OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) With a new ordinance being passed in Opelousas, residents can soon expect to see new life brought to the downtown area.

“If you go to a community and want to do a diagnosis on the community, take a look at the downtown. It’s the heart of this city and this city is the heart of a really big geography that at one time used to be a thriving commerce. This is the start of that renaissance, that revitalization of downtown,” Bill Rodier said.

Rodier and Lena Charles from the Opelousas Downtown Development District say over 65 buildings have been out of commerce in the downtown area. Because of this, business has been almost non-existent for 35 years.

To bring business, attention and energy back to the heart of the city; the non-residential vacant property ordinance was passed.

“This ordinance is going to move these buildings back in commerce, give an opportunity for the community to start getting viable and walkable and usable space here. And then the customers who frequent this will also contribute to the city’s tax base. So, this really gives that energy and lets folks know that we’re really serious about revitalizing our community,” Lena Charles said.

With the ordinance just being passed in April, Charles says the revitalization is still in the early planning stages, and it will take time before projects begin.

But the city has finally reached the starting line.

“35 years is a long, long time and change moves slowly. But change has to start, and this is a start. So don’t drive there today and expect to see something different.”

“It took generations for this circumstance to exist right now, and this will be a generational process. But we’re moving that generational process from one direction to a whole new direction.”

Rodier and Charles say they’ve already been in contact with business and property owners in the area and they’re excited to see the same enthusiasm being shared throughout the community.