BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Leaders and planning consultants held their final public meeting Thursday about transforming a 10-street block area from the Shreveport-Barksdale bridge to just past the Century Link Center.
The consultants from the SWA planning firm unveiled their ultimate vision for what they want South Bossier City to look like in the future. Their primary strategy includes: establishing a new downtown, strengthening residential connectivity, and enhancing existing green space.
The vision is all part of a redevelopment study required by a multi-million dollar lawsuit settlement between both developer U. L. Coleman and Bossier City. The suit came to a settlement in mid 2012. Coleman sued in 2006 after being denied a curb cut to the Arthur Teague Parkway for its "Walker Place Development," which the developer U.L. Coleman said is moving forward.
"We are having discussions right now with commercial tenants, we have prospects of going in with a combination of retail, some office, and very high quality multifamily developments," said Coleman.
SWA Consultant Todd Meyer explained one of the major priorities of the plan is to bring mixed-use development to the area, where it is currently non-existent.
However, residents expressed worries that more development, would bring too much traffic to the area, much like Airline and Youree drive.
Meyer mentioned a solution to the concerns about congestion could be enhancing the pedestrian and bicycle network, "We want to make sure if people want to get around without a car, that they have the opportunity to do that as well," said Meyer.
In order to do that, Meyer explained, controlled cross walks would be necessary at intersections on Barksdale Blvd. "We aren't talking about slowing traffic down, but when these are timed properly, with the traffic lights, we can give people a better opportunity to cross at the intersections," he said.
According to Meyer, branding the community's identity is necessary, "We want to make sure when people come in to South Bossier City, either from other parts of Bossier City or from Shreveport or other areas, which they know when they've arrived there, that it is clearly identified when you are entering."
Some residents expressed concern about the part of the plan that included planting more greenery in public spaces; they complained some trees in neighborhoods like Shady Grove are not currently properly maintained by the city.
Special Projects Coordinator Pam Glorioso assured the public, the new landscaping would be taken care of, "Now there are new financing programs, that can help supplement the city funds to help keep those trees and any other landscaping alive and keep it maintained," said Glorioso.
Initially, at the April 28 public meeting, the SWA planners suggested slowing down traffic on Barksdale Boulevard and building a downtown area there, but they've since changed their minds after pushback from the city and public.
"We listened, so we said we are not going to do that, we've backed away from that, as I said before we are taking that idea, of the more walk able main street and transferring that to Walker Place," said Meyer.
Coleman explained the 92-acre Walker Place Development could become a go-to destination, "We think Walker place can become a whole, what we call, a town center in South Bossier. We want as much as possible, for it to be walk able, to be accessed by bike, to reduce 100% dependence on cars," he said.
He predicts the company will be able to break ground within the next 12-24 months and are targeting 150-200 thousand square feet to be developed on the retail side over a 5-year period. "With an initial phase of 100 thousand plus square feet in that initial phase, that certainly includes an expanded and enlarged grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, and other things typically in a neighborhood shopping center," said Coleman.
Planners predict the study will be finalized by the end of this summer, but emphasized any large changes will likely not be seen for decades. Once finalized, the plan will then presenting it to city council. The council will decide to approve of it or not.
The total cost of the redevelopment study is $50 thousand, developer U.L. Coleman is picking up the cost.