BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's no longer a place that's just about the night life, in the next couple years downtown Baton Rouge will be the place hundreds of people live. The Downtown Development District calls it a renaissance period for an area that was once deserted by most people.
There are bars, more than 60 restaurants and soon entertainment will lure people to the top of the Coca-Cola building. And even more is in the works.
"I think we have about, close to 30 different projects in various stages between planning and development," said Davis Rhorer, Executive Director of the Downtown Development District.
Movement on the latest project will start next week. On the corner of Third and Convention Streets, the Onyx building will be turned into a mixed-use development with some commercial and some residential. Commercial Properties will start the six million dollar process to convert the building into what will be The Onyx Residences, with 28 open concept homes that range in size from 600 to 1100 square feet.
"That's pretty much standard now. That's the housing types they're developing," Rhorer said.
Rhorer says that will bring the total number of housing on Third Street to 80.
Back in the 1990's, downtown was not the place where people would congregate. But Rhorer says by laying out a vision, having the best planners and help from the private sector/government and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, they were able to draw in big name business like the Hilton Hotel. Some of those businesses have drawn other businesses, which is now bringing in people who want to call downtown home.
"We get more people living down here, then different market factors come in to play," Rhorer said. "Might one day be a larger grocery store or some retail to support that."
Rhorer says the next step is to continue to develop green space, where people enjoy some recreation.
Once things in the immediate downtown area fill up, the plan is to expand for several blocks in all directions. Rhorer says they need to increase the footprint of downtown.