Months after submitting the application for an American Planning Association Great Street Award, Shreveport Zoning Administrator and APA-Louisiana State Executive Committee Officer Alan Clarke was startled and very pleased to hear Shreveport’s name called at the recent APA-LA conference.
“This was a secret ballot of Louisiana APA voting members—planners, architects, attorneys and others from all over the state,” says Clarke. “These judges, and the people who apply for APA awards, take this very seriously.” The Great Street award uses 12 criteria including urban design and architectural features, memorable character, interesting features, and whether the street balances the competing needs of the street, such as driving, walking, parking and so on.
Clarke contacted Downtown Development Authority executive director Liz Swaine about a year ago and told her of his intentions to apply. Swaine assisted in creating a program focusing on the 600- and 700- blocks of Texas Street, an area that filled with beautiful historic buildings, is pedestrian friendly and is seeing increased street-level activity.
It is also an area filled with so-called ‘adaptive reuse’ projects; buildings that were once used for one reason are being re-purposed and re-imagined for others. More than $37 million has been invested in projects in these two blocks over the past decade, with more rehab projects in the pipeline.
Clarke says the transformation of these two blocks of Texas Street took many at the conference by surprise. They remembered Texas Street as a vacant and empty section of downtown, not the way it looks now. He is thrilled to be able to show off the area in person when the APA-Louisiana comes to Shreveport for its state conference in October.
“We have really come a long way,” says Clarke. “It wasn’t so long ago that Shreveport never applied for awards at APA. Now we’re applying and winning.”