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Monday, Sept. 9, 2019

Behind The Facades

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I Am Downtown (And You Can Be, Too)

I have had many humorous conversations with Metropolitan Planning Commission director Alan Clarke about HGTV, the TV channel that purports to help you re-do an entire house in 60 minutes. It’s a miracle, I tell you, a miracle … and not at all scripted in advance.

Two handsome twin brothers from Canada and a Texas couple with lots of children and a bakery and an old silo and a furniture line take Plain Jane homesteads and turn them into trendy, remarkable spaces using designer magic and lots of greige. (It’s a thing, Google it). Alan’s wife loves these TV transformations and being a good husband, Alan has learned to tolerate these transformations. It’s all about getting a glimpse behind the façade, and I have yet to find anyone who isn’t curious. This inquisitiveness is one of the reasons we have kicked off a new downtown campaign with the opportunity to do a little fun – and completely legal – snooping.

How many times have you driven past something and wondered what was inside? No need to wonder anymore, we’re going to be taking you there. We spend much of our day at work, and that’s where we’re beginning, in office spaces in our high-rise towers. When you look at Regions, MidSouth, Louisiana or America Tower or the Beck Building or 400 Texas, One Texas Centre or any of the others, do you think of floor-to-ceiling skyline views? Of small, trendy apartments that look out over the streetscapes? Of large and impressive art collections? Of brick walls and high ceilings? If not, you’re in for a treat because we have all of those and more. You’ll soon see that our downtown office spaces are not lacking in imagination and neither are the people who inhabit them.

Downtown Shreveport is the hub of government, the courts, finance, festivals, history, art and culture. It is where businesses need to be, and our goal with “I Am Downtown” is to show them why and how to get here. Along the way, we’ll be sharing video stories from people like Anna Gleason, who works and plays downtown and is on the boards of Robinson Film Center and Shreveport Common, about what downtown means to her. It becomes clear pretty quickly that “I Am Downtown” is as much about where you are physically as it is your outlook on life and how you choose to live it. It’s important to live it well, so soon we’ll be launching a “How To Downtown User’s Guide” of 50 things we feel make life a little more enjoyable.

Ever sipped a beverage on the sidewalk café at downtown’s Rhino Coffee while peoplewatching or spent a lazy Saturday morning eating homemade buckwheat and blueberry pancakes and comparing juicy, ripe tomatoes at the Shreveport Farmers’ Market? If you have, you’ll just need to complete a few more to earn a unique pin that will show the world your downtown creds. Jump on social media and look for hashtag #DowntownShreveport to see nearly 200 photographs of amazing views from downtown, and as you scroll through, “like” the ones that speak to you to win the photographer a night out on the (down) town! Infographics filled with downtown facts and interesting information, social media filters to show off your selfie, and more office and other photographic tours will follow.

It’s true, I admit. We love our city center and know that once you hear its story, see its magic and experience its history, architecture, art and business opportunities, you’ll love it, as well. I Am Downtown, and I hope to see you downtown, too. More information can be found at downtownshreveport.com.

Liz Swaine is the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. She can be reached at liz@downtownshreveport.com.

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