Downtown Development revitalizes Baton Rouge

NBC33 Staff
News
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - 8:26pm

From zero, to 1,000 hotel rooms. Baton Rouge city leaders have been working on that dream for the last 14 years. Now, thanks to a revitalization of the Capital City, what once seemed unattainable is finally within reach.

The State Office Building on the corner of Third Street and Convention is one of our city’s oldest tall buildings. Now, it’s getting new life as the district’s latest hotel.
Davis Rhorer is the Executive Director of the Downtown Development District. He’s excited about the new addition, telling us, “the goal was to get over that thousand threshold, and if this (the hotel deal) goes through, it would be able to happen.”

There’s a blockade in the way, though. For the new hotel to be renovated, Governor Bobby Jindal has to sign a law that would put the building in a special tax district. That would allow the buyers to collect the funds necessary to turn the historic building into a hotel. Rhorer believes getting the piece of legislation through the House and Senate is possible, especially since there’s such a demand downtown for hotel rooms.

That growing demand is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by other hotel managers downtown, either. Gayle Carnahan, who manages Hotel Indigo, says "we have certainly seen a lot of business, especially this year." Despite being just a block away from the proposed new construction, Carnahan welcomes the company. “As they say, a rising tide floats all boats, so we expect to get some business" says Gayle, who is confident the demand for places to stay downtown will help every hotel’s bottom line.

So with all the rooms, what will people do at night? Especially on Sundays, when most of Downtown Baton Rouge is shut down? That’s the next question the Downtown Development District wants to answer. Rhorer thinks he has the right idea: “what you do is you extend the hours of downtown into the 24 hour life… because hotels are like residences downtown, with people coming and going in the evening and on the weekends."

A 24 hour downtown, and 1,000 hotel rooms, all conveniently located within a few square blocks of some of Baton Rouge’s main attractions like the River Center, and the mighty Mississippi itself. It’s a plan that has many excited, and ready to see what the next two years will hold for our ever-growing and expanding Capital City.

  

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