Proposed plan would turn Third Street into pedestrian-only zone

Proposed plan would turn Third Street into pedestrian-only zone

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A familiar idea floating around Baton Rouge would turn Third Street into a designated entertainment district that limits vehicle traffic after a designated time. Proponents say it would improve security and boost business, but others wonder who would foot the bill for the new tax district.

"It's all about control, it's all about security, it's all about safety," said attorney, Charles Landry.

Landry offered to work with Councilman Buddy Amoroso to help draft the proposal. The idea came about this week after the metro council axed a proposal to extend bar hours until 4 a.m.

The Baton Rouge attorney with downtown offices and executive suites says he and his clients have noticed crowds getting bigger and more rowdy in recent months. He thinks an entertainment district would help protect his investments by generating a new source of revenue to pay for more police. He says the tax would basically be an impact fee.

"It'll give those bars, in my opinion, an opportunity to actually make more money, because they will be collecting money from their patrons to plow back into safety," Landry explained.

But not everyone is on board. Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, says Third Street is more than just bars. "The diversity of development on Third Street is maybe a little bit different than other entertainment districts," Rhorer said.

He says hotels need open roads for guests to check in. He also pointed out the Baton Rouge Police Department already prohibits traffic on certain blocks of Third Street on busy nights. He agrees, however, that crowd control is an issue that needs to be addressed.

"The timing on this is really good, because we're looking at a lot of these issues right now, but obviously, the most important thing is to get input from property owners and the businesses along the corridors," Rhorer said.

Landry says Baton Rouge should take a cue from other big cities around the country and make the entertainment district work. He says the model could be used to spur development in other areas of Baton Rouge besides downtown.

The idea has not yet officially been proposed, but it could appear on the metro council's agenda in the coming weeks or months.

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