City of Central places moratorium on commercial building

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - Cheap is not a word officials in Central want associated with their city. That's how some describe the look of a few new shopping areas and it's forced the council there to shut down the permit process while they come up with some design guidelines.

The Village at Magnolia Square, off Lovett Road in Central, has been under construction for some time.

"We wanted to do a New Orleans theme," said local developer Steve Rabalais. He says he wanted to capture the charm and style of the Crescent City in Central. Balconies with wrought iron, decorative lights and a fountain are just some of the designs there.

"It'll cost more money, but you get a much better product," Rabalais said.

That same attention to detail on the outside, diners will find inside at the city's newest steakhouse, Stabs. A massive crystal chandelier awaits diners once they enter.

"This is the type of construction I like to see, instead of just metal buildings thrown up," he said.

The construction at the mixed-use development is what officials say should be the standard in Central. Not necessarily the same design style, but with the same quality of construction.

"Just having plain mental buildings constructed right next to buildings that are nice and have nice architectural features," is how David Barrow, with the city, describe the problem.

Barrow says there are businesses on major corridors that don't give off the best impression of the city. One example, he says, is a new shopping center on Wax Road.

"The front façade is a nice façade, but on the side of it is a metal wall up there," Barrow said.

But he says it was another business that really sparked the discussion on design.

"Over in Indian Mound they said, 'We want stucco finish on all the sides, landscaping like this, lights like this.' Dollar General said okay, okay we'll do it...they had restrictions. Over on Greenwell Springs Road we didn't have restrictions, so they put their prototype building up," Barrow said.

Now a 90-day moratorium is in place for all new permits for commercial construction. That will allow the city council time to pass an ordinance with a standard design guideline. The ordinance will include restrictions on what materials can be used.

"We're trying to raise the standard out here in Central," said Rabalais.

If the ordinance passes, it will only apply to commercial buildings within 200 feet of the right-of-way on certain roads in Central.

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