Parking still an issue for some downtown businesses
BATON ROUGE - Bates and Thigpen has been dressing men in the capital city for almost a century. Since the seventies, Bradley Bates has been behind the counter. During that time, he's seen highs and lows, but right now he says downtown is a great place to be.
"I've not seen it this well since the eighties," Bates said. "It's really a delightful place to be and it's done very well, it wasn't just done with a coat of paint."
However, Bates still has some concerns. The biggest seems to be the lack of parking in downtown, especially on Third Street.
"That is a big, big negative," Bates said. "I can't go through a day that somebody hadn't called, or somebody hadn't walked in the door that hadn't complained about coming downtown because of the reason."
With two hotels on Third Street, Bates says his store has seen more foot traffic, but with so many options for food, drinks and entertainment, he says more parking spaces are crucial.
"Nine times out of ten they'll say I hate to go down there because I can't find a place to park and that shouldn't be, because there are places, but they are taken up by other things."
The Downtown Development District has made a wide variety of improvements to the downtown area but knows more work is left to be done. Executive Director Davis Rhorer and Bates both agree the increase in downtown residents is good for business.
"You can walk to restaurants, you can walk to attractions, you can walk to the river, you can walk to your place of work," Rhorer said.
If the parking issues can be addressed, Bates says he believes the area is in store for more success.
"I think downtown has flourished into the point that mom and pop businesses are pretty welcome," Bates said.
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