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The first draft of an economic development plan for private and public residential redevelopment along the Evangeline Thruway Corridor outside the Interstate 49 Lafayette Connector catchment area is currently being reviewed by the Evangeline Thruway Redevelopment Team.

The draft Evangeline Corridor Economic Action Plan is the result of a year of meetings with residents and business owners, as well as research and urban planning work, and includes strategies to coordinate public and private investment in a three-mile area near the Connector but not part of the federal and state Connector project.

“The Economic Action Plan provides a roadmap to organize investment in high-impact areas,” said the report presented to ETRT members on Monday. “To reap the benefits, it is critical for public and private actors, as well as various community partners, to work together and align their interests and resources.”

The plan envisions a series of initiatives around eight catalytic projects at strategic locations along the Evangeline Corridor, including along the planned “Grand Boulevard” and at locations to the north.

Projects may include mixed-use buildings, commercial and retail operations, neighborhood amenities, open space, and infrastructure improvements that meet community needs, such as safer pedestrian connections between neighborhoods.

Together, the catalytic projects aim to “form a system of strategic investments that brings communities back together, bridges the economic divide and values ​​the uniqueness of each neighborhood,” the action plan states.

These projects include:

  • Simcoe Triangle – between Simcoe Street and Jefferson Street, with the Greenhouse art studio. 72 new housing units are planned, including affordable housing for seniors.
  • Downtown Connection – does not include Downtown; from the former Coburn building to beyond Louisiana Avenue. Plans include restaurants, lounges, multi-purpose lawn for events, mixed use with residential area, linear park.
  • Boulevard South – approximately from Marne Street to Louisiana Avenue. Proposed mixed use, community center, multi-family and vacant lot housing, health clinic.
  • Donlon Triangle – between Donlon Avenue and abandoned railroad line. Proposed mixed-use space with health clinic, multi-family housing, senior housing, restaurant with outdoor dining.
  • McComb-Veazey Central – between 11th and 13th streets and Magnolia and Apple streets. Proposed are multi-family and single-family housing, a community pavilion, community plaza and retail space.
  • MLK Jr. Plaza – between Connector, MLK Boulevard and Parkway Shopping Center. Planned plaza with outdoor dining and space for a mobile health unit, public green space, multi-use space, retail space or small live-work units.
  • Jefferson Intersection – bounded by Simcoe, South Magnolia and 6th Streets and Connector, including Jefferson Boulevard. Planned grocery store, mixed-use/employment development area, public plaza honoring cultural history, multi-family housing, small business shopping center.
  • Plan Patterson – borders Patterson and Netta Streets and Connector and includes the Holiday Inn. Planned hotel expansion with conference rooms, single family home sites, multi-family housing with the potential for ground floor retail such as a mini grocery store, plaza with possible community center and small live/work spaces.

ETRT team members are reviewing the draft plan and will propose changes to be included in the final plan, said ETRT Chairman Alex Lazard. He expects to present the nearly final draft to stakeholders in the fall.

Another plan, the Evangeline Corridor Initiative released in 2018, identified 44 catalyst projects – including the 12th Street and Willow Street streetscape projects – some of which have already been implemented with public funds, according to Lazard.

As authorities narrowed the Connector’s focus in recent years, the ETRT began to focus on private redevelopment opportunities, including residential and commercial construction, that were just outside the scope of the Connector project, he said. This led to the draft Economic Action Plan.