BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Build Baton Rouge has received a $5 million award from JPMorgan Chase’s 2020 AdvancingCities Challenge to fund the Plank Road Masterplan.
The project includes programs that will eliminate blight, grow small businesses, and preserve housing affordability in North Baton Rouge.
The project aims to:
- Develop a grocery-anchored mixed-use development with over 40 affordable housing units on the new bus rapid transit line
- Renovate a 3,500 sq. ft historic building into a Food Incubator that will provide commercial kitchen space, deliver fresh food and offer job training
- Provide financial and technical support to 15 new and existing minority-owned businesses
- Upgrade 15 building facades along the Corridor
- Transform a 4,000 sq. ft vacant lot into a community pocket park
- Preserve housing affordability through the formation of a Community Land Trust
“With the new funds coming in, I think that we can revitalize this community so that citizens that are staying here and that we all can take pride. It will be a place that people are going to want to come visit, and people will want to come to our neighborhood, and that will help boost our city and our economy,” said Jacoby Johnson, co-owner of Turned Up Hair and Beauty Salon.
Johnson says he believes the lack of upkeep and development has pushed people away from a once vibrant community. It’s a concern that many living in the area of north Baton Rouge have expressed. It’s one of the reasons Build Baton Rouge created the Plank Road Masterplan, with programs to revitalize the area.
“We have worked on implementing a number of projects from the plan and we are excited to award the Advancing Cities Grant, which really catapults us several years into the future,” said Christopher Tyson, director of Build Baton Rouge.
Tyson says projects like the rapid bus transit line connecting Plank Road to Nicholson for easier transportation is already in development. Thanks to the financial assistance, other projects coming to the area include a new park, a grocery store, creating affordable housing, and financial help for existing businesses.
“People have waited a long time, neglect has been ongoing, so we understand the urgency of people to seek change in their community,” said Tyson.
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