Businesses brace for Ryan Street Streetscape construction

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Downtown business owners are bracing for the good and the bad that comes with progress as the City of Lake Charles is set to break ground on the Ryan Street Streetscape project.

"I think the heart of any city is it's downtown and I think over the years our downtown has kind of died," said Dan Schaad, Pujo Street Cafe owner.

In just a matter of days, downtown will experience a revival as the Ryan Street Streetscape project gets underway.

"It's going to be done in small portions to where we can see growth at the time and see the betterment happening and where it's not affecting several businesses at one time," Dave Evans, Luna Bar & Grill owner.

The project, which spans from Clarence Street to Pine Street will be done in 15 phases over the next 15 months. Phase one starts at Clarence Street. Ryan Street will remain open for the duration of the project and according to the Downtown Development Authority at no point will construction be underway on both sides of the street.

Schaad welcomes the progress: "I'm just excited it's finally here and that we are finally doing it."

But with that excitement comes apprehension for downtown business owners. Evans is optimistic that it won't affect business.

"I think it may deter some folks from coming down but at the same time I hope people are curious to see the progress so they will come down and support it anyway," said Evans. "We have our regular business lunch crowd and they will continue to support us and I know people will continue to come downtown."

To give you a better idea of what it will look like, the Streetscape project will be similar to the Promenade - hopefully providing the missing link to Downtown and the Lakefront.

"I think the hope is that it connects both to become a hub for shopping, restaurants and entertainment," said Schaad. "I really think it's going to open the flood gates for business in downtown."

Once finished the Streetscape will reduce Ryan Street to two lanes with additional parking on the sides.

"It's going to be a step by step process," said Tommy Navarra, Navarra's Jewelry & Gifts owner.

Navarra's family has been in business since the 1920s. They've seen downtown undergo a lot of change and are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

"We have a back entrance so people can come out the back entrance into the parking lot. I think it's going to be wonderful when it's finished," said Navarra.

Most importantly they all want you to know they'll be open for business as Ryan Street gets a new identity.

Click here to view a map of the Ryan Street Streetscape construction phasing plan.

Meanwhile, for updates on the project, the public is encouraged to attend the Downtown Development Authority meetings, held on the first Monday of every month.

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