Citizen meeting

Carmen York, standing center, talks to the group of concerned Louisiana citizens. Photo by Woodrow Polston

LOUISIANA—A group of Louisiana citizens, mostly made up of local business owners and community leaders, met on Tuesday evening last week at the Bridge Coffee Shop because they have the motivation and desire to see businesses come back to life here in town.

Susan Fregeau, a CPA, who also conducts the Louisiana Ghost Tours, has been working on putting together an impressive collection of photos of many of the historic homes in Louisiana, as well as providing signs with QR codes for historic homes and businesses.

“We decided that since there is so much tourism during the Summer months that we have been running an ad in an online tourist magazine for activities that are going on here in Louisiana,” she said. “Using a QR code in the ad, potential visitors can be directed right to the (city’s) event information page. Some of those events include a ghost tour and also a Christmas home tour that will take place on the first weekend in December.” She added that, “We are working on getting everything updated and everyone on the same page.” 

Carmen York, who led the presentation, discussed the importance of acquiring an anchor store.

“An anchor store, basically being a large well known department store that drives traffic to a mall, is exactly what is needed to draw consumers to our smaller shops and stores here in Louisiana,” she said. “Usually when developers are building strip malls, they will wait until there is a solid anchor store before they fill the rest of the retail space. That is a testament to the importance of having an anchor store.”

She noted that there are currently attempts underway to attract such a store.

  When asked what incentives there are available to attract such an anchor store, City Administrator Kelly Henderson said, “We have the 353 tax abatement available that would be an incentive to help draw in prospective businesses.”

A Chapter 353 tax abatement is an incentive allowed by Missouri law to encourage the redevelopment of blighted areas through the abatement of real property taxes and, where appropriate, and the use of eminent domain. Under Chapter 353, tax abatement on real property taxes is available for a period up to 25 years.

Councilman Nick Fregeau said there is an effort underway to replant trees along Georgia Street in an effort to beautify the streetscape.

“We have had an ordinance on the books for a while, which is chapter 250, to set up a tree commission and set of ordinances to make us a tree city,” he said. “We are gearing up for that and have a meeting in a couple of weeks. We are currently seeking homeowners along Georgia Street who are looking to plant trees in their yard.” 

Charlie Cogar, who owns the Great River Road bed and breakfast at 403 N. Main St., asked the group, “How many of you know that we live on ‘The Little Dixie Highway’? Which is also known as Hwy. 79 and ‘The Great River Road’. Well, there is an organization in Minneapolis known as the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. I have been looking at maps that they have that list points of interest and activities along the river. A few things that stuck out to me that could be opportunities for us, is an interpretive center along the river, or at a place in town that discusses the features of the river here in Louisiana.

“Another thing,” he added, “was that a lot of these communities along the river have a Mississippi walking trail. And that could be a wonderful thing for us here.”

Numerous other ideas were discussed including an effort to decorate the windows of downtown storefronts, which is being sponsored by the Louisiana Community Betterment Association. It is being promoted as a must-see attraction for this winter. Work to put up decorations will begin Nov. 1 and a big reveal is set for Nov. 27. Decorations and lights will remain on display until Jan. 5.

For more information on how to get involved, you may contact the LCBA at 314-640-4420. If you would like to get involved with the vision to re-(Store) Louisiana, follow their Facebook page at Re(Store)ing & Renewing Louisiana Missouri.

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