Garden District residents optimistic about new development on Government Street

Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - At the corner of Government Street and St. Rose Avenue, there is a closed barbeque stand, next door is the former Garden District Nursey now overgrown.

Developer Garrison Neill wants to transform the vacated corner lots.

“So, I am trying to use the historic buildings, so instead of trying to build some brand new building in the middle, I am using two different buildings and bringing them together,” Neill says.

He wants to build an outdoor dining area, in the historic Garden District, that connects to other businesses, creating a place where people can hang out.

The only problem is the lack of parking. Neill wants to build a parking lot to go along with his business vision. However, people who live nearby are concerned about what that means for their quiet street.

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“Once you zone commercial, it’s a parking lot this year, but he owns the land. He’s got a commercial lot in the neighborhood, it has the ability to become other things,” Rannah Gray says, who lives in the Garden District.

Gray is concerned about the traffic and noise that comes with that.

“I am very supportive of the development, but the part surprised me and surprised a lot of our neighbors because we are on a street adjacent to where this rezoning commercial would be,” Gray adds.

So, Garrison decided to go back to the drawing board, working with other businesses to secure parking across the street on Government Street.

“To get people to cross [over] Government Street is kind of a challenge right now, so doing a crosswalk is super important,” adds Neill.

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Metro Council Member Caroyln Coleman has been following the new development in her district and working with Neill and residents like Gray to find a compromise on the issues.

She says a crosswalk could soon be in the works considering more people want Government Street to be walkable.

“That it could be worked out whereby parking across the street can be and then the possibility of walkways being made to get from one side to the other. So, as I said this is the epitome of the more we get together the happier we can be,” Coleman says.

Sometimes finding a compromise can work out to be better than the original plan, and once that everyone can benefit.

Neill is hoping to start construction on the lot next month.

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