Thursday, May 28, 2009

CVS Headed for Pinhook / Bendel Corner

A big shake-up is in the works for one of Lafayette's most akward intersections. CVS has received a permit to build a new drug store at the corner of Pinhook and Bendel Roads, just outside of the Oil Center. The address permitted is 1326 W. Pinhook, where a large white office building currently sits (next to Cafe Vermilionville)

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

Another Restaurant Tries its Luck on Downtown Corner

Come Monday, Downtown Lafayette's newest restaurant could be open for business. Co-owner Penny Henry tells me Jefferson Orleans Seafood and Steaks could open as early as next week at the corner of Jefferson and Johnston. Fellow co-owner Aaron Ford will be the chef, and Henry tells me the duo plan to offer Kobe beef steaks - a delicacy that can be hard to find.

Jefferson Orleans follows Victor's, which closed within the year. Many other restaurants have tried to make this location work, and they have all failed. Henry says the restaurant plans to serve alcohol, but food will be the main focus.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Office Depot Takes Over for Office Max

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.

Also - another new Office Depot should open soon on Louisiana Ave. at I-10.  That will bring the chain's Lafayette store count to four.  

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Empty Spaces in the City

I'm updating this week from New York where the weather is gorgeous. I
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

What's in a Name? In Lafayette, a lot

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.

That's why it puzzles me to no end as to why HCA is re-naming Southwest Medical Center AGAIN!  The Advertiser reports the hospital at Congress and Ambassador will now be known as The Regional Medical Center of Acadiana.  Huh?  To the best of my knowledge this is the history of the hospital's name since it's formation - Hamilton Hospital, The Medical Center of Southwest Louisiana, Southwest Medical Center.  This will make four names in just as many decades.

Tennessee-based Hospital Corporation of America owns the hospital along with Women's & Children's and Dauterive Hospital in New Iberia.  Evidently, together, these facilities will be known as Regional Health System of Acadiana.  I'm sure all of these facilities provide great medical care, but their new names will no doubt cause confusion.

In my eyes, HCA would do better with one brand name for all three hospitals:  Brand X Medical Center (Southwest), Brand X Women's and Children's, Brand X New Iberia.  The Ochsner Health System in New Orleans has done a great branding its facilities this way.  Also - could HCA have picked a more generic name?  What will people call the hospital - Regional?  

I do know one thing about this name change for Southwest - it guarantees that locals will continue to refer to it as Hamilton Hospital.

CC's Ambassador Location Closes Friday

Lafayette's first modern chain coffee shop will close for good Friday.  Community Coffee's CC's Coffee House is not renewing the lease on the space it's occupied on Ambassador Caffery (across from Charlie G's, near Broadmoor Blvd.).  Company representatives tell me they're scouting the area for a new location, but nothing is final yet.  Most of the locations the company has recently built in Lafayette and Baton Rouge have included drive thru service.  The Ambassador location was not set up for that configuration.  

CC's has been extremely successful here, with five locations in Lafayette - not including multiple kiosks around the city.  I believe the local chain's market share was a factor when Starbucks decided to close a number of newly-built stores in Lafayette last year.

Before CC's opened in the late '90s, I know a few local coffee shops were in business in Lafayette (Cafe Cottage, Cornwell's, what was the name of the place where Papa John's is now across from UL?).  

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Horse Farm for the People

The word is out - UL's famed Horse Farm property along Johnston Street will become a public park. The Independent has some of the details, but I want to focus on what this means for Lafayette and UL.

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.

Kirkland's Leaves Mall, Moves Across Johnston

Home accessory store Kirkland's is leaving the Mall of Acadiana, but the retailer isn't leaving Lafayette. The store is moving across Johnston Street into a building next to Applebee's (I believe this was formerly a Fashion Warehouse or something similar? If you know leave a comment below). Workers cleaning the windows and assembling the shelves at the new location told me it should be open in about a week.
Mall of Acadiana Marketing Director Brian Lutz tells me that Kirkland's wanted more space, but there were no larger slots open. Lutz says the mall has already leased the Kirkland's space, but the deal has not been finalized so he can't release the name of the new tenant.
Lutz tells me there are many indicators coming out of the mall that show shoppers in Acadiana continue to hit the stores - despite national trends. You can read more about that in my column that will debut in tomorrow's issue of The Independent.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Circle K on Pont des Mouton

A reader named Gwen asked me to investigate what is under construction at the intersection of Pont des Mouton and North University between I-10 and Carencro. City officials tell me a Circle K gas station and convenience store is under construction at that site. About a year ago, Pont des Mouton Rd. was widened to four lanes from North University to I-49. This will be the first development at that intersection, the other three corners are just fields - for now. A well-stocked and clean gas station can be a life saver.

Red's Expands Lobby, Opens New Kids' Pool Area

If you have visited Red's anytime in the past few weeks, you've noticed all of the construction going on in the front of the club. Red himself tells me he's expanding the front desk area which will give members and employees more room with a soaring two-storey addition when they first enter the facility. Work on this project will slow during the summer, as the annual wave of middle and high schoolers arrive to spend their time off indoors.

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

New Asian Restaurant in Former Ninfa's

The shopping center that used to house Ninfa's on Johnston St. (headed towards Ambassador from Camellia) is undergoing a major facelift. It looks like Ninfa's has closed for good - and will be replaced with a new Japanese hibachi restaurant named Hunami. I spoke to the man who says he will run the restaurant. There was quite a language barrier, but he did tell me he's run Japanese restaurants in other cities - and came to Lafayette after hearing the good word from friends. He hopes to have the restaurant in the next few months.

No word on what will take the other spaces in the shopping center. It looks like the other tenants have moved out. The shopping center's owner took out a $100,000 permit to reconstruct the building's facade.

GM Closures Out Today, List Still Secret

Today - GM will tell about 1,000 dealers they'll no longer be needed. This comes just a day after Chrysler cut more than 700 dealers (Frenzel in Abbeville, Jackie Edgar in Franklin and Shetler-Corley in Crowley). So far, the GM list is remaining secret. The company claims it's telling dealers the tough news, and getting the word out is up to the dealers.

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

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

On The Radieaux

I'll be on KPEL 105.1 tonight sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 pm discussing On The and development in Acadiana with my good old friend Scott Brazda. Tune In!

Abbeville, Franklin, Crowley Chrysler Dealers to Close

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

Sweet New Mall Tenant

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.
I know there was a candy store in the mall near the food court for years, but according to the mall's store directory - it must have closed.

Fourthmeal on Louisiana Ave.

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

PIZZA! PIZZA!: Little Caesars coming to Pinhook

Soon, South Lafayette residents will once again be able to order Little Caesars pizza without trekking all the way out to the lone Lafayette location on Moss Street at Pont des Mouton. A permit has been filed to build-out a Little Caesars in the new shopping center at 1812 Pinhook. That's right across the street from the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly Hotel Acadiana) and Office Depot. Right now, the only other retailer open in the brand-new center is New Orleans Daiquiris.

Little Caesars left this side of town years ago when they closed the store across from Cajun Field (next to Graham Central Station). I remember getting their gigantic football-field sized pizzas for birthday parties at the pool during many summers of my youth. You can check out a nice vintage commercial for the BIG CHEESE pizza by clicking here.

A USA Today story on the chain's planned renaissance says executives hope to expand in Denver, Atlanta, and the Philadelphia to New York corridor soon. Currently, the chain touts already cooked small pizzas just waiting for customers. That way you don't have to call ahead.

First Lafayette, Now New Orleans Without Saturn Dealer

The Times-Picayune reports all three Saturn dealerships in the New Orleans metro area (Slidell, Metairie and Harvey) will shut down Wednesday. GM has announced it will stop building Saturns at the end of 2009. Saturn's brand (still loved by many) and its dealer network are seen as valuable assets, and GM is open to selling the line. Penske (car parts chain) and an Oklahoma firm are both considering buying Saturn.

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.

City Suing Former Northgate Mall Owner

After a scorching Mother's Day weekend, we're all reminded of how our LUS bills will soon make that annual summer jump. Well, imagine just not paying your $378,642.35 utility bill. That's what City-Parish Attorney Pat Ottinger says the former owners of Northgate Mall did.

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


I just succumbed to a fad I hoped to stay away from. I signed up for twitter. You can follow at and I'll "tweet" every time a new post is added.

UPDATE: Le Chein... (ou le Chine?)

I've found out some more information about the new restaurant that's taking over what used to be Sonny's BBQ on Johnston next to Best Buy. Le Chein will be a "Chinese bistro" run by Brandon Lee - who also owns Tokyo Live on Pinhook. I haven't been able to get in touch with Lee, but bistro makes me think this will be an upscale Chinese restaurant. That's a market segment that's just not being served right now in Lafayette. Most of the Chinese restaurants in town only offer buffet-style service or specialize in take-out. I'd expect a major renovation on the building. Workers have spent the past few weeks removing the brick-red siding from the outside.

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

New Look, Same Great Content

On The Greaux has switched hosting sites, and we're sporting a new look. All of the previous posts have been transferred, but I wasn't able to move the comments. Some of you may have to update bookmarks or RSS feeds. You can still access the site best by going to

Thanks for the support,

Bassett Furniture Moves to Former Theater

I've gotten multiple tips about Bassett Furniture moving into the old Carmike movie theater across from the Mall of Acadiana (I still have hard time calling it that). I am waiting on mall management and Bassett officials to get back with me to confirm - but tipsters say this is a done deal. Bassett currently shares the old Target building on Johnston with Hobby Lobby.
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.

Cajun Car Shuffle Continues - Suzuki to Sterling

POSTED 5/6/09

Driving on North University this afternoon, I noticed Sterling has taken over the local Suzuki franchise. A new Suzuki banner is hangs next to the Kia sign at the dealership's lot on University at Willow. Dealership employees tell me Sterling took control of Suzuki about two months ago from Acadiana Dodge. Suzuki is taking space vacated by Sterling's Hyundai dealership - which moved to Johnston Street.

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.

Don's on the Run

POSTED 5/5/09

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!

New Gas Station at University / I-10

POSTED 5/5/09

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.

New Restaurant in Former BBQ Building

POSTED 5/1/09

Building records show a new restaurant is headed to the former Sonny's Bar-BQ building next to Best Buy on Johnston Street. Sonny's has been closed for years, and the building has remained empty. Brandon Lee has applied for a $300,000 permit to re-work the space for a new restaurant called Le Chein. I know "chien" means dog in French, but I'm not sure about "chein" - but I'll keep on it.

Roly Poly Shuts Down on Ambassador

POSTED 5/1/09

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.

Bennigan's now Shenanigan's

POSTED 4/21/09

Bennigan's on Ambassador Caffery is now Shenanigan's. An employee told me the name switch happened last Tuesday - and that most of the menu is the same familiar Irish fare. However, some former Bennigan's items are off the menu. This move is not a huge surprise. Last summer, Bennigan's parent company filed for bankruptcy and 150 corporate-owned stores closed. According to Newsweek, about the same number of stores stayed open - they were franchise stores. Most analysts agree this is one of the worst times ever for casual dining chain restaurants after boom times earlier this decade and throughout the '90s.

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.

Papa Murphy's Headed to Lafayette

POSTED 4/16/09

Take-and-bake pizza chain Papa Murphy's will open a store in Lafayette in 2010 according The Advocate. Carell Grass runs locations that are already open in Baton Rouge. The paper says Grass' company hopes to open stores in Lafayette along with St. Tammany and Jefferson Parishes. The article says a location for the Lafayette store hasn't been decided. Take a peek at Papa Murphy's menu here.

Papa Murphy's was created by merging two regional pizza chains in the Northwest in 1995. Today the company has over 1,100 stores in 32 states and Canada. Ten locations are already open in the Baton Rouge area.

Bella Figura Crosses the Street

POSTED 4/15/09

After months of speculation, it looks like Bella Figura really is moving out of River Ranch\'s City Club complex. The Italian restaurant has applied for a $70k + permit to renovate 4,200 square feet of space at 2207 Kaliste Saloom Rd., that\'s in the new shopping center at Kaliste Saloom and Martial. I\'m assuming Bella Figura is taking over the space where Hub City Diner once housed its second location - which closed a few months ago.

There have been rumors for a while that Bella Figura was not doing well in City Club. Crowds thinned when the restaurant moved from its first location further down Kaliste Saloom near St. Pius a few years ago. Marcello\'s now operates an Italian restaurant / wine market at that site. No word on what will replace BF or when it will open. Long-time Lafayette restaurateur Jack Ainsworth owns Bella Figura.

$600K Building Permit

POSTED 4/13/09

Can you imagine forking over more than half a million dollars just to get a building permit? That's how much it is costing Our Lady of Lourdes to just get the o-k to build a new hospital on Ambassador Caffery. The hospital was issued a $120 million building permit April 2nd. Lemoine is listed as the contractor. The new campus will be located on Ambassador between Verot School Rd., and Kaliste Saloom Rd. on Lafayette's south side.

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.

Progress for Office Depot on Louisiana Ave.

POSTED 4/13/09

Lafayette's third Office Depot location is moving forward at the new Louisiana Avenue / I-10 shopping center. The Target-anchored center is almost full, with JCPenney, PETCO and other smaller stores now open.

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.

My Circle K has Re-opened!

POSTED 4/11/09

After a few weeks of construction, the Cirlce K at the corner of St. Landry and University is back open for business. The very busy store has been remodeled and features all new fixtures, a modern look and a walk-in beer cooler. This store sells quite a bit of alcohol on weekends, and I'm sure the owners are glad to be open for Festival International. Store workers say they opened early - around noon on Good Friday. Most of the other Circle K stores around Lafayette have been recently renovated - and the rest are in line for work.

Martin & Castille South

POSTED 4/11/09

One of Lafayette's oldest funeral homes is expanding on the city's south side. Records show Martin & Castille is planning a $2.6 million funeral home facility on Steen Road - that's just of E. Farrel, down the road from STM. Martin & Castille operates funeral homes on St. Landry Street near downtown, and in Scott. The company's website says the new Farrel location will open in the fall of 2009. A full-service chapel that seats 250 is included in the plans.

New CVS on Ambassador at Verot

POSTED 4/11/09

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.

Pizzeria Venti Opens

POSTED 2/11/09

Finally, the first tenant in the new shopping center at Pinhook and Kaliste Saloon has opened. Pizzeria Venti is a pizza-by-the-slice chain that is a welcome non fast food / plate lunch spot in the neighborhood.

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.

Hotel Acadiana Becomes Crowne Plaza

POSTED 2/11/09

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.

Grill / Pub Coming to Former Bonnie Bell's

POSTED 2/11/09

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."

Rouses Opens in YoungsVegas*

POSTED 1/29/09

This morning (Thursday) at 8am Rouses opened the Louisiana-based grocery chain's newest store in Youngsville. The store is the first major retail component of the Sugar Mill Pond development, and is located at the corner of Hwy. 92 and the new Youngsville Pkwy. These pictures are from Wednesday, when the parking lot was likely full of vendors and employees getting ready for the opening.

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. Expands in Acadiana

POSTED 1/28/09

Tractor Supply 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.

Warehouse District Lofts Move Forward

POSTED 1/28/09

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.

New Condos Near UL

POSTED 1/28/09

From the ashes of a house fire, more student-focused housing is heading to near the UL campus in Lafayette. Building records show Roosevelt Street Condominiums has been permitted to build a $400,000 complex at the corner of Roosevelt and Gen. Mouton - that's just about two blocks from the edge of the UL campus.

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.