South Baton Rouge businesses excited for water campus
BATON ROUGE - Business owners in south Baton Rouge say they can't wait for the new water campus to open. The facility, which will be located on the site of the old city docks, is expected to generate thousands of jobs over the next two decades.
Restaurant owner Foudil Mandi opened up Mandi's Seafood on Highland Road last year. "Most of this area is empty buildings," said Mandi, "when you drive your car in a busy area, you're like, 'ok, i'm going to stop there next time.' But when the area is empty, your not going to stop."
City officials hope the campus will revitalize the area. "It's going to be right close to downtown, right close to old south Baton Rouge. Right there at LSU," said District 10 councilwoman Tara Wicker, "and it's a huge piece of economic development for this area."
Wednesday, ground was broken on the first phase of the $45 million water campus. The facility is designed to act like a 'mini-downtown' area that will attract scientists who want to research the Mississippi River.
Officials say the main purpose of the campus will be to research coastal protection projects and wetland restoration initiatives in Louisiana. The facility is also designed to attract private research groups working on river projects from around the world.
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is overseeing the project. "We are going to be here for hundreds of years," said CPRA Executive Director Kyle Graham, "and we're going to need that expertise to sustain our costal environment."
The first phase of construction is expected to take two years.