BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Everywhere you look in Howell Place, empty lots are for sale and plenty of vacant properties.
“It’s sad. Now, it’s like dead over this way,” said Timothy Sylvester.
He moved out of this community years ago but still works in the area. He said things aren’t the same anymore.
“Years ago, all this was booming back then but everything’s went down,” said Sylvester.
Parish leaders are trying to pump new life into Howell Place.
“We really need it to be the next frontier of development,” said Councilwoman Chauna Banks.
She is leading the charge to build middle-class housing and retail space. Plans have stalled over the past 30 years.
“I don’t think there is any other area in East Baton Rouge Parish where it has taken 30 years. I believe it’s because other parts of our community took precedence, namely downtown,” said Banks.
This time though she’s hopeful development will move forward.
“Now that we have America Rescue money. People are looking for ways to invest their money,” said Banks.
Sylvester wants some of that money to help existing small business owners in the area get back on their feet from the pandemic.
He said, “I hope the government will take advantage of helping the people that need to redo their business and restart a new business.”
Parish leaders and developers want to hear from the public about what they want to see in Howell Place. The public meeting to discuss ideas is Thursday, July 22 at the YMCA, 3315 72nd Avenue starting at 6 p.m.