The owners of Agora Borealis, Nicole Spikes Photography, iArchitecture, Vintage Design Group and Aidan's Place Granola cut the ribbon on their shared space in the 400 block of Lake Street in downtown Shreveport.
Some architects, some artists and some granola bakers walked into a bar. The rest of the story is no joke. It’s an inspiring story about the revitalization of downtown Shreveport.
Five businesses recently shared a grand opening celebration for their new locations in the 400 block of Lake Street in downtown Shreveport. The Lake Street Bar previously occupied some of the space. Historically, Shipp Radio once operated in the block as well.
The five businesses that have moved into the block are Agora Borealis – a cooperative art gallery; the architectural firms Vintage Design Group and iArchitecture; Nicole Spikes Photography; and Aidan’s Place Granola.
Their combined vision and passion for their work and their new location was enough to bring a large crowd to downtown Shreveport on a rainy evening. That’s just the kind of thing that downtown needs.
“This shows the incredible dynamism that a group of young creative people with good business skill can bring to our community,” Liz Swain, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority said.
Government, businesses, entertainment and nightlife have dominated the downtown scene since retailers abandoned the area for malls and the sprawl that is Youree Drive. Downtown has been a place to go for a very specific purpose, without much cause or reason to linger. That appears to be changing.
“The state of downtown today is so much different than it was even three or four years ago,” Swain said. “We are seeing the trend downtown happening in Shreveport-Bossier. We’re seeing it with development of residential. We’re seeing it with development of office space and retail.”
The key to retail success downtown is not in appealing to the masses. “What we have to do is explore those retail niches that will flourish downtown,” Swain said. “Things like the Agora Borealis that are specific in terms of gift items that are locally custom made, that have a story behind them, will do very well.”
The weakest link in the chain of revitalizing downtown Shreveport remains residential development. While there are about 500 residential units in the downtown area now, more needs to be done.
“Residential drives everything,” Swain said. “It has in every downtown revitalization. We have a dire need for market rate housing in downtown. That is what really drives retail and gives you the demographic to get that retail you want downtown and make it successful.”
By Scott Anderson