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Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024

DOWNTOWN AIRBNB SUCCESS STORY

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A room with a smashing view of downtown and the Mega Millenium Mural.

Snazzy apartment very desirable to guests

“YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING TO THE LAST THING THAT ANYONE WOULD POSSIBLY NEED,”

– JAMES LEBLANC

James LeBlanc is the creative type.

Not only does he have a thriving photography business in downtown Shreveport in a restored building, but he also has turned the second floor of that building into his own living space and an Airbnb that’s hardly been empty since he and his husband opened it.

“Downtown is not one of those areas right now that’s incredibly saturated with Airbnb opportunities,” noted LeBlanc. “We wanted to offer something somewhat unique for people coming to stay downtown. You’ve got a lot of walkable space that people could enjoy. We’re just a couple of blocks from the festivals, so we thought it would be a great opportunity.”

The upper floor has three residential units, two of which are rentable. After architect Jason Cram renovated the building, LeBlanc used his creativity to make something special.

“We’ve never had [a BnB] before,” LeBlanc recounted, “so it was kind of a challenge trying to figure out what was going to work. We tried to pull out the appeal of the design of the building with a hat tip to the Art Deco era. We put a lot of color in [the residential] space. Since it’s a small space, we chose to do brighter colors.”


The space is calm, cool and beautifully appointed.


The cook’s kitchen in the studio loft rental.

LeBlanc said there have only been a few nights the space has not been rented since it opened. Some folks spend as little time as overnight, while others stay longer.

“We’ve had three long-term people; when I say long-term, I mean they’re in there more than the Airbnb usual. Three nights to a week is the usual.”

LeBlanc said Airbnbs can be a practical alternative for residential customers in transition. They have someone moving from Dallas who is going to be staying with LeBlanc for a while. “She won’t be out before May 1, so she’s using the time to shop for a house. Her kids live here, so she’s using the time to house shop,” LeBlanc said.

What, though, possessed LeBlanc to throw open the doors to this new venture? “I’ve always been a hospitable person,” he explained. “I love to have people over. I love to cook for them.

“WE TRIED TO PULL OUT THE APPEAL OF THE DESIGN OF THE BUILDING WITH A HAT TIP TO THE ART DECO ERA”.

– JAMES LEBLANC

I think the Airbnb was kind of a neat way for me to funnel that energy through — helping people feel at home when they come to visit Shreveport. I think people like to feel more like they’re in a home versus a hotel room sometimes.”


The dichotomy of the new and the old in the rental.

People in search of shelter can find LeBlanc’s space through www.airbnb.com. When they reach the location in the 400 block of Crockett Street, they’ll find amenities like a fully equipped kitchen, a washer and dryer, a 55-inch TV and Wi-Fi. They also have a private security entry and outdoor patio access.

“You have to think about everything to the last thing that anyone would possibly need,” LeBlanc said. “From silverware to crock pots, to anything for someone to pretty much be at home for a short or extended period of time. You’d be amazed what you need.”

LeBlanc said they’ve been downtown five years now and love the atmosphere. “My business has been down here. Really, I don’t ever feel unsafe down here. I don’t feel personally threatened walking around, even at night.”

He has some advice for anyone looking downtown for shelter and entertainment. “If they want to come and spend time downtown and have walkable access to some of the growth that downtown has had over the course of the past few years, enjoy their time in a comfortable space and get away, come see us.”


James & Justin’s downtown apartment.


The kitchen space in James & Justin’s apartment.

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