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Monday, May 8, 2017

DOWNTOWN’S ‘LOFTY’ RETURN

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Heart of Shreveport experiencing rebirth

In April, downtown Shreveport’s highest-profile rehab in recent memory – the Lofts at 624 – began welcoming apartment dwellers. The moves come none too soon for people who see the development as an important step forward in the revitalization of Shreveport’s historic downtown. Residential opportunities have, and continue to be, key to a resurgence of a downtown “community.”

By June 1, Lofts Leasing Manager Jeff Everson expects all available third and fourth-floor spaces to be leased up by July 1 when the fifth floor is ready, all spaces should be grabbed up, and the penthouses of the seventh floor will soon follow. During the months leading up to the opening, Everson and I talked a lot about the excitement the project has created and the expectation that more than Millennials would be renting spaces there. All that has been true, but the demographic mix has been a surprise, even to those of us who knew about the pent-up demand for market-rate apartment options.

“We’re seeing interest from Millennials, GenX’ers and Baby Boomers,” says Everson. “For some, it’s a first apartment; others are downsizing to be close to the activities, culture and amenities of downtown. We have two or three who have houses in the suburbs but want to have an apartment downtown so they can stay downtown during the week or during festivals.”

Though the ages of those excited about living in the Lofts run the gamut, their reasons for the excitement do not. All love the architectural detail of the grand old department store that was once called the “Temple of Commerce”: the floorto-ceiling windows, the lavish moldings, the incredibly high ceilings, as well as the history that surrounds everyone in the space.

“The history creates a sense of place,” says Everson, “Our new tenants know that the people who came before valued this building. They love the stories; the fact that it was the first store with a credit card, the first store with an escalator that went above the second floor, the tales of who worked here. There is a legacy, a feeling that everyone is part of something bigger.”

That feeling is true. They are part of the re-emergence of a once-thriving city center, a place that would not die and is now finding itself reborn through art and culture, history and architecture.

Who is this first wave of “lofty” residents?

They are people transferred to the area from other places that also value their downtowns, medical and military professionals who have lived in urban settings before, those for whom a yard to maintain and a commute are not appealing. They are folks who have moved into Shreveport-Bossier from nearby towns and villages who want the experience of downtown living, and locals who have been biding their time, waiting for such an option.

“They are people searching for a work-life balance,” says Everson. “They want to come home, change clothes and walk across the street to Robinson Film Center. The storage units in the building also give the tenants the chance to have items but live minimally if they choose.” Many are choosing the minimal style, while others have opted to purchase all new furnishings to go with their new style of living.

It’s a great, big melting pot, just what we hoped would happen.

Other developers and property owners have been taking notice. The Standard at 509 Market is pushing to be open by late 2017, complete with deli/market and rooftop dog park. Open-concept apartments in the 800 block of Texas Avenue are close to finish, the mid-century modern Southern Bell across Crockett Street from the Strand Theatre is looking at a late summer opening, and one-off residences are springing up in buildings all over downtown. Prefer to own? You can do that, too, at Ridgeway Square at 719 Marshall. Here, you can watch the transformation take place. Pay a deposit now and pick your own finishes and colors to make the space truly yours.

The new options join the ranks of those who came before them – converted hardware stores and dry goods, wholesale jewelry stores and a Salvation Army building. If you haven’t been downtown lately, it’s most definitely time to return!

MORE INFORMATION:

For more information on spaces at the Lofts @ 624, go to www.624lofts.com

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