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Monday, May 18, 2020

Shreveport Common

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Designated Target Community for DEQ Cleanup Funds

was named a community partner as part of a Brownfields grant received by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LADEQ). DEQ received the $800,000 grant from EPA on Friday, May 8, for the Louisiana Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Funds to support clean-up of contaminated properties.

LADEQ’s Statewide Brownfields Coordinator Rebecca Otte commented, “Shreveport Common was selected as one of our partner communities based on our history of working with City of Shreveport, and Shreveport Common’s commitment to creative placemaking and involving the community in the redevelopment process.” DEQ anticipates they will be ready to start accepting applications in spring 2021.

Mayor Adrian Perkins stated, “These funds will enable us to build on the progress that has already been made in cleaning up and redeveloping properties in the Shreveport Common area.”

Shreveport Common, located at the west edge of downtown and eastern Ledbetter Heights, is a nationally acclaimed, creative placemaking initiative which has motivated $51 million in public and private revitalization projects. The recent construction of Caddo Common Park revealed the complexities of redeveloping the area.

“Caddo Common Park is located on a triangle of concrete parcels that once held a variety of buildings and businesses dating back to the mid-1800’s,” said Shelly Ragle, director of City of Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation. “We expected to find some minor environmental issues based on initial assessments but instead found several underground tanks, slowing the project for safe removal.”

The city’s Engineering Department has been working with the Shreveport Common team since 2011. “Most urban revitalization projects deal with a variety of environmental concerns,” explained Wes Wyche, environmental services manager. “In Shreveport Common, this often includes underground tanks that were left behind when early gas stations and auto dealerships moved from downtown to the suburbs in the ’70s.”

Wendy Benscoter, executive director of Shreveport Common Inc., said that City Environmental Services and DEQ have been helpful partners. “Our role is to remove obstacles to redevelopment in the area,” she said, “and many of the properties we deal with have complications including environmental problems.”

“The city’s efforts to restore public spaces and infrastructure paired with Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s commitment to arts programming are foundational to this creative placemaking project,” said Benscoter, “and so are the efforts to save and repurpose blighted properties. Anything that removes barriers to redevelopment helps attract developers to create the live, work and marketplaces that are an important part of revitalizing the area.”

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