is a regional issue,” he said. “It’s regional because this is really an economic development issue. It’s not about making the downtown prettier. If you’re a business thinking about moving here, you probably have 10 to 15 percent of your workforce that wants a high quality urban lifestyle. And if we’re not providing it here, the answer is I have to go somewhere else to find it.”
The lawyer/urban planner/real estate broker — Norris is featured in this month’s Cool Town issue — laid out three strategies to achieving the goal: maintain popular downtown events like Downtown Alive! and ArtWalk; improve the amenities package to make downtown attractive to developers; and facilitate what he calls “value-enhancing development” — the types of real estate development that encourages nearby property owners to invest in their own property.
“This isn’t about how we grow, how we plan; this is about whether we want to compete for talent, because that’s what businesses are looking at — they care about people, they care about talent,” Norris added. “If they can’t find the talent here they’re going to go elsewhere.”
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DEC 6 Here we are, at the top of another bad list: this time, Louisiana has the (dubious) honor of beating out all other states when it comes to gutting higher ed funding, this Picayune story reports. The American Association of Colleges and Universities says our cuts (nearly 18 percent this year alone) are the highest in the nation. Three-fourths of the states increased funding last year, with the top spender increasing funding by 28 percent. This is a great legacy for our governor, right?
DEC 6 Blogger Lamar White Jr. takes a look at the creepy effort over in Baton Rouge, wherein the southern, lily-white area of the city wants to secede from the union, er, create its own "city" and take all the really fat sales tax cows with it. Turns out the group campaigning for the move is a for-profit corporation, and Lamar says that means its effort won't pass legal muster.
DEC 6 Blogger Tom Aswell tells us about some fishiness he found in the state worker's comp office. There's some confusion about when one guy started working there, and there's also some involvement by a GOP lege from Hammond. It's all just another example of the Jindal administration's actions that "defy explanation," Aswell says.
DEC 6 Edwin Edwards may think it's possible he will be governor again, but columnist James Gill isn't so sure. Edwards would have to get a presidential pardon to run for governor -- unless he wants to wait until he's 99, Gill says. But even Edwards' many supporters should probably hope he doesn't get that, because there's no real chance he can win, Gill says.
DEC 6 Here's an interesting post on DIG Magazine for football history buffs. It's about the Pelican Bowl, the Bayou Classic and the history of black college football. It's a trip down memory lane and the story of a "mythical black college national crown." What killed it? Trying to compete with the Bayou Classic.
DEC 6 Nelson Mandela became famous while sitting in prison, where he was a symbol of apartheid. But his enduring legacy was his ability to forgive, to reach out a hand of peace to heal his country of division and oppression, and the Picayune talks about this aspect of his personality. The story also reminds us of the more light-hearted moments Louisiana shared with the former President of South Africa.
DEC 6 We've all been passed by a nut on the highway and assumed the driver was on drugs. Maybe that's not hyperbole: here's a story from the Picayune about a guy riding around with a meth lab in his back seat. One wonders if his insurance policy included coverage for random explosions.
DEC 6 Here's a new blog in the NOLA Defender; it's called Shift Change, and it's all about cocktails. This installment by Rhiannon Enlil focuses on the sazerac, the enigmatic cocktail made with absinthe. But Enlil also introduces herself, a long-time NOLA bartender who has "a lot of booze" in her house.
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