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Monday, Jan. 25, 2021

The Lot Downtown

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Food trucks will soon park at former bus terminal

The soaring structure at 400 Crockett St. in downtown Shreveport, which once housed the SporTran Bus Terminal, has been resurrected into a new destination for fun seekers, food enthusiasts and art appreciators.

Completed in 1985, the Evans and Evans design was always evocative of the storied sailing ships of pre-20th century. For years, passengers migrated there to make their connections with city buses headed out on routes across Shreveport and Bossier City. But when SporTran unveiled its new state-ofthe-art home on the edge of downtown, the familiar, white, billowing roofline was left to stand idly sheltering the vacant passenger terminal and bus lanes.

Avid bicyclists Edgar and Deshea Guzman frequently cycled around the old terminal. “One day, we saw Liz Swaine [Downtown Development Authority executive director] out there and asked her who had the place.”

The couple had an idea for the 35,000-squarefoot area that they thought would benefit downtown and local small businesses, a food truck court and artists’ venue. “We looked at [the terminal], and buses used to park there. We were, like, this is almost a perfect [location]. What else could it be?” After Swaine put them in touch with the owner and they hammered out an agreement, the space officially became The Lot Downtown. “In the couple of years since SporTran moved, I have spoken to several people who had ideas about businesses there,” Swaine said, “but no one ever made it past the talking stage. Edgar and Deshea didn’t stop at the talking; they have been aggressive about getting answers, collaborating and creating a tiered business approach that makes a lot of sense for the facility while adding excitement and additional opportunities to downtown.”

The Lot’s maiden event was held last Nov. 20-21, and according to Guzman, was well received. “We had a great turnout. It was pretty busy both days,” Guzman said. “We had 25 vendors, like art vendors, candles, that sort of thing, plus we had nine food trucks, and we had 10 different bands to show up. We even hired Brian Blade to play out there.”

Guzman, who has another regular full-time job, said he and his artist wife didn’t initially realize how big a project they were undertaking. He said it’s working out, but there has been a fairly steep learning curve.

“Since it’s a food truck park, you know it’s not a restaurant, it’s not a bar, it’s kind of something a little different. So we’re having to go through zoning. They do have ordinances on that, but it’s just that no one has ever pursued it to the point that I’m doing. That and having to put in a fence. We’re in the historic district, so we have to go through them to allow us to put a fence.”

In the meantime, the Lot’s second weekend event is scheduled for Feb. 19-20. In addition to the food trucks, makers’ market and live music, Guzman said the Dement brothers are planning to bring a ring to the event so folks can watch boxing and wrestling matches.

One of the things that is happening right now is local artists turning tabletops into unique dining spots. “We have artists painting all of our tables,” according to Guzman. “They’re doing one of their pictures, but they’re going to be huge. Some of these tables are six-foot round, and they’re putting art on it, and we’re pouring resin on it to clear coat it, so everyone is going to be able to enjoy them.”

Artists have spoken for 16 tables, and five are already at the site, Guzman said.

Those concerned about COVID should be aware that the fire marshal inspected the site and cleared it for occupancy by 400 people. “It’s an entire lot. It’s almost a whole block, so we’re able to have that much room to be able to space it out and still be compliant with all the new guidelines of COVID.

“We’re trying to make it so that people could come and eat at three or four different food trucks and still be able to be under a tent because it’s covered under that canopy. Be able to do it in a safe place instead of being at a packed restaurant. You can be outside, and when the weather gets a little better, it will probably be more enticing for customers to come out there.”

For more information on the happenings at The Lot Downtown, you can check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

ON STANDS NOW!

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