Keeping Spanish Town weird in an Airbnb world

    Spanish Town residents Cheryl McCormick and Derrell Cohoon recall the surly reputation the neighborhood had when they moved into their historic Fifth Street home some 20 years ago.

    Today, the neighborhood is blooming with life. Among those calling the more than 200-year-old neighborhood home are an assortment of creatives, lobbyists and government officials—most attracted to the neighborhood by its historic houses, and proximity to downtown and the State Capitol.

    “One of the things we enjoy about Spanish Town is that it’s an eclectic neighborhood,” says Cohoon. “It’s not a subdivision, it’s a neighborhood. We’ve got some upscale folks, we’ve got artists, writers, LSU students. You have all types of people and we seem to be getting along quite well.”

    However, as Business Report covers in a new feature, redevelopment has also attracted tourists to the neighborhood, and with them short-term leased properties available through websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Vrbo.

    In fact, Airbnb announced this morning that more than 600 guests stayed in Airbnbs in Baton Rouge during the LSU commencement weekend May 9-11, a 62% increase over the same weekend last year.

    Some of those visitors may have stayed in Spanish Town; the neighborhood’s charm and location make short-term rentals an attractive option for visitors looking for an authentic Capital City experience as well as those in town for extended business trips.  

    But Spanish Town residents like McCormick and Cohoon are concerned that short-term rentals could have a detrimental effect on the neighborhood. Read the full story about the changes in the historic neighborhood and what local government officials are proposing in response. Send comments to editor@businessreport.com

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