Revitalizing the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District

Revitalizing the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There's an effort to revitalize the Nellie Lutcher Cultural District, an area that covers Railroad Avenue down Enterprise Boulevard.

The communities around the main drag are home to a low-income, older crowd, but with a new initiative underway, it has the potential to get back to its roots and become a hot spot for art and music.

R&B singer Nellie Lutcher's hometown was inspiration for her song "Lake Charles." Lutcher grew up along Enterprise Boulevard, now part of a cultural district named after her. It's now an area full of vacant lots and empty houses.

KPLC toured the once thriving community with Eric Cormier with the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

"Unless a younger generation comes in and does something with it, it's going to continue to dwindle," said Cormier

The average residents are in their 50s, with an income of $20,000, but Cormier's vision is to see younger entrepreneurs thrive.

"So, you have these buildings," Cormier said, pointing to a vacant business on Broad Street, "Some people say 'Well this is prime for a restaurant.' Who knows?"

Cormier believes the area is full of endless possibilities, and shares a vision with other city leaders

"One thing that would help our region possibly, is to celebrate the things that really make us who we are," said Cormier, "One of them is Zydeco; another is Swamp Pop. Another is Cajun French music. All of these things is what Nellie's district could be about."

A committee is being formed to come up with ideas of how to make it happen, and Cormier has a few ideas of his own.

"Have a festival right here celebrating Nellie," Cormier said.

Now Nellie is serving as inspiration for her own city.

The committee is being formed at the end of this year, and it will have six months to develop a plan for the cultural district.

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