Downtown development brings parking concerns
BATON ROUGE - With the landscape of downtown Baton Rouge changing with more living space, restaurants and bars, downtown developers plan to address parking concerns before it becomes a major problem.
Construction on the first tower of the IBM building is set to open in May with the residential tower following in the fall. In addition, plans for the Commerce Building call for residential apartments to add to the number of people living downtown. The growing number of people calling downtown home has business owners giddy.
"Oh it's exciting," said restaurant owner Rick Volland. "We came in about 10 years ago when there wasn't a whole lot down here when it was just getting started, so we've seen huge growth down here. We now have three restaurants and bars down here, so the more that comes with full-time residents and hotels is exciting."
The Downtown Development District says there's now 63 restaurants downtown along with a brand new grocery store that just opened its doors. With more reasons to come downtown, Downtown Development District Executive Director Davis Rhorer says it's time to improve parking.
"We're trying to be proactive about that by doing a parking study," he said. "So that's being massaged right now with where we would identify a new parking garage and maybe a reassignment of existing parking and better utilization of some existing garages and stuff."
Rhorer says the courthouse area poses the biggest parking problem, especially since one of the River Center parking garages is out of service right now. Rhorer plans to stay ahead of the issue and hopes to address parking concerns soon.
"They have to be. If not, it's going to cause some major issues sooner than later," said Volland. "The parking needs to be addressed now and not after the fact. It's kind of like a lot of things when they build and then scratch their heads after on why parking and traffic are so bad."
The Downtown Development District plans to release the result of the parking study within the next month.