More than 50 projects in the works for downtown this year

While the pandemic dampened development across the region last year, moving into the new year there are more than 50 projects in the works for Baton Rouge’s Downtown Development District. 

Among the plans are the completion of the second phase of Riverfront Plaza, upgrades to the reflective Rotary Club sculpture on the levee, transportation projects with the Capital Area Transportation System and nearly 800 new residential apartment units. That’s according to DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer, who provided updates on the projects during this morning’s DDD meeting. 

CATS will relaunch its downtown trolley program this summer, with rebranded electric buses and an emphasis on shorter wait times in between rides. Rhorer was especially optimistic about how the program will complement the return of riverboat cruises to the city. CATS’ planned bus rapid transit system will feature five downtown stops: Three on Florida Street, one on North Boulevard at 4th Street, and one on Government Street at the River Center. 

The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s new home, the Cary Saurage Community Arts Center, is also expected to open this summer. 

There are more than 750 residential apartment units going up throughout downtown—286 in Downtown South and 468 in Downtown East. Among the most notable projects are Valencia Park, Lotus Village and Elysian III, which together are expected to add much needed affordable housing units while helping to redevelop a long-neglected area.

A master plan for Memorial Stadium will also be drafted this year. Rhorer says the goal is to connect the nearby neighborhood with the stadium’s amenities, such as the planned three basketball courts. Additionally, officials are looking to improve area sidewalks and bike lanes to make it easier for residents to get to the heart of downtown and to essential services. 

Hollywood Casino is expected to break ground shortly on its new expansion onto land, set for completion in early 2022.