Recently, we sent all the Shreveport mayoral candidates that we could contact (we had no information for Melvin Slack) a list of questions that we believe set the stage for a vibrant, open-for-business downtown. The downtown community and all the many friends of downtown who wish to see it grow and prosper are interested in the responses and in the candidates’ long-term vision for our historic city center. We asked the candidates to return their answers to us by Oct. 7. To date, we have received responses from Ollie Tyler, Patrick Williams and Victoria Provenza. Their answers to our questions are below. We encourage you to read, discuss and forward this information to all who might be interested. Neither Downtown Development Authority (DDA) nor the Downtown Shreveport Development Corporation (DSDC) endorse mayoral candidates. We look forward to working with whomever is elected for the greater good of downtown and the city of Shreveport as a whole.
Former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut once said, “You can’t be a suburb of nothing.” He knew that his downtown, which during his first term as mayor was suffering from some of the same issues that downtown Shreveport is working to overcome, was a reflection on his leadership abilities, his city and more broadly, the region. Republican Hudnut was the longest-tenured mayor in Indianapolis history, serving sixteen years, and his time in office was largely defined by downtown Indianapolis. His entrepreneurial policies attracted economic development and he aggressively used tax incentives, infrastructure improvements, and development projects to attract business to the downtown area and in turn, all of Indianapolis saw improvement. What does downtown mean to you in the overall importance of the city and what, if any, plans do you have to create or divert additional funding for downtown needs?
In 2012, DDA commissioned a Parking Study for the city of Shreveport that showed how business expansion, additional residential units and historic building revitalization would be stymied without thoughtful parking additions & improvements. Please explain the steps you intend to take to deal with this issue & how you would pay for it.
Developing a 24-hour downtown will depend greatly on expanding downtown residential opportunities. Those cities with the most successful downtowns know this. “The way to have a really vibrant downtown is to have residents there who can support the businesses and provide that life on the street to make the area seem more lively and safer,” says Sheila Grant, editor of Downtown Idea Exchange and Downtown Promotion Reporter. What are your plans, if any, for encouraging, incentivizing, and assisting additional downtown residential?
Over the past several years, the city and parish have taken great interest in the 9-block art and culture district called Shreveport Common. Recently, there was another development study begun on Cross Bayou. First, what are your feelings on both areas and second, do you believe that both can be developed at once, or do you prefer finishing one project first before moving on to another?
A number of downtown buildings are suffering from lack of care. Roofs have caved in and they have sat vacant for years affecting the value of all around them. What are your ideas on how to get these long-term vacant buildings back into commerce?
Downtown Shreveport has the lowest crime rate of any area in the city, but the lack of nighttime foot traffic, homeless loitering and panhandling and past fights at some of the riverfront clubs has created a perception of danger. What are your ideas to counter this perception?
What is the first thing you wish to accomplish downtown and why?