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Executive Director of Downtown Development District talks parking, crime at Wednesday's Rotary Club meeting

3 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Wednesday, November 01 2023 Nov 1, 2023 November 01, 2023 5:57 PM November 01, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - From the River Center to the State Capitol, the downtown area is an economic staple for the city of Baton Rouge. 

Members of the Downtown Development District are hoping to keep that momentum going by implementing a five year plan.

Whitney Hoffman-Sayal, Executive Director of the DDD, says they are working to add more residential space to downtown and converting office space into apartments. One example of that is the Chase Tower that was just recently renovated into the Rivermark Centre.

"We have a leg up on other downtowns because our conversions started happening before the financial market that we're in right now," Hoffman-Sayal said.

In her presentation, Hoffman-Sayal used statistics gathered from a survey put out by the DDD months ago. Out of 1400 responses, 40% of downtown workers said they wanted to live downtown.

However, the DDD's efforts to make downtown seem more appealing to residents and visitors are squandered by concerns of crime and parking. In that same survey, 92% of residents said they did feel safe during the day, but that number drops to 48% in the evenings. 

With the recent addition of BRPD fifth district officers doing 24-hour patrols around downtown, Hoffman-Sayal hopes the sense of security will be improved. 

Another key element the DDD addressed is parking, and how to effectively communicate the proper locations to drivers. 

"I know not everyone wants to hear it but we do have enough parking we just need to do a better job of showing people where they can park," Hoffman-Sayal said. 

With downtown traffic back to pre-pandemic levels, this multi-faceted plan has the goal of making the downtown experience better than ever before. 

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