FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2023
STRENGTHENING DOWNTOWN THROUGH A NEW PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
Residential and parking garage development
Lafayette, LA – Downtown Lafayette may soon be expanding its residential footprint through a public-private partnership between the City of Lafayette and downtown business owner and developer Johnny Blancher.
Blancher, who owns and operates Rock’n’Bowl de Lafayette, plans to develop a 208-residential unit complex, coupled with a city-owned parking garage in the heart of downtown Lafayette. The concept is a parking garage nestled in the center of the residential development. The site is inclusive of city-owned property where Lafayette City Court and the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office currently operate and several adjoining parcels owned by Blancher.
“This project is a prime example of a public-private partnership,” said Mayor-President Josh Guillory. “I appreciate Mr. Blancher’s interest in investing in downtown Lafayette. Combining the strength of the public sector with the power of the private sector allows us to increase our efficiency, provide better services, and retain pubic assets for those we serve.” The Mayor-President added he is grateful to City Council members who approved funding for a downtown parking garage and much overdue downtown infrastructure needs in the Fiscal Year 2021-2022.
Blancher, who’s lived downtown with his wife and three children for seven years, is passionate about increasing downtown’s residential life. “The support for downtown by this administration, and the understanding of what makes all of Lafayette a better community is truly apparent. For our local shops and retail storefronts to thrive downtown, residential growth is the key.”
Downtown Development Authority CEO Anita Begnaud added that the new residential development is in line with the Downtown Lafayette Action Plan and with urban planning experts who for years have expressed to city leaders the importance of public-private partnerships that expand residential and mixed-use development opportunities. “We’ve been working toward moments like this for nearly a decade. Providing high-quality city living options moves us forward in the DDA’s mission to create and sustain a vibrant downtown not only for our residents, but also to compete as a region for jobs and professional talent. After months of confidential conversations and planning, it’s exciting this new development is coming to fruition.”
Mandi Mitchell, LEDA President and CEO, also expressed her enthusiasm for the project saying “I am happy to see another catalytic investment in downtown Lafayette from Johnny Blancher. This project is a great example of a private developer investing in the district and collaborating with local government to benefit both parties and downtown residents, workers, and visitors. Additional residential development has been an ongoing goal for DDA and more parking availability is always needed—this public private partnership addresses both. Investments, such as this, from the private sector give LEDA leverage in further enhancing and improving the Quality of Life and fueling our talent attraction efforts for Lafayette Parish.”
The project, Blancher said, will create more opportunities for growth that generations of Lafayette locals will reap the benefits. “Our cooperation with Mayor Guillory and his administration will not only create parking for residents, but also will give a lifeline for hundreds of businesses and property owners in the Downtown area. Our project will be built with beauty in mind. Other parking structures are eyesores, just drab parking structures.”
Parish Council District 5 Councilman A.B. Rubin added the parking garage will complement the newly renovated, reopened parish-owned Buchanan Parking Garage. “This development is a great opportunity to increase housing and much-needed parking in the downtown area.”
According to Guillory, many other important steps have to fall in place for the future success of the public-private partnership, including relocating the Lafayette City Court and Marshal’s offices. “While we have several steps that will need to be finalized, the progress thus far is promising,” said Guillory.