Developers and architects for the long-awaited Square 46 mixed-use development in Mid City are waiting on the city-parish to finalize plans for the Government Street redesign before beginning construction.
Architect Joshua Hoffpauir with Hoffpauir Studio is finalizing drawings for his 25,000-square-foot development. But Hoffpauir says he’s holding off on construction until he sees the plans for the so-called road diet project—whereby officials are considering reducing the roadway from four to three lanes and add sidewalks and bike lanes—and gets “clear and decisive answers” about how Government Street will be revamped.
“We want to make sure we do everything on our street frontage so that it works with their plan,” Hoffpauir says, adding they will immediately start work on the development once the city-parish sets a timeline for the street redesign.
Mayor Kip Holden announced the Government Street project with much fanfare in March 2014. The redesign is part of FuturEBR, the city-parish’s master plan, and will see the street redesigned from Interstate 110 to Lobdell Avenue. Early plans call for the roadway to be reduced to three lanes, including a dedicated turn lane. Construction was set to begin late 2014 or early this year and be completed by the end of 2015, but delays have plagued the project.
Maria Reid, environmental impact manager with the state Department of Transportation and Development, says receiving environmental approval from the Federal Highway Administration took longer than anticipated. DOTD also conducted numerous traffic and safety studies on the area, which lengthened the delay.
“We wanted to make sure when the road is reduced in the road diet, the traffic changes would not put (an) undue burden on the city streets in the area. We also wanted to make sure the safety aspects of the road diet would actually prove true,” says Reid. “We don’t want to do this project and give the city a road that’s not working.”
Nearly everyone interested in moving into Square 46, which has eight residential and multiple commercial and office spaces, wants to see Government Street redesigned, Hoffpauir says. A few tenants have signed on, while other interested parties are also waiting for answers.
“If I build what I want to build and they have something else in mind and tear up my front sidewalk, that doesn’t bode well for my tenants,” Hoffpauir says.
Once construction begins on Square 46, Hoffpauir estimates it will take nine to 12 months to complete. He is unsure how many spaces will be sold or leased.
DOTD will lead a public meeting on the status of the Government Street road diet plan sometime in late October, though a date, time and location have not been set. Project leaders will begin drawing up preliminary plans after the meeting.