The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the Downtown Shreveport Development Corporation (DSDC) exist to be strong advocates for Downtown.
The DDA and DSDC Mission Statements, though not identical, promote both organizations’ primary goal: “To actively pursue, support, facilitate and welcome initiatives that aid and encourage private development, and promote and coordinate public development within the Downtown Development District of Shreveport.”
What does that mean exactly? Well, on any given day you will find DDA and DSDC staff working with developers, property owners and building managers, businesses, city, parish and regional/state decision makers and other downtown partners on ways to enhance parking options, and increase residential and business opportunities. We promote properties, events and businesses, communicate with our many stakeholders and partners on issues important to downtown and handle dozens of other duties—such as downtown cleanup and metered parking oversight— vital to a successful downtown. Our small staff gets very few breathers!
Each year, the DDA & DSDC prepare a Program of Work that lays out the items and projects that staff and our board believe will be the most important for that year. We invite you to read the DDA’s 2015 Program of Work here.
Everything that we do is with one goal in mind— to make downtown a more dynamic and vibrant place, filled with business, residential, and quality of life opportunities. We do that by helping cut through red tape and delivering clear answers and expectations, and by helping connect people with others they need to know.
Here are some of the things DDA/DSDC have been working on lately:
- DDA was the lead organization in a Legislative effort to save and extend Historic Tax Credits which are vital to continued rehabilitation of some of downtown’s most important buildings.
- DDA/DSDC is responsible for the direct rehab of four historic downtown buildings including the buildings that house artspace (710 Texas) and Robinson Film Center (617 Texas). As part of our commitment to the success of the West Edge Arts District, we provide those spaces to SRAC and Robinson Film Center rent-free.
- DSDC partnered this year with The Community Foundation, DDA and other downtown stakeholders to complete a needed Shreveport Common Market Study. This study will give the so-called ‘first mover’ developers confidence in the long-term opportunities in downtown’s newest art and culture district, an exercise in Creative Placemaking in a part of downtown once considered blighted.
- The efforts of DDA established two historic districts- the Downtown Commercial District and St. Paul’s Bottoms Historic District. A joint DDA/DSDC effort recently led to the updating of the downtown commercial district which will mean increased tax credit opportunities for a number of building owners.
- DDA was the lead in establishing the Downtown Cultural District and compiles the yearly state report required to keep it in good standing. This makes downtown a tax-free zone for the sale of one-of-a-kind artworks.
- Efforts of DDA lead to the creation of the Cohab co-working space downtown. DDA/DSDC have been a large investor in the project and continue to sit on the board of directors.
- DDA/DSDC have led efforts in historic preservation through promotion, outreach, advertising, advocating for the continuation of historic tax credits, and building investment through structural, façade grants and more. We created two downtown history events- the yearly Hidden History and History on Tap- tours, and sit on the boards of the Spring Street Historic Museum and the Shreveport Water Works Museum.
- DDA/DSDC partnered with Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning to become the first city outside of New Orleans to have a so-called Performance Code. This has allowed us to advocate on behalf of downtown building owners/developers during the building rehab process to provide guidance and support, saving them both time and money.
- DDA/DSDC are the only organizations that offer incentives for downtown business and development. The incentives include façade and structural grants, a low interest loan fund, mini-grants to assist in downtown festivals and quality of life events and outright donations to projects that we believe are important to downtown.
- DDA worked with the city to create the city’s first-ever Street Performer’s Ordinance, which we recently asked to be amended to allow strolling performers. DDA handles permitting and oversight of all legal street performers.
- DDA handles permitting for all sidewalk vendors downtown and works with the city on vendor ordinance changes.
- DDA compiled voluminous data and worked side by side with Rich & Associates parking consultants & our downtown partners to produce the first-ever downtown parking study in 2012. This study is now our road map for downtown parking & shows how parking & historic rehab must happen simultaneously. See the Parking Study here.
- DDA/DSDC aggressively court developers for historic (and other) properties in downtown, and act as their liaison with the city, DEQ, State Historic Preservation Office, State Fire Marshal’s office, SWEPCO and others as well as sharing with them the vision for downtown. DDA is responsible for brokering the deal that led to the current rehabilitation of three historic buildings in the 600 block of Texas Street & is working closely with a developer who wishes to convert another large vacant building.
- DDA/DSDC worked with the city to overturn the Certificate of Occupancy for a group that intended to put a homeless shelter for 90 drug-addicted men in the former YWCA building. This was a first for downtown and re-affirmed that such a facility is not a Use by Right in the B4 zoning district. The YWCA has since been purchased and has been converted to the worldwide headquarters of the RainForest Art Foundation and Marlene Yu Museum.
- DDA/DSDC are working aggressively to create the partnership that will lead to a 517 space parking garage behind Southern University to support Sears building residential, the additional needs of Southern University and other development in that area.
- DDA has created a robust social media presence which includes a DDA facebook site, a weekly eBlast, a Twitter account and more. Through these free outlets, we reach more than 10,000 sets of eyes per week with just free media alone.
- We work with SPAR, the property manager and businesses to continue to invigorate the Red River District through programs, media and more. The most recent initiative there was the successful Pop UP Project which filled every space for two weeks.
- DSDC/DDA created the successful Pop UP Project to animate vacant spaces downtown, proving the value of these spaces and the need for additional downtown retail.
- DDA wrote the Civic Appropriations application given out yearly to NGOs asking for Riverfront Fund money and are the only non-councilmember to sit on the city’s B4 committee.
- Both DDA and DSDC regularly provide data for studies, to Realtors/Brokers, to building owners/developers, the city, and others.
- DDA is a member of the Shreveport Common Management Team and as such, work on all aspects of the Common— including but not limited to— the design of the Caddo Common Park, zoning overlay, potential development and more.
- City Permits calls us each time a demo permit or major rehab permit is pulled downtown. We interact with the building owner to determine that the rehab fits with downtown vision and other development.
- We are regularly called to provide information/answer questions about downtown to groups involved with the Unified Development Code, I-49 Inner City connector, Historic Preservation Commission, downtown transit plans and other issues that will impact downtown.
- We have created initial Design Guidelines for downtown for the Historic Preservation Committee.
- DDA won a $250,000 BP marketing grant and used it to provide out-of-market advertising to Louisiana Film Prize, MSPS New Music Festival, Makers Fair, Downtown Paranormal Fest and other events, enhancing downtown’s tourist draw.
- Run successful new events such as Hidden History, Downtown Paranormal Fest, History on Tap and partner in multiple other downtown quality of life events.
- DDA manages both downtown litter cleanup and downtown meter parking through professional services contracts with the city.
- We work with appraisers and banks to encourage easier mortgage loans and working capital for downtown’s commercial buildings.
- DDA hosted a Performance Code Seminar featuring the State Fire Marshal, City Permits Officials and others to introduce downtown opportunities to potential developers/building owners/architects/brokers and others, a downtown Tax Incentive Seminar focusing on the Historic Tax Credit, DSDC Façade grant and other opportunities to potential developers/building owners/architects/brokers and others, the first-ever Realtor/Broker outreach meeting, inviting all Realtors/Brokers who do business downtown for an update on downtown projects and opportunities and other outreach events.
- We set up and host the biannual Downtown Housing Tour aimed at showing people creative residential opportunities (and encouraging more people to buy a building for residential uses.)
- We actively support through in-kind and grants the ASEANA Garden, Downtown (Shreveport) Farmers’ Market, artspace, and the downtown Mounted Patrol, whose friends group is headquartered at DDA.
- We allocate financial assistance for the Downtown Mounted Patrol each year to purchase important items not included in their budget.
- We sit on the: Red River District Advisory Committee, CoHab board of directors, Councilman Jeff Everson’s B4 committee, Shreveport Common Management Committee, the Regional Executives Coordinating Council (Committee of 100), the Spring Street Historic Museum Board and the Shreveport Water Works Museum Board and artspace board of directors.