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Results of study for South Bossier Redevelopment Plan revealed, - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Results of study for South Bossier Redevelopment Plan revealed, residents skeptical

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(Photo source: City of Bossier) (Photo source: City of Bossier)
Residents gather at CenturyLink Center for the South Bossier Redevelopment Plan public meeting. (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News) Residents gather at CenturyLink Center for the South Bossier Redevelopment Plan public meeting. (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News)
The Redevelopment Plan involves transforming a 4-miles stretch of Barksdale Blvd. into small-town main street. (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News) The Redevelopment Plan involves transforming a 4-miles stretch of Barksdale Blvd. into small-town main street. (Photo source: Erin Buchanan/KTBS 3 News)
BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTBS) -

South Bossier City residents got the first look at what could be the next phase of development for their community, including a glimpse at an entirely different Barksdale Boulevard corridor than what they've known for many years.

"It has to be something that's long-range for the children and the young people that are moving," says South Bossier resident Jim Vanderberry.

It was a packed house at the CenturyLink Center Monday evening, as residents gathered to view the results of a $50,000 study by Houston consulting firm SWA, all compiled in a PowerPoint presentation.

The focus of the meeting was the South Bossier/Barksdale Boulevard Redevelopment Plan, which is just one component of the settlement from a 2012 lawsuit between the U.L. Coleman Company and the City of Bossier.

That lawsuit was the result of the city denying curb cut access to U.L. Coleman for a proposed development on Arthur Ray Teague Parkway.

RELATED STORY: Changes in store for South Bossier as city works to meet settlement agreement

The bulk of the presentation was comprised of dazzling photos depicting the firm's vision for the 4 mile stretch of Barksdale Blvd. included in the study, all focused on transforming the busy state highway into a 'main street', complete with mixed use development and pedestrian pathways.

"It's a place that's about social interaction, and a place where people can meet and gather, dine and have a cup of coffee," explains Todd Meyer, with SWA.

One option would be to slow down traffic to around 25 mph through that stretch, entice commercial investment to be built on both sides of the road, giving the area a unique, small town feel.

Many residents expressed concern over the declining state of their neighborhoods, saying that the number of renters had increased dramatically over the last several years. 

However, representatives from SWA say their study revealed that homeownership in South Bossier had decreased more slowly than in the rest of the parish from 2000-2010.

Additionally, their study shows that the level of income growth for South Bossier is on par with the rest of the city, though that didn't stop residents from speaking out about more immediate concerns they'd like to see addressed in their communities.

The most prominent concern seemed to be enforcement of property standards, to which city representatives urged residents to contact the Property Standards Dept. with those complaints.

SWA did conclude that Barksdale Boulevard, much of which is older and has been somewhat neglected, isn't visually appealing enough to attract investors, a necessity for the plan to become a reality.

"This shouldn't be our plan," says Meyer. "This should be the community's plan. and if the community is on board, that gives us the momentum to make plans happen over time."

Another large focus of the presentation was the emphasis on encouraging development along the Red River, and rearranging the current placement of the levee in some areas to take advantage of open spaces. 

These ideas included riverfront dining, a promenade, and a variety of walking trails and parks along underdeveloped areas of the riverfront.

During the question-and-answer session, some citizens expressed worries that so much commercial development would turn their community into a duplicate of Airline Drive, notorious for its traffic congestion.

"Yes, I'd like to see the stores look better and for us to have nicer restaurants, but I don't want to run the mom and pops out either," says Leah Ferguson, a 42 year resident of Shady Grove.

But all of the options discussed are simply ideas, and overall, SWA says the idea is encourage investment and to re-brand South Bossier with its own style and flair, an area that residents can be proud to call home.

The plan encompasses eight neighborhoods and is bounded by Barksdale Air Force Base and the Jimmie Davis Bridge.

Another public meeting will be scheduled for sometime in the summer, after the city has a chance to scour the study's results and come back to the residents with a more firm idea of what they can expect for the Redevelopment Plan.

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