SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - New life is coming to downtown Shreveport.
Now, thanks to a dedicated group of people who saw hope and opportunity in the once neglected area, a new chapter begins.
On Monday, Oct. 28, hundreds gathered to celebrate the opening of Caddo Common Park, the city’s first urban greenspace. Featuring a tree-lined walking path with benches, bike racks and a food truck court, this two-acre space brings a refreshing feel to to the downtown area.
“You’d be afraid to come down here, it was really just an eye-sore,” said Chris Gabriel, the executive vice president of Volunteers of America. “Now, it’s a beautiful addition to the community...it doesn’t matter what part of Shreveport you live in, you have to come out here and experience the new Common Park.”
Caddo Common Park took a year to construct and years to plan. But, for Wendy Benscoter, the executive director of Shreveport Common, the wait makes this joyous reveal that much more thrilling.
“Our community wants to be able to come together and do things, they want to have a place to go,” Benscoter mentioned. “There will always be something happening here, you can bring your friends, your family tourists...it’s just a great place to meet.”
Shreveport residents, private donors, state, parish and city leaders spoke about how the Caddo Common Park could be the impetus for generating economic development in an aging city.
“If we have this, then we know we can attract new professionals, we can also keep people here after college,” said Benscoter. “We know this is what millenials want.”
Caddo Common Park creators hope to inspire healthy living and eating habits for people using the greenspace. A partnership with Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport will create health and fitness programs through the park to improve the quality of life for area residents.
“That’s what Shreveport Common is about,” said Benscoter. “It’s about everybody coming together to lift an area and that’s what happened today.”
Coming November 2 through early December, Rainbow City will be the first arts installation in the park. Rainbow City features scores of massive air-filled sculptures - some a towering 50-feet tall.
A parade to mark the start of Rainbow City begins this Saturday at 10 a.m. by Artspace in downtown Shreveport.