LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – In the mists of shutdowns, restrictions, and historic unemployment numbers downtown Lafayette still saw growth during a year no one would expect it. “We had nearly 20 new businesses open in downtown Lafayette during 2020. Some just before the pandemic really hit Louisiana but some after”, said Anita Begnaud the CEO of Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Lafayette Unlimited. A second-hand outdoor apparel shop opened within a popular bike shop, a local hat designer moved home from New Orleans, and now you can grab a glass of wine at a new book store.
Even with new businesses looking to hire, those in the service and music industries continue to suffer. “We really consider those people as an integral part of our family and our community and it was awesome to watch people step up to support them because they really had a difficult year”, said Begnaud.
Downtown saw residential development in 2020 and hopes to see even more when a new sewage lift station will be completed. Begnaud explains, “That’s going to make it possible for nearly 500 new residential units to be developed in the downtown area. Which is going to help us get over the first hurdle. We are also working on long-term solutions with LUS for a larger capacity station to help us have the capacity for 2000 units in the downtown area. Which will help us grow for the next 5 to 10 years.”
It’s the question on everyone’s mind when will live events come back to Downtown Lafayette?
“We are really looking forward to planning in-person events in the latter half of 2021 because those bring people to the heart of our district. At the end of the day, they bring people into the businesses in Downtown Lafayette. That’s what we are all about, supporting those businesses, bringing those people down here, and exposing them to the amazing things that we have available in Downtown Lafayette. The best way to do that is through what makes us special. That’s music and public gatherings. As it becomes safer to do so everyone in Lafayette and Acadiana should know we are working hard on planning behind the scenes to make sure we can gather safely in Downtown Lafayette.”