PLAQUEMINE, La. (WAFB) - When you’re driving on Highway 1 South into the Iberville Parish seat, a once major eyesore in Plaquemine is now rubble.
“Relief. Because that was the first thing people would see when they come into town, and our stores were just kind of tucked away behind it,” said Marietta O’Dwyer.
O’Dwyer owns Bugs N Butterflies next door. It’s a children’s clothing store in the Plaquemine Depot Market, which was once the train station. She’s hopeful this demolition will spark some kind of revitalization in the city’s historic district.
"It needs to be revived. We have so many of the old buildings that are just boarded up, and it's just sad to see the town to go down like that," said O'Dwyer.
Dozens of properties and old businesses like those on Railroad Avenue and Main Street have sat dormant for years now, or have for rent or for sale signs on the windows.
“A little bit of everything would be good, good for the town,” said Jerry Bonner, the owner of Beerbelly’s.
Bonner says business is good, but more restaurants and shops nearby would help.
“In the old days, they said it was really nice, and there’s only a couple of businesses open right now,” he said.
Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves says the historic district of Plaquemine is still trying to find its niche, but once it does, it will not only help the business owners that are already downtown flourish, but it will help Iberville Parish as a whole.
"The people want it and I feel it, and we getting there. Things like this out the way is just helping us tremendously," said Reeves.
The plan is to beautify the area where the rubble is now.
Reeves says nearby, there have also been upgrades to the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park, and construction will begin on a community center in 2020.
But Reeves would like more businesses to open up shop downtown.
“It could be coffee shops, sandwich shops, even bar rooms are attractive in a lot of communities, arts and crafts, things of that nature, art galleries, so I’m wide open to anything, but we got to find that niche,” said Reeves.
The mayor says they’re looking to hire a Main Street manager to help bring new ideas and businesses to the historic district. Anyone interested in applying can contact the mayor’s office at 225-687-3116.