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Historic 'Catfish Town' building may be torn down

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BATON ROUGE - A downtown casino is requesting a historic Baton Rouge building be torn down so the land can be used as a parking lot. 

The Belle of Baton Rouge requested a demolishment of Catfish Town, a 100-year-old building, to add a parking lot. The request was sent to the Historic Preservation Commission, who denied it because of the historic value of the building.

"We didn't think the purpose of their plans were worthy of demolishing that important building," board member of the Historic Preservation Commission Rex Cabaniss said.

He says that the building deserves proper development. Not demolition. 

"We don't need more parking lots. We need to preserve what's good about our downtown area," Cabaniss said. 

Catfish Town has been reinvented many times over the years. Throughout the 1980s, it was an entertainment and shopping center. Lenders foreclosed on the property in 1987.

The Belle of Baton Rouge has appealed the Historic Preservation Commission's decision. The East Baton Rouge Metro Council is scheduled to consider the appeal Wednesday afternoon. 

"I'll be there to speak my thoughts. As a local architect, a booster of the downtown developmental area and representing thoughts of the Historical Preservation Commission," Cabaniss said.

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