Thursday, May 28, 2009
This marks the first major drug store chain to build a location near Lafayette General. Across the country - CVS, Walgreen's and Rite Aid have been snapping up prime corners near hospitals. They figure that the baby boomers are only getting older, and they'll need more medications as they age. Most doctors' offices are near hospitals - so they like to be in the same general area.
I'm assuming the office building will be torn down - I'm waiting on a few calls to see who owns the building. I'm trying something new - here's a view of 1326 W. Pinhook from Google. Comment below on what you think this store will do for traffic at the intersection, and how the Google image works.
UPDATE: The office building will be torn down. CVS says "no comment."
View Larger Map
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Office Depot has opened a new Lafayette location in the former Office Max at Johnston and Ambassador Caffery. The Office Max chain closed a large number of stores over a year ago, including the Lafayette store. I wondered if Office Depot would close the company's original Lafayette location (Johnston near Camellia), but that store still is open.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
couldn't help not capturing this scene across from Union Square in
Manhattan. The entire block is going out of business. Circuit City
has already closed and the Virgin Mega Store is holding it's closing
sale now. Both entire chains are closing due to many factors
including this rough economy.
I have noticed more empty storefronts in the city compared to my visit
last year - but it's not as bad as I expected. Manhattan still is a
major tourist draw plus a few million people all live in such a small
Those are just my development observations from NYC. This is the
first time I've ever posted from my phone, so let me know if there are
any formatting errors.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
In Lafayette, people don't like it when things change names. I still refer to Guidry's Reef as The Oyster Reef, whatever that building is across from Randol's will always be known as "the old Pizza Playhouse" and you know someone is a long-time Lafayette veteran when they call Johnston Street the Abbeville Highway.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I think this is the beginning of a new generation of cooperation between UL and the city and its residents. It sounds like the Horse Farm will become a park that won't have ball fields, but will have walking trails and about 100 acres of open spaces.
I remember doing a story on what that property would fetch on the open market a few years ago - many speculated in the $20 - $30 million range. Preliminary plans called for a shopping center at Johnston Street, with and upscale subdivision to the rear. That's the last thing Lafayette needs right now. If that plan would have gone forward, it would be fighting for development with River Ranch for the next 20 years. River Ranch would develop much more slowly, and the last large plot of open land in Lafayette would be gone forever.
I know the university is making a sacrifice for the greater good - but that's what universities exist to do. They're here to better the entire community, not just the lives of students and staff. UL is doing just that by giving Lafayette a great community resource that will only grow in value for many years to come.
We also can't forget the efforts of Joey Durel and his co-workers in City-Parish Government. He's wanted this for years - just has almost everyone else in town. LCG is accepting a big responsibility in keeping this park up, and I'm sure it will do a good job.
Today's a great day to be proud of Lafayette.
Monday, May 18, 2009
All new for this summer is a water park-like children's pool area with a spray park. Red says this area has 30 water features, and is designed for children under 10. This area is already open, and is sure to be a big hit through our 9 month South Louisiana summer season (although today feels like fall!).
ALSO - Work should begin soon to renovate the interior of Red's newest project - the Borden's Ice Cream shop in downtown Lafayette. Red and his daughter are working on the project - he says the renovations will simply bring the very old shop up to date. No exterior renovations are planned yet.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Just like Chrysler - I'd suspect some of our small-town GM dealerships in Acadiana could close. Luckily, Lafayette only has one franchise per GM brand (Service Chevrolet, Courtesy GMC / Buick / Pontiac / Cadillac). This means it's very unlikely a Lafayette dealer will close. I'd say the same is probably true for Opelousas and New Iberia dealers. Dealers in smaller cities may be on the bubble. I'll be watching for the list - multiple news sites say they're trying to compile their own versions throughout the day. If you hear anything - let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE 5/18/09 It looks like all Acadiana dealerships have survived this round of GM cuts. I haven't even read about any Louisiana dealers being tapped for closure. From my research, it looks like most of the dealerships affected are in the Northeast and Midwest.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
According to a list of Chrysler dealers set to close, Frenzel Motors in Abbeville, Shetler Corley in Crowley and Jackie Edgar Chrysler Supercenter in Franklin will shut down. The list is on the New York Times' website, and is cited as a record from bankruptcy court. Chrysler is shutting down nearly a quarter of the company's dealerships.
The dealerships on the list range from very small town stores, to one in Midtown Manhattan. So far, 16 Chrysler dealers in Louisiana are being asked to close - most are Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep dealers, some only sell one or two lines.
- Frenzel Motors, Abbeville
- Jackie Edgar, Franklin
- Shetler Corley, Crowley
- Adams Motors, Logansport
- Barbera, Napoleonville
- Debeaux, Vivian
- Bill Hood, Amite
- Furey, Bogalusa
- Leglue, Alexandria
- McMickens, Alexandria
- Madere's Garage, Hahnville
- New Roads, New Roads
- Oakdale, Oakdale
- Orleans, New Orleans
- Smith, Winnfield
- Roundtree, Shreveport
These dealers will have the opportunity to appeal Chrysler's decision - but I'd say any reversal is unlikely. Chrysler is not making cars right now - they're giving dealers time to sell current models before production with more input from new partner Fiat begins. The bankruptcy status could mean many of these family-owned businesses end up with not much other than their physical buildings.
- There may be some silver lining for Lafayette dealers. These cuts leave Lake Charles and Alexandria with NO Chrysler dealers. Jeeps, Dodge trucks and minivans are still popular. People will have to buy them somewhere.
- In places like Crowley and Abbeville, many will probably stop buying Chrysler products. That means they'll be buying cars from other local dealers who may be hurting right now.
- Even though the Acadiana dealers that are closing are in small towns - this will be another devastating blow to local ad sales. From TV and radio to local papers, these dealers have spent money getting their message out for years.
UPDATE - Even though Mark Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Lake Charles is on the list, KPLC reports the dealership will not close. Mark's owner says an Atlanta dealership he owns will close. Evidently both dealerships were listed as having the same Lake Charles address. Read the story here.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
A store selling only candy will once again be a tenant at the Mall of Acadiana. The mall applied for a $30,000 permit to retro-fit space next to The Gap for Candy Craze. Above is a picture of a typical outlet from Candy Craze's website. The Missouri-based chain sells bulk candy in malls throughout the South.
More dirt will soon turn in front of the new Target-anchored shopping center on Louisiana Avenue near I-10. A permit for a new $500,000 Taco Bell was issued today. The permit lists an address of 3103 Louisiana Ave., which looks like it'll be near the recently built Chick-fil-A.
Even though the exit now has substatial retail development, there are very few services for interstate travelers. There are currently no gas stations, but there is a sign touting a hotel site that is for sale.Target and JC Penney have been open for months. Ross Dress for Less has signs up on I-10 telling shoppers they're now open. Office Depot should also open soon - a sign permit has been filed.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturn of Lafayette closed earlier this year. It had just been bought by the Courtesy Automotive group - owners told reporters they didn't see a future in the brand. The Mann family brought Saturn to Lafayette and ran the dealership for many years before selling to Courtesy.
The Bohn family owns all three New Orleans-area Saturn dealerships. In the T-P article, Van Bohn said the Slidell site will sell Kias, and an Audi dealership will open at the Metairie site. A Saturn executive is quoted saying the Metairie store was one of the company's top-selling markets before Hurricane Katrina
This week, GM is expected to cut 2,600 of its 6,000 dealers. Chrysler is also reportedly cutting 800 dealers soon. I'll keep my eyes open to see if any Acadiana dealers will be affected. So far, my sources say they haven't heard of any local dealerships shutting down.
In late April the city filed a lawsuit seeking those back charges from Northgate Prime, L.P.; Lafayette Prime Inc. and Thomas E. Morris - named by Ottinger as former owners of the mall on the Evangeline Thruway in Lafayette. The mall was auctioned to new owners in February for $2.85 million according to The Advertiser. Ottinger told me the new owners are current with the mall's utility bills, and the unpaid bills (a few months of mostly electrical service) date to November 12, 2008.
The parties named in the suit have 30 days to respond, as of late last week, Ottinger said he hadn't heard from them yet. "They have to answer the suit and we'll see what their position is," said Ottinger. The three parties listed in the suit are based in Arlington, Texas according to the city.
Friday, May 8, 2009
As for the name, that's still a mystery - but I have made progress. In French, "chien" means dog, and "chinois" is the term for chinese - as in people or food. What would make the most sense is "le Chine" which is what the French call China. If that's what the owner is going for, he's misspelled his restaurant's name on the building permit.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Thanks for the support,
I can't imagine a furniture store using that entire space - but the Bassett store in Baton Rouge looks big so I'll see what I can find out.
No word on what will take Bassett's place. That shopping center already has vacancies with the former Circuit City and Office Max sites open.
This is just the latest shuffle on the local car scene, as many franchises have changed hands in the last year. Also complicating matters - the car companies themselves are in an unprecedented slump. In case you're confused about where to find your next car... here's a rundown of who has moved where.
NOTE - almost every car dealership moved this week. They're all trying to get you to buy new wheels at the car show at Cajun Field.
- Suzuki - now Sterling on N. University (formerly at Acadiana Dodge on the Evangeline Thruway)
- Sterling Hyundai - now on Johnston Street (at former Mazda lot, Hyundai used to be on N. University)
- Courtesy Mazda - now on Ambassador Caffery (at former Saturn lot, Mazda used to be on Johnston, before that at Lafayette Motors on Jefferson Blvd.)
- Acadiana Jeep / Chrysler - now on Evangeline Thruway (formerly at now-defunct Lafayette Motors on Jefferson Blvd.)
- Saturn - Closed. I did notice Saturn of Baton Rouge looks like it has a huge number of cars. Maybe some came from Lafayette?
- Giles Nissan - now on Duhon Rd. near Johnston (formerly further south on Johnston)
- Giles Subaru - new to Lafayette, at same Nissan / Volvo location
- Volkswagen - new dealership under construction across from Giles. Will be operated by owners of Southpoint VW in Baton Rouge.
Have you ever flown back from a long trip and craved a good cup of crawfish bisque the second your plane touched down only to realize you flew into New Orleans? Fret no longer - Don's is opening a new location along I-10 in Gonzales next to Cabela's. I noticed the new spot recently - and Baton Rouge Business Report published this photo of this Cajun outpost this week. The publication says this is Don's sixth location. I believe the Gonzales restaurant is Don's Seafood Hut - a sister of the popular Johnston Street Hut.
The local chain's Shreveport restaurant closed a few months ago. People in North Louisiana don't like good seafood??? Surprise!
A new Cracker Barrel / Shell gas station is under construction at the University / I-10 interchange. The new store replaces an abandoned Texaco that used to sit at the site right in front of the Red Roof Inn. The new $750,000 station was permitted in March. The Baton Rouge-based company already runs 17 Cracker Barrels and three Church's Chicken restaurants in the Lafayette area.
Too often I hear about people from out of town who think Lafayette doesn't have much to offer based on some of the older development along I-10. I think this is a great re-use of an abandoned commercial site at one of Lafayette's front doors.
Yesterday I noticed the Roly Poly on Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. behind Shenanigan's (nee Bennigan's) is now closed. From my personal experience, the store was never busy. The Oil Center Roly Poly on Coolidge Blvd. is still open and hoppin'. The store is owned by Marcus Mire, who bought it about a year ago. Today at lunch, the counter was full of big to-go orders, the location is popular with nearby oilfield and medical workers.
Ownership at the Lafayette restaurant is not changing. The Advocate reports Rick Pastorek owns seven restaurants across the state that will be transitioning from Bennigan's to Shenanigan's. The article also states other franchise owners are also making the switch along with building a new distribution network.
If you'd like a great in-depth look at what may have paved the way to Bennigan's downfall, check out this Newsweek article. The store in Lafayette has always seemed popular - especially during the annual St. Patrick's Day Blarney Blast.
Here's another crazy number - Lafayette regulations state the combined hospital / medical office complex have 1,396 parking spaces. Plans call for about 1,500 slots. Parts of the facility could open in 2011.
Office Depot filed for a $200,000 permit to build-out the new store (the walls and roof are already up, this will outfit the stores with shelves, counters, etc.). Office Depot already has stores on Pinhook Rd. and Johnston St. Lafayette's lone Office Max closed about a year ago when that chain closed a slew of stores.
A national drug chain is building at what will become one of Lafayette's newest busy interesections. CVS applied for, and was issued a permit to build in the 5400 block of Ambassador Caffery. If you plug that address into mapquest you won't even get a location. That's because the block doesn't exist... yet. The store looks like it will be at the intersection of Ambassador and Verot School Road. Right now, Ambassador ends at the intersection, but work is underway to extend the road more than 6 miles to Hwy. 90 near Broussard.
The $1.6 million store will be just a few blocks from another new-ish CVS in River Ranch. In the past few years, the major drug chains have been snapping up high-profile corner lots. They know that aging baby boomers will soon need even more drugs, and they're preparing for the future. However, a national retail source tells me the drug store building boom is almost over. Most of the companies are trying to weather the current economic storm.
A Walgreen's is already well under construction nearby at the corner of Johnston and Duhon Road, near the new library south of the Mall.
The pizza is served in rectangles instead of the more traditional triangle, and about 15 varieties are offered. I went for lunch today and the pizza was pretty good. It's between Papa John's and Dean-o's. My lunch companion had a walnut apple salad which she liked.
It looks like workers are building out neighboring spaces, but I'm not sure what will go in those spots.
UPDATE 4-13-09 Signs are up on Pinhook and on the hotel sporting the Crowne Plaza brand. The hotel is also booking rooms according to Crowne Plaza's national website.
It looks like the official re-branding of the Hotel Acadiana as a Crowne Plaza could be just days away. After months of construction - the Crowne Plaza logo is up on the building, but the new CP sign out on Pinhook is still draped in tarp. Managers told me that basically every aspect of the hotel was being renovated, from guest rooms to meeting rooms. Most recently, Hotel Acadiana was a Best Western. I believe the property opened as a Sheraton back in the oil boom years.
Crowne Plaza used to be known as Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza. The hotels are mostly geared towards business travelers. The CP will have new competition, a Staybridge Suites will open soon just behind the property on Kaliste Saloom. Also - a new Best Western is slated for a piece of land just behind Outback Steakhouse and the Fairfield Inn across Pinhook. The area really is Lafayette's hotel district, most likely because the Oil Center, hospitals and major oil offices are nearby.
I'm not sure if the Crowne Plaza reno will have any effect on the hotel's restaurant, which is now branded as Mustang Sally's. We'll see.
The building that has just been vacated by Bonnie Bell's Bistro on Brook Ave. (across St. Mary from Old Tyme Grocery) will soon be home to a new grill / pub. Papa Mello's is aiming to open up in April. Some folks working on the building told me they'll offer burgers, sandwiches and salads - and beer! Due to a location with nearby residential neighbors - Papa Mello's will close at midnight, Monday - Saturday.
If I owned the place, I'd work 24/7 to get something open for Mardi Gras - in just a few days, thousands of possible future customers will be spending lots of time on the nearby parade route on foot. But then again, they may be waiting on a liquor license. No doubt, the owners are hoping to cash in on the big UL lunch crowd. Before becoming Bonnie Bell's (which moved Downtown late last year), the building on Brooke Ave. used to be Gallagher's (now on University near McKinley). I'll keep you updated as to when they open.
UPDATE 5/7/09 - Still not open, but there is a sign that says "now hiring."
This is Rouses first Acadiana store. The chain was founded in Thibodaux in 1923, and until recently only had a presence in the Bayou area of Houma/Thibodaux/Morgan City. Post-Katrina, Rouses bought the Sav-a-Center chain's stores in the New Orleans area, and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Rouses prides itself on a wide selection of Louisiana products - including specialty meats and seafood.
I think Rouses has a great Wal-Mart fighting formula. Too many national grocery chains have gone out of business because they tried to compete with the major discount super-centers. The chains that will survive are going to be the ones that do something different, and do it well. The Rouses in the New Orleans area seem to be doing well - and I think the Youngsville store will thrive - despite nearby competition (Wal-Mart and Albertson's on Hwy. 90). I'm sure they'd like to build a Lafayette store (maybe River Ranch?), but I'd imagine land prices are near much higher Youngsville prices.
Next to the store is a sign for a proposed strip shopping center, but I am surprised to not see any out-parcel / pad sites in front of the store on Hwy. 92. I'm not sure if they had any land limitations fitting into Sugar Mill Pond.
*I sometimes like to refer to Youngsville as YoungsVegas for two reasons. One, the name fits the area's gold rush, build-it-and-they-will-come vibe. The other reason is of course it just sounds funny.
Tractor Supply Co.is set to open the chain's second Acadiana location in Breaux Bridge. There is a sign at the former Wal-Mart building on Rees St. near Mills Ave. that alerts to the construction. The chain's first Acadiana store is in Abbeville near the new Lowe's on Hwy. 14.
If you're not familiar with Tractor Supply, they operate stores that are smaller than a Lowe's or Home Depot, and one of their marketing folks once told me they sell everything that someone who lived on their own land and had animals would need. This includes a lot of horse gear and lawn care items. The Tennessee company operates more than 800 stores in the US.
About a year ago, Wal-Mart moved down Rees Street to a site bordering I-10. Another sign at the old Wal-Mart site from a local real estate company makes me think they're also building a shopping center on the property.
Construction should start soon on the Warehouse District Lofts, a long-proposed project on South College Dr. near W. Bayou Pkwy. Records show the building permit for the complex was issued Jan. 15th for $1,000,000. Developer Dimitri Menutis orginally planned for the entire site to house a few buildings of high-end residential lofts. The plan has changed - with office condos being built on the Oil Center side of the property, and the less expensive warehouse lofts on the Johnston Street side.
One of the commercial buildings looks like it's almost complete. The project's website says three of the residential units have been sold. The two bedroom / two bath units are sellling in the $260,000 range. They look very similar to the Red Stick Lofts complex in Baton Rouge that LSU fans may recognize from their Nicholson Drive location between campus and downtown.
The condos are being built on a lot that used to house an older house that caught on fire about a year ago, and has since been demolished. The sign at the property looks almost exactly the same as the sign that was at the property where condos have recently been built on Johnston Street, across from Ground Pat'i. I'm not sure if the developers are the same - or they're just using the same design. Over on Johnston Street - those condos were two bedrooms, two stories and they were listed for around $140,000 a piece.