Amid the dust and slow moving construction equipment, downtown Lafayette visitors will see bright orange and blue signs emblazoned with the message “Open For Business.”
It's the heart of a city-led marketing campaign to keep customers and merchants informed -- and concerns to a minimum -- as crews widen sidewalks and install decorative lighting, planters and other amenities on sections of Main Street.
Contractors created wooden walkways to help pedestrians cross over the dirt and gravel that’s replaced sidewalks in front of shops on Main between Tenth and Eleventh streets, part of the city’s assurance that businesses will always be accessible.
Artist Linda Elmore says she’s been preparing her customers for the dust, noise and temporarily lost parking spots that will eventually affect her shop in the 600 block of Main.
“My sidewalk might be tore up for a short time but that doesn’t mean I won’t be open,” she says.
Mayor Tony Roswarski isn’t apologizing for the dust. He’s inviting people to visit downtown and watch the construction.
“I hope people come down and look and see what’s going on, and then take that enthusiasm as the project’s completed, and really move downtown to an entirely different level,” he says.
Roswarski says he hopes the streetscape improvements will transform the atmosphere in the city center, just as he hopes to keep merchants from moving out of downtown.
“They put their heart and soul into to because it’s just a different business model to survive in a downtown urban environment,” he says.
Elmore says business owners need to support the city effort. “I’ve heard some complaining, and that’s really too bad because it’s only temporary,” she says.
Friends of Downtown office manager Cyndi Bodin says the layout of summer events like Mosey Down Main Street will adjust as the construction progresses from Fourth to Eighth street.
Go to www.downtownlafayetteisopen.com for updates on parking and the location of construction crews.
Work is slated for completion by December.
The $5 million project is funded through Tax Increment Financing revenues.